If the person at the door were to say to the Nazi [...] Therefore, the action was wrong – and not because bribery is illegal.
In every situation, the moral value of an action is determined by the balance of harm and benefit that results, not because it conforms to or violates a rule. So, to prove this point, I have to provide situations in which the normal moral rules do not apply.
Here’s an example that isn’t too ancient. In 2000, a couple from Malta brought their conjoined baby twins, [...] Because the court reasoned consequentially, Jody is alive. If they had followed the “Natural Law” morality of the Catholic Church, both girls would be dead. I think that this demonstrates the superiority of consequentialism over rule-based ethics such as natural law.
Are you asking me to assume, for this thought experiment, that the rapist concluded through consequential analysis that if he raped the woman, [...] But, even if it were true, the man still must be jailed for breaking the law. Public order is best served when the public expects consistent application of law.
I’ve read this over several times, Db0, and as far as I can see you are agreeing with me.
Of course the actions considered are those that are actually available. That is the only constraint.
My concern is not to condemn anyone, it is to provide the framework for moral reasoning that will lead to the greatest good for the greatest number.
The other is to show that the moral value of the decision is determined by its consequences, not by intent. I don’t doubt that the parents had good intent, but leaving the decision to “God’s will” would have resulted in Jody’s death. So I thought the example was useful to the discussion.Then I have been misunderstood. I never defended that the a moral value is set by solely the intentions. I only said that consequentialism does not take into account the intentions at all which is wrong.
As I’ve stated, the purpose of act utilitarianism is to establish the best framework for moral reasoning, not for punishment and reward. If a person concludes that he can prevent future rapes by committing this one rape (a premise that I consider ludicrous) then indeed, it follows that he should do it.
Laws are rules, but rules are not determinative of the best consequences. The best rule will only lead to favorable consequences some percentage of the time. There are times when, indeed, people have a moral obligation to break the law, but they should expect to pay the consequences
Returning to our Nazi example, the person has a moral obligation to hide the Jew because it may save his life. But if he is caught, he should expect that he will be charged with a crime, convicted and punished.
Again, you are hung up on punishment. The purpose of an ethical system should be to provide a basis for moral reasoning that leads to the greatest good for the greatest number
I think that you are making the mistake of judging another time with the moral prejudices of your own time.
Nor do I think that “don’t go to war” is a universally applicable precept. Groups will inevitably come into existential conflicts, such as over water rights. In fact, such wars are minimized by uniting the cities and nations in an empire that will resolve conflicts. But, to achieve an empire, you have to fight wars.
Consequential moral reasoning is really not difficult for most people, as we all use it at times. And once you learn it, it easily becomes a habit. I’ve learned to use it exclusively when considering moral problems.
I think that it is a major shortcoming of public schooling that there is no teaching of ethics[...] hey should be presented with moral dilemmas, and read analyses from different moral perspectives. Including, of course, Act Utilitarianism.