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Flashcards in Consequentialism Deck (28)
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what is deontology?

it claims that the rightness or wrongness of an act is not determined solely by reference to consequences but is intrinsically right or wrong


what is consequentialism?

the view that whether an act is right or wrong depends solely on the consequences


what is the maximising principle?

the idea that those acts which are morally right are those which have the best possible consequences


what is the dilemma of the maximising principle?

must we always aim for the very best actions or is it enough to do enough good to satisfy consequentialism


according to classes utilitarianism, those acts which have the best consequences are those....

which have the best consequences and which maximise pleasure and minimise pain


what does objective consequentialism focus on?

the actual or objectively probable consequences of an action


what does subjective consequentialism focus on?

the foreseen or intended consequences of an action


explain the issue of what constitutes the best consequences?

can we simply aggregate the happiness of individuals to work out the best state of affairs? what constitutes pain and pleasure and doesn't this vary among different people?


there is an issue of equal consideration, who is the everyone the has the right to happiness? what did Bentham think?

sentient beings i.e. anyone who can suffer


how would Kant criticise consequentialism?

he argues it uses people as a means to an end. when they should be treated as an end in themselves "better the whole people perish than injustice be done."


why might the organ transplant example show that consequentialism doesn't necessarily lead to the highest utility in all situations?

it could lead to a mistrustful society, people too scared to go to doctors


consequentialism could lead to infringements of justice - deontologists would say it is wrong even if...

it sometimes leads to the right consequences since they are achieved wrongly, it is wrong because it doesn't take people's rights seriously


who says "utilitarianism does not take seriously the distinction between persons."



what is threshold deontology?

where deontological principles generally govern situations but some situations may arise where consequences become so dire that some form of consequentialism takes over.


how is consequentialism good in the sense that it demystifies morality?

it shows that actions are wrong because they harm human flourishing, it makes this very clear.


why does Mill believe consequentialism works?

because we need something to base the test of right or wrong on. otherwise the moral faculty appealed to by ethical intuitionists may just spew out conservative and prejudice judgements


act consequentialism decision procedure demands...

..that on each occasion an agent should attempt to calculate the action that will maximise the good


rule consequentialism decision procedure demands..

..that an agent should decide what to do by applying rules which produce the best consequences


when is an act right according to rule utilitarianism?

if it is in accordance with a system of rules with the best consequences


explain the problem of unfair distribution

is a society preferable because it has more utility even if it is unequal? or is a society better with less but more fairly distributed utility?


explain williams argument that consequentialism undermines integrity

gives an example of jim and pedro, taking a job you don't want and killing one indian to save 19 others. he argues what matters is the fact that you are doing it so feel specially responsible. he believes that consequentialism gets it wrong because if it were right you would just do it.


how could williams argument against consequentialism possibly be wrong?

it relies on personal emotions. just because we find something emotionally hard doesn't mean we shouldn't do it - this is selfish and to be swayed by it is just a way of keeping our moral hands clean.


explain how consequentialism may expect too much

excessive demands - it demands we take an impartial view that no one matters more than anyone else. so we should not spend time and resources out ourselves and friends and family because we should be using this time to save lives - we should become impersonal calculators of utility doing the best possible good. how can we justify special attention shown to ourselves and our friends and family?


what do deontologists have to say about excessive demands?

we need to value prima facie relationships since morally that is how we work so consequentialism isn't compatible with human nature and it would produce right results for the wrong reasons. if right results at all - arguably personal attachments and values are valuable so neglecting them would not maximise the good since people would be miserable.
consequentialism needs to respect valuable relationships so that it is more in keeping with human nature, we can't all be impersonal calculators of the good.


who gives the example of a daughter and stranger in a fire and only being able to save one and what does he say about it?

williams, he says if you have to think about it this is one thought too many, you should save your daughter because of the relationship


according to Williams, why might consequentialism be wrong even if it takes prima facie relationships into account?

because you should do things because you care, not because you are calculating utility


what is a possible amendment of consequentialism?

satisfying consequentialism - to say that actions are morally permissible if its consequences are good enough


what is the principle of indifference?

the good and the bad in unforeseen consequences cancel each other out, leaving the foreseen consequences to make the difference, there is going to be good and bad, we don't know what will happen so have to go on what we do know according to rules. e.g. killing is wrong and sticking to this should produce greater utility overall if everyone complies