`Doing the right thing….

Doing ‘the right thing’ – how do you know?

A quick look into the murky world of morality…

Two ideas here that compete for our attention are ‘consequentialism-utilitarianism’ and ‘deontology’. Those of you who are philosophers will realise the importance of giving very long labels to very simple ideas, so here goes.

Consequentialism-utilitarianism is the idea that acts should be judged by their consequences. There is no ‘right and wrong’, only what works. What ‘works’ is whatever brings about the best consequences or increases the overall level of happiness (or decreases the overall level of unhappiness). This is the philosophy of ‘ends’ over means.

‘Deontology’ refers to ‘duty-based’ ethics. Here, the idea is that one must always do the right thing, regardless of the consequences.

Unfortunately, in our search for a one-size-fits-all moral code, both of these ideas come up short…

 

 

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