[ExI] Consequentialism

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Tue Aug 27 21:25:02 UTC 2019

Quoting BillK:

> John has raised the question -
> "how can anyone who can see the beauty in science and the magnificence
> of the universe have the slightest sympathy for these sphincters?"

I don't sympathize with the native Hawaiians, but I can empathize with  
them. Without a lengthy explanation, there is a subtle difference  
between the two, and to me sympathy is a passive, undisciplined, form  
of empathy. While empathy is something like the Lorentz transformation  
of moral relativism, a skill someone can develop to get into another's  

> Apart from requiring attendance at Aunt Agatha's School of Charm and  
> Etiquette,
> this is a direct statement of consequentialism.
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism>
> Quote:
> Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding
> that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any
> judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from
> a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from
> acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.
> ---------

Good for whom? What is good for the fox is seldom good for the hare.  
Both employ the same means by running as fast as they can. But when a  
fox chases a hare, the outcome cannot be good for both. There is no  
objective good or evil. There is only conflicts of interest, winners,  
and losers. And since the winners write the history books, history is  
necessarily consequentialist.

> The obvious problem with this is that it is saying that the end
> justifies the means.
> And this can be used to justify any morally dubious conduct.

I can think of no conduct so morally dubious as to not have been  
normative in some culture somewhere at some point in time. Thus does  
the pious Muslim beat his under-aged wives to ensure Allah's favor,  
and the virtuous Christian knight baptize Muslim babies with holy  
water before crushing their skulls.

> Definition of "the end justifies the means" -
> ?used to say that a desired result is so good or important that any
> method, even a morally bad one, may be used to achieve it.
> "They believe that the end justifies the means and will do anything to get
> their candidate elected".

The problem with the "the end justifying the means" is that nothing  
ever really ends because the consequences just keep coming. And most  
of those consequences are unintended.

> Therefore this requires that they must define what they mean by "good"
> consequences and how this "good" offsets the bad consequences of all the
> "justified" evil or illegal actions.

Good and evil are far too subjective to be useful in judging  
consequences. Instead ask: whom and how many does the action benefit  
and whom and how many does it harm?

> As with all philosophy people usually compromise. Absolute rules need
> exceptions to deal with the rough and tumble of human existence.

Only absolutists need compromise anything. Moral relativists simply  
need to choose a side and play to win.

Stuart LaForge

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