consequentialism
con·se·quen·tial·ism (kŏn'sĭ-kwĕnʹshə-lĭz'əm) n.
The view that the value of an action derives solely from the value of its consequences.
  con'se·quenʹtial·ist n.

* * *

In ethics, the doctrine that actions should be judged right or wrong on the basis of their consequences.

The simplest form of consequentialism is classical (or hedonistic) utilitarianism, which asserts that an action is right or wrong according to whether it maximizes the net balance of pleasure over pain in the universe. The consequentialism of G.E. Moore, known as "ideal utilitarianism," recognizes beauty and friendship, as well as pleasure, as intrinsic goods that one's actions should aim to maximize. According to the "preference utilitarianism" of R.M. Hare (1919–2002), actions are right if they maximize the satisfaction of preferences or desires, no matter what the preferences may be for. Consequentialists also differ over whether each individual action should be judged on the basis of its consequences or whether instead general rules of conduct should be judged in this way and individual actions judged only by whether they accord with a general rule. The former group are known as "act-utilitarians" and the latter as "rule-utilitarians." See also deontological ethics.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Consequentialism — is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission) is… …   Wikipedia

  • consequentialism — 1969, from CONSEQUENTIAL (Cf. consequential) + ISM (Cf. ism). The philosophy that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences. Related: Consequentialist …   Etymology dictionary

  • consequentialism —    Consequentialism is the view that the moral worth of an action is determined by its consequences, in the popular slogan The end justifies the means . The label was originated by Elizabeth Anscombe in her 1958 essay Modern Moral Philosophy .… …   Christian Philosophy

  • consequentialism — n. an approach to ethical questions holding that actions should be judged by their consequences and not according to their intrinsic nature or the motives or character of those performing them. According to this view, the right course of action… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • consequentialism — The view that the value of an action derives entirely from the value of its consequences. This contrasts both with the view that the value of an action may derive from the value of the kind of character whose action it is (courageous, just,… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • consequentialism — noun Date: 1982 the theory that the value and especially the moral value of an act should be judged by the value of its consequences • consequentialist adjective or noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • consequentialism — noun a) The ethical study of morals, duties and rights with an approach that focuses consequences of a particular action. b) The belief that consequences form the basis for any valid moral judgment about an action. Thus, from a consequentialist… …   Wiktionary

  • consequentialism — n. belief that value of an action derives exclusively from the value of its consequences …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Consequentialism — the belief that what ultimately matters in evaluating actions or policies of action are the consequences that result from choosing one action or policy rather than the alternative …   Mini philosophy glossary

  • consequentialism — noun Philosophy the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences. Derivatives consequentialist adjective &noun …   English new terms dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”