Best Criterion for Formalizing Ethical Judgments – Deontological or Consequentialist Ethics?

Which do you believe is the best criterion for formalizing ethical judgments: deontological or consequentialist ethics?

Consequentialism refers to an ethical theory which judges if something is right or wrong based on its consequences. Based on this theory, an act is regarded to be right if it brings more joy and happiness to many and wrong if it brings pain. This is irrespective of whether the act is regarded as right or wrong in our moral perspective. Deontology on the other hand centers on the wrongness or rightness of the action despite of the outcome. Ethical judgment in my belief should be based on the outcome. An act that results to mass suffering should not be regarded to be ethical. I therefore believe that consequentialism should be the best criterion to be used in formalizing ethical judgment. This will ensure that all ethical decisions made are of great benefit to the majority and they do not cause pain.

Do you believe the two approaches can inform one another and how?

In my opinion I believe the two theories do inform each other to some extent. Although the two theories seems to be highly based on anticipated results or he act nature, what makes an action wrong or right might not be definable without regarding its connection with results in one form or another. Orientations of deontology rarely disregard outcomes totally. For instance, if two acts which are equally moral contain different results, even a deontologist might take the consideration of the results. Correspondingly, consequentialism might also take account of deontological aspects. In integrating long-term with short-term considerations, it might be sensible to use general procedures for action and vindicate them with consequentialism rationalization. Moreover, if results are equivalent, the act nature might be considered. This implies that the two theories are not mutually exclusive since they can inform each other to some extent or in particular cases (Tanner, Medin &, Iliev, 2007).


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