Consequentialism: Hedonism, Egoism, Utilitarianism

Means and Ends-Based Ethics:

  • Consequentialism​
  • Duty Ethics or Deontological Ethics​


  • Carvaka and Epicurus​
  • Hedonism; Materialism; Epicureanism​
  • Eat, Drink and Be Merry​

Epicurus and Ethics:​

Psychological & Modern Hedonism…​

Psychological Hedonism: ​
Ultimate object of desire is pleasure.​

Michel Onfray: Ethical Hedonism: ​Ethical hedonism is defined as “an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else.”​

Egoism:Self interest is the foundation of morality​.

1. Psychological
2. Ethical
3. Rational

Paradox of Hedonism or Pleasure Paradox:

Peter Singer:​
Henry Sidgwick: ​
Deliberately seeking out pleasure can be self-defeating. Pleasure is always a by-product of an activity.​

Activity: Where does Ethics come from:

  • God and Religion
  • A rational moral cost-benefit analysis of actions and their effects
  • The example of good human beings
  • Political Power
  • Human Conscience and Intuition


“Of all the things a person might do at any given moment, the morally right action is the one with the best overall consequences.” ​

Proponents: Bentham; Stuart Mill; Henry Sidgwick
Focuses on: Maximum good for maximum people;
Maximum happiness for maximum people.

Act Utilitarianism:

​A particular action is morally good only if it produces more overall good than any alternative action. ​

Act Utilitarianism/Act Consequentialism: Problems

  • Each act requires prior assessment and research leading to delayed response ​
  • All judgments are not alike​
  • Intended and real consequences​ cannot be mapped each time
  • Possibility of manipulation​
  • Gives too much autonomy to individuals

Rule Utilitarianism:

  • Whether acts are good or bad depends on moral rules.
  • Moral rules are chosen solely on the basis of their consequences. ​
  • An action is morally right if and only if it does not violate the set of rules of behaviour whose general acceptance in the community would have the best consequences–that is, at least as good as any rival set of rules or no rules at all. ​

Consequentialism: Criticism

  • Possibilities of difference between Intended utility and actually resultant utility
  • Future consequences are difficult to predict.
  • Measuring and comparing the ‘goodness’ of consequences is very difficult​.
  • It is easy to bias in favour of particular groups.
  • ​It ignores things we regard as ethically relevant​.
  • It doesn’t take account of the ‘fairness’ of the result.
  • It may go against the idea of democracy​.
  • It is may go against the idea of Human Rights​.
  • Utility means a different thing for different people.

Deontological Ethics/Duty Ethics:Immanuel Kant and Bhagavad Gita – click to continue…