Discipline: Philosophy

Doctrine that the moral rightness of an act or policy depends entirely on its consequences; the moral goodness of the agent depending on the act's expected or intended consequences.

This is one form of teleology, utilitarianism is one form of consequentialism.

Objections include the apparent moral counterintuitiveness of many consequentialist prescriptions, especially in connection with justice, reward and punishment, and with the difficulties in deciding what the consequences of an action are.

Also see: deontology

P Foot, 'Utilitarianism and the Virtues', Mind (1985); with discussion by S Scheffler


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