Ethics: Theory and Practice. Jacques P. Thiroux Keith W. Krasemann. Chapter Two. Consequentialist (Teleological) Theories of Morality. Two Viewpoints of Morality. Consequentialist (teleological) Morality is based on or concerned with consequences Nonconsequentialist (deontological)
Ethics: Theory and Practice Jacques P. Thiroux Keith W. Krasemann
Chapter Two Consequentialist (Teleological) Theories of Morality
Two Viewpoints of Morality • Consequentialist (teleological) • Morality is based on or concerned with consequences • Nonconsequentialist (deontological) • Morality is not based on or concerned with consequences
Two Major Consequentialist Ethical Theories • Ethical Egoism • Utilitarianism • Both theories agree that human beings ought to behave in ways that will bring about good consequences • The theories disagree on who should benefit from these consequences • Ethical egoism act in self-interest • Utilitarianism act for the interests of all
Psychological Egoism • Psychological egoism is not an ethical theory but a descriptive or scientific theory having to do with egoism • Two forms: • Strong form: people always act in their own self-interest • Weaker form: people often, but not always, act in their own self-interest
Psychological Egoism • In its strong form • Does not refute morality • In its weaker form • Does not provide a rational foundation for ethical egoism • What about circumstances in which people do unselfish things, even though they do not want to do them?
Ethical Egoism • Ethical egoism is a philosophical-normative, prescriptive theory • Three forms: • The individual form (everyone ought to act in my self-interest) • The personal form (I ought to act in my own self-interest, but make no claims on what others should do) • The universal form (everyone should always act in his or her own self-interest)
Problems with Universal Ethical Egoism • Universal ethical egoism is the theory most commonly presented, but still has problems • Inconsistency • It is unclear whose self-interest should be satisfied
Problems with Universal Ethical Egoism • What is Meant by Everyone • The term “everyone” is unclear • Everyone’s interests create conflicts and inconsistencies • Difficulty in Giving Moral Advice • It is difficult to determine how to give moral advice
Problems with Universal Ethical Egoism • Blurring the Moral and Nonmoral Uses of Ought and Should • Supporters of egoism tend to blur the moral and nonmoral uses of ought and should • This makes universal egoism highly impractical and, at worst, creates conflicts and inconsistencies
Problems with Universal Ethical Egoism • Inconsistent with Helping Professions • Ethical egoism in any form does not provide the proper ethical basis for people in helping professions • Some people in helping professions do so out of self-interest • Others do so to help others • A highly self-interested attitude would not serve one well in a helping profession
Advantages of Universal Ethical Egoism • It is easier to determine self-interest • It is easier for individuals to determine what their own interests are • It encourages individual freedom and responsibility • It works when people operate in limited spheres, isolated from one another, which minimizes conflict
Limitations Of Universal Ethical Egoism • It offers no consistent method of resolving conflicts of self-interests • While individuals operate in limited spheres, it is much easier to maintain self-interest • As soon as individual or limited spheres start to overlap, individual self-interests will start to conflict • Some principle of justice or compromise must be brought in to address that conflict
Ayn Rand’s Rational Ethical Egoism • Ayn Rand was the foremost exponent of universal ethical egoism (which she called rational ethical egoism) • Self-interests of rational human beings, by virtue of their being rational, will never conflict • That theory does not address the very real conflicts that do actually arise in our crowded and interdependent societies
Utilitarianism • Utilitarianism maintains that everyone should perform that act or follow that moral rule which will bring about the greatest good (or happiness) for everyone concerned
Act Utilitarianism • Act utilitarianism says that everyone should perform that act which will bring about the greatest amount of good over bad for everyone affected by the act • One cannot establish rules in advance to cover all situations and people because they are all different
Criticisms of Act Utilitarianism • It is difficult to determine the consequences for others • What may be a good consequences for you may not be equally, or at all, good for another • How are you to tell unless you can ask other people what would be good for them?
Criticisms of Act Utilitarianism • It is impractical to have to begin anew for each situation and to have to decide what would be moral for that situation • Is each act and each person completely and uniquely different? • An act utilitarian might argue that there are many similarities among people and their behaviors that would justify the laying down of certain rules
Criticisms of Act Utilitarianism • It is difficult to educate the young or uninitiated in acting morally without rules or guides to follow • The only guide would be: Each person must assess what would be the greatest good consequences of each act for each situation that arises
Rule Utilitarianism • Rule utilitarianism states that everyone always should follow the rules that will bring the greatest number of good consequences for all concerned • There are enough similar human motives, actions, and situations to justify setting up rules that will apply to all human beings and all situations
Criticisms of Rule Utilitarianism • It is difficult to determine consequences for others • It would be difficult to be sure that a rule can be established to cover the diversity of human beings, which will truly and always bring about the greatest good for all • It is difficult to educate the young and uninitiated
Cost-Benefit Analysis • Creates problems for utilitarianism: • Danger of trying to determine the social worth of individuals • The greatest good is often interpreted as the “greatest good of the majority,” with possible immoral consequences to the minority • Does even a good end justify any means used to attain it, or should we also consider our means and motives?
Difficulty with Consequentialist Theories in General • Consequentialist theories demand that we discover and determine all of the consequences of our actions or rules • That is virtually impossible • Do consequences or ends constitute all of morality?
Care Ethics • Established by Carol Gilligan, sometimes called “feminist ethics” • There are fundamental differences between men and women: • Men’s moral attitudes have to do with justice, rights, competition, being independent, and living by the rules • Women’s moral attitudes have to do with generosity, harmony, reconciliation, and working to maintain close relationships
Criticisms of Gilligan’s Theory • Gilligan’s theory raises “female values” over “male values” • It replaces one unfair system with another • The theory seems to prescribe more traditional gender roles to men and women • I.e. Men are most concerned with justice, so only men should be judges