I come back to the fundamental question of the topic which is: "Is objectivism consequentialist?" This time I've read most of the topic (not all because a lot of messages seem to deviate from the original subject) and I felt trouble in the force.
Sorry if I made mistakes in English, it's not my primary language.
As 2046 rightly said, the point of Grames (page 5), which says consequentialism is an "empty doctrine" is invalid in itself, because consequentialism is not a moral doctrine as such, but simply a category of moral doctrine. The generally opposite category, deontology, is also "empty" and silent about on what the good is. Grames (and others) makes another mistake in believing that "every theory of good and of the virtues is trivially consequentialist" and that one can "bolt the standard objectivist of value - your own life - onto consequentialism" because Objectivist ethics is actually incompatible with the consequentism, I will explain why. It's pretty simple.
I will use quotations from Rand and Peikoff that have already been given several times in this topic, but which, I think, have not always been clearly understood.
The reasoning of StrictlyLogical (who, if I understand well, thinks that Objectivist ethics is compatible with consequentialism) are sometimes brilliant, but he has just missed a crucial point.
Objectivist ethics can not be classified as consequentialist for exactly the same reasons that Ayn Rand rejected utilitarianism and hedonism.
What is consequentialism? Taking the consequence as the sole standard of good.
YES, the Objectivist ethic deals with causality, so it fully takes into account the consequences (which is why some people seems troubled), BUT it does not consider the consequences as the standard of the good. The pursuit of values does not imply consequentialism.
To know whether Objectivist ethics is consequentialist or not, the crucial question is not: Should the consequences be taken into account in a moral theory? (The answer is YES, of course, otherwise we fall back anyway into the intrincist theory of value). The crucial question is: WHERE does morality lies? In the action? In the consequences of the action? Both ? In the relationship between the two? Or elsewhere?
Here is why, in short, Objectivist ethics is not consequentialist: Consequentialism confuses the consequences of morality with morality itself. In other words, it confuses the standard with the purpose of morality.
Consequentialism says: morality does not lies in action, but exclusively in the consequences of action. Objectivist ethics does not say that.
Think about the relation between morality and consequences like the relation between knowledge and emotions, because it's exactly the same kind of relation. Values are knowledge, and emotions are consequences. Ayn Rand used to say: "Emotions are not tools of cognition." because emotions are consequences of ideas or knowledge and not idea or knowledge by itself. We can also say somehow : "Consequences are not tools of morality".
Back to the fundamental question: Why does man need a moral code? (Any moral code.) In order to guide his action. And action is always a mean. In other words, morality always deals with means.
Of course it is necessary to have a goal, values (to give meaning to the action-means), but the goal alone is not enough (contrary to the consequentialist view), there must be a standard for discriminating actions that are consistent with this goal and actions that are not. In other words, a standard is needed to identify the virtues.
Why do we need a standard? Why do our actions need to be guided by a moral criterion? Because man does not have automatic knowledge. He does not function by instinct, and he is not omniscient, a human being can not fully foresee the future when he acts, he do not know in advance all the consequences. (Which would be a pre-condition of consequentialism ...) So he needs a guide, that is to say a moral code. As it has been said by many of you, we can not evaluate actions post-facto ...
We must therefore identify a standard that accords with the purpose, where we can rationally show the necessary dependency relation between the standard and the purpose as a cause-and-effect relationship (life is the cause, the effect is happiness, as Ayn Rand says in the following quote).
According to Objectivist ethics, life is not the consequence or the purpose of morality, it is the standard. The purpose is happiness.
Life is the ultimate value because it is the condition of happiness. Without life, there is no happiness. But life is not an action. Life is the standard that makes it possible to judge the morality of an action, in other words, whether it is virtuous or not. Moral action is virtue, and it is practiced by choice.
A consequentialist morality such as utilitarianism for instance, says: What is the purpose of morality? Happiness. (We agree.) But then immediately it says: So, everything that makes you happy is good. Happiness is the good.
But it is not happiness that is moral as such. Happiness is a consequence of a proper morality. In other words, happiness is not the good, happiness is a consequence of the good. There is confusion in utilitarianism between standard and purpose.
To say: "the consequences are the moral standard" is a contradiction, it's like saying: "morality is useless" or "morality does not serve to guide action" or "man does not need a guide to action." To say, as consequentialism claims, that morality does not lie in action is to say that virtue does not exist. There is no moral code, no moral principles.
For example, imagine that I am faced with an alternative. To determine how I should act, I will think, "I must choose my action according to such consequence." (happiness for instance) This is the consequentialist morality in its totality. This is not wrong in itself, but there is no morality yet: it is obviously insufficient to guide the action. Then I have to think and tell myself: "What actions would cause this consequence?" How to know? (In other words, what virtues should I practice?) In short: I need a moral code.
In itself, having a purpose (happiness for example) is necessary, but not enough to determine a rational action plan. How do you determine what makes you happy? The moral code (life for example) is used to identify how to achieve this purpose. The purpose of your life.