Consequentialism

The Normative Moral theory (also know as 'Teleological Ethics') which maintains the obligation (or 'rightness') of an action is determined by the consequences which follow from the act. If an action produces good consequences, it is considered a 'right' action.

The most important question for a consequentialist to answer is, What is a good consequence and for whom is it good?

Different attempts to answer this question give rise to distinct versions of Consequentialism:

  1. Hedonism - whatever brings me the most pleasure

  2. Egoism - whatever brings me the most happiness:

    1. Psychological Egoism - everyone (as a matter of fact) always acts in their own best interest

    2. Ethical Egoism - everyone should always act in heir own best interest

      1. Individual Ethical Egoism - everyone ought to act so as to promote my well being
      2. Universal Ethical Egoism - everyone ought to act so as to promote their own well being

    3. Utilitarianism - whatever brings about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people:

      1. Act Utilitarianism - an action is 'good' just in case it brings about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people
      2. Rule Utilitarianism - a rule is 'good' just in case it brings about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people

Most consequentialist agree that 'good' should be defined as pleasure, although not, strictly speaking, physical pleasure. J.S. Mill attempts to draw a distinction between pleasure which is physical and that which is mental.