Consequential Ethics


Consequentialism is a category of normative, teleological ethical theories in ethical philosophy that asserts that the ultimate standard for determining whether one’s actions are right or wrong is the consequences of those actions.

Teleological and consequentialism are types of theories. They lack a crucial component that would make them into theories in their own right: they don’t state the objectives or outcomes that need to inform moral judgments and behavior. As we can say that consequentialism is simply a way to categorize ethical ways or theories.

According to consequentialism, whether an act is moral largely depends on its motive, circumstances around it, and any applicable laws. When a positive outcome is achieved, an action is moral.

Forms of Consequential Ethics:

  • Rule Consequentialism.
  • State Consequentialism.
  • Consequentialism on Two levels.
  • Intentional Consequentialism.
  • Consequentialism with Negative Impact


The classic illustration of a consequentialist moral philosophy throughout history is utilitarianism. According to this interpretation of utilitarianism, the happiness of all people as a whole, rather than the happiness of any one person, in particular, is what matters. A hierarchy of pleasures was advocated by John Stuart Mill in his explication of hedonistic utilitarianism, in this hierarchy, he describes that some pleasures are to be elevated at a high level as compared to some other pleasures. But some modern utilitarians, like Peter Singer, are more likely focused on maximizing the fulfillment of preferences, which is why preference utilitarianism is a thing.

Rule Consequentialism:

The theory of Rule Consequentialism has occasionally been criticized for appearing as a compromise between consequentialism and deontology, or rules-based ethics. As in deontology similarly in rule consequentialism, asserts that upholding moral standards necessitates adhering to set guidelines. On the other hand Rule consequentialism, makes decisions about rules based on the effects that those decisions will have. The ideologies of rule utilitarianism and rule egoism are examples of rule consequentialism.

State Consequentialism:

State consequentialism, often refer to as Mohist consequentialism. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, we found out that Mohist consequentialism is regarded as the world’s most ancient form of consequentialism as it stretches back to the 5th century BCE. State or Mohist consequentialism is regarded as an ethical theory that accesses the moral value of actions and works for the welfare of the state.

By the Mohists, morality means to privilege the people and to lessen their sufferings. Jeremy Bentham’s theory or views are a contrast as he believes that state consequentialism is not utilitarian. Community-friendly results are more significant than personal pleasure and suffering. State consequentialism is another name for Xunzi’s political outlook, which is based on Confucian thought whereas Han Fei, a “legalist,” is a big supporter of the ruler’s point of view.

Consequentialism on Two Levels:

Before coming to an ethical conclusion, the two-level methodology critically evaluates all the possible aspects and outcomes of an individual’s actions. But it also involves falling back on usually dependable moral principles if an individual is not able to access the situation in its entirety. This translates to subscribing to the rule of consequentialism when an individual can simply understand the activity of consequentialism impulsively. This viewpoint might characterize a reconciliation between rule consequentialism and act consequentialism.

Intentional Consequentialism:

The concept of intentional or motive consequentialism is another form of consequentialism. This form examines the outcomes of those steps which has been taken for the betterment of the state, are these steps are as productive as compared the other steps. In this interpretation, the motivation behind behavior is connected to its effects. That’s why if the decision is taken with a specific purpose in mind, there will be the desired result. The conclusion of this is, a person with good intentions or motivation cannot be held accountable for making poor decisions.

Consequentialism with Negative Impact:

A large number of consequential theories promote consequences based on positive outcomes but negative utilitarianism presents a theory that is entirely concerned with decreasing negative outcomes.

These two strategies differ significantly in one important way: the assistant’s obligation. As we all know that positive consequentialism wants us to create beneficial outcomes whereas negative consequentialism means to lessen or resist unfavorable consequences. h2er negative consequentialist theories will necessitate effective steps for the prevention of damage and to lessen the harmful effects if it has already occurred. Simple abstinence from actions that would damage others is adequate in weaker versions.

The principle that alleviating pain is more significant than enhancing pleasure may be used nationally or internationally when examining a theory of justice by negative consequentialists.

MCQs on Ethics

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Past Papers of Ethics

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Tutorials on Ethics

  1. Consequential Ethics
  2. Research Ethics and Principles
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