Examining Teleological (Consequentialist) Ethics

Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy

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Teleological ethics (also known as Consequentialism) comes from the Greek word “telos” which means goal. It argues that the moral rightness of an action is determined by the maximization of happiness. According to philosophers William Lane Craig and James Moreland, “[T]eleological ethics holds that the rightness or wrongness of an act is exclusively a function of the goodness or badness of the consequences of that act” (1).

The 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill captured the essence of this when he wrote that “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain” (2). On this view, to steal a valuable item treasured by someone else would cause the “reverse of happiness” as it would cause pain to the owner. Such behaviour would surely not support human flourishing and…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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