Philosophy 168 - 9.2 Consequentialism

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify the meaning and purpose of the consequentialist approach.
  • Summarize Mohist and utilitarian interpretations of consequentialism.

Most people make at least some decisions based on the likely consequences of their actions. You might, for example, appeal to costs and benefits to justify a decision. For example, you might consider the happiness your friend will feel when discovering that you’ve filled the gas tank (a benefit) and weigh that against the price of a tank of gas (cost). In doing so, you are analyzing consequences to yourself and to your friend. Consequentialists, however, ask you to take a wider view. In consequentialism, an action is right when it produces the greatest good for everyone. An agent is tasked with assessing possible consequences to determine which action will maximize good for all those who might be impacted. This section looks at two consequentialist approaches, Mohism and utilitarianism.

This lesson has no exercises.

The content of this course has been taken from the free Philosophy textbook by Openstax