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Is objectivism consequentialist?

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Not just that that there are ends, but that -any- means is appropriate as long as the end is correct.

Based on this definition of consequentialism, it is a kind of ethics that is irrational. If any solution is ethical, then the least efficient, harmful, whim-based solutions that achieve the goal are ethical. Ironically, it would be an ethics (consequentialism) that does not take all consequences into consideration, which is necessary to choose the best "means". 

The modifications that you mention could change the definition dramatically. There could be a rational and an irrational version of consequentialism. So one could say the irrational version is not compatible with Objectivism but the rational version may be.

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7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

If any solution is ethical, then the least efficient, harmful, whim-based solutions that achieve the goal are ethical. Ironically, it would be an ethics (consequentialism) that does not take all consequences into consideration, which is necessary to choose the best "means". 

This is not correct.  This would be possible but for the following:

1.  Reality

2.  The nature of Man.

3.  The standard of Morality being a man's life, long range.

 

Consider any subsidiary (short term, small etc.) goal, which is pursued to serve as a means to the more ultimate goal, it must be in accord with the standard, which is life long range, so it cannot be harmful or an "unethical" means.  Any and all goals, if moral, cannot be unethical in the way you suggest.

Also be careful, virtues and principles, are useful because no one can predict with perfect certainty the consequences of each and every action, rough guidelines are useful, and efficient, because we are not omniscient and cannot take all consequences into consideration (we simply don't have the knowledge or the time).

Man cannot be judged immoral because he is fallible.

 

Edit:  So in a real sense, because of Man's nature, one adopts principles and practices virtue, not because they are ends in themselves divorced from the standard of morality, but because they precisely are the most efficient and effective way to bring about, as a consequence of their adoption, the ends.

If Man were omniscient, there would be no need of virtues or principles, he could simply choose actions one by one according to his values and knowing all the consequences.  But that is not the nature of man.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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20 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The ends, life, long range, is not required to "justify" anything.  In fact "justice" itself is only validated because life requires it.  Does life justify the virtue justice?  No... life is first, justice (only one of many other things) follows as a requirement.

The ends, life long range, in fact require the means, morality: virtue, principles, moral action, only because life long range is a consequence of them.

 

What else could morality: virtue, principles, moral action possibly be for?

 

 

We have an interesting confusion, brought about (first) by our different ideas of consequentialism.

Definitions!

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 the conduct. [Wiki]

Consequentialism is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. [Stanford]

Do you see the point? What is good is what works; what is bad, what doesn't work. Here is a totally a-principled, amoral, irrational and arbitrary approach to ethics. (And if it happens to "work" the first time, in one context, we'd just repeat it in other contexts until it fails). The contrasts with Objectivist theory hardly have to be mentioned.

About the definition of justice-as-virtue I also disagree. There is a "justice" which Rand refers to in the Intro of VoS, that is of a far broader type than the virtue, and which I think you are thinking of and where I completely agree. "Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men's actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others. [...]"

In this reasoning, the actor (in his work effort, and so on) must receive all his due outcomes and rewards (material, intellectual)without interference or penalty - to support his values and life - and that is "justice" to him. I think of this as, roughly, 'justice in reality', and we can observe the principle carried into Rand's individual rights and Capitalism.

Justice the virtue, I will look up and show a link next.

 

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6 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If Man were omniscient, there would be no need of virtues or principles, he could simply choose actions one by one according to his values and knowing all the consequences.  But that is not the nature of man.

Agreed, what I mean when I said all consequences, I meant all consequences to his knowledge. Which I realize brings up another question. At what point is it ethical to stop sifting through consequences? At what point is it proper to stop thinking?

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12 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Agreed, what I mean when I said all consequences, I meant all consequences to his knowledge. Which I realize brings up another question. At what point is it ethical to stop sifting through consequences? At what point is it proper to stop thinking?

You simply do not have all the knowledge, and don't have the time to gain it all (that would be infinite), you also cannot think of every possible consequence, or outcome, or secondary, or n-ary consequences projecting indefinitely into the future.  How much is enough?  It's a cost benefit analysis. 

 

You risk your life by stepping into the bustling city streets without any thought put to the risks, you risk missing your life entirely if you stay at home endlessly amassing knowledge about every possible risk that stepping into the city would expose you to.

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54 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

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 the conduct. [Wiki]

Consequentialism is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. [Stanford]

Do you see the point? What is good is what works; what is bad, what doesn't work. Here is a totally a-principled, amoral, irrational and arbitrary approach to ethics.

 

Wow, I can see this going in many directions. If consequentialism is based on "the single incident", without causality in mind, meaning, what just happened worked so it is ethical, it ends up being arbitrary and irrational. Although to be nitpicky about it, it is not completely amoral as there is still a method to the madness.

If someone told me "think of the consequences", my mind races all over the place, I see consequences as plural. I see this coming into play regarding hedonism vs. rational self-interest. The goal is always pleasure or avoidance of pain. But when there are other consequences and the long run to consider, the hedonistic goal may or may not be the rational choice (Based on consequences).

 

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

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 the conduct. [Wiki]

Consequentialism is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. [Stanford]

Against what, other than the consequences to life, long range, does one judge the morality of action according to Objectivist ethics?  Against what, other than the standard of morality, does one set as the standard for judging the rightness or wrongness of conduct?

The above are perfectly fine accordingly Objectivism, as long as one does not import into the concepts "conduct" or "consequences" invalid or improper meanings.

Here's an example: A man decides consciously he is going to smoke crack or eat a nutritious salad, but that his choice will be determined by purposefully thinking of names of people he hates beginning with the letter "c" and "s".  Upon determining he hates more people with names beginning with "c" he eats the salad.  What has he done?  Has he simply eaten a salad?  By all accounts of reality, the nature of man an psychology has this person decided to engage in more conduct than simply eating a salad?  and as to the consequences, by virtue of what he consciously decided to do and what he did, are the consequences limited to merely his stomach having a salad in it?  Does he remember that he almost smoked crack?  How does his introspection on his choice to make such a dangerous decision based on arbitrary factors as names of people he hates affect his self-esteem .. affect how he thinks about whether he values himself or his life?

Taking into full account all that "conduct" or "action" means, and all the "consequences" are as they pertain to life, long range... there is no room for attempting to claim that the consequences of "bad" action are sometimes "good".  By definition of morality having a standard the conduct is good or bad because the consequences (long range) are good or bad.

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

Do you see the point? What is good is what works; what is bad, what doesn't work. Here is a totally a-principled, amoral, irrational and arbitrary approach to ethics. (And if it happens to "work" the first time, in one context, we'd just repeat it in other contexts until it fails). The contrasts with Objectivist theory hardly have to be mentioned.

This is an equivocation and in a sense backwards.  All what "works" means is that the desired ends are achieved.  There are reasons man needs morality in the first place, Objectivism is precisely about what kind of morality works for that purpose.  The goal is life, long range, and applies to a fallible mortal man.  Objectivist morality works and it is the opposite of the a-principled, amoral, irrational and arbitrary.

 

Imagine a supposed virtue and a set of related principles that would not have any positive consequence on a man's life, long range (which happens to be the standard of morality), then a man's adopting them would precisely constitute an a-principled, amoral, and irrational approach to ethics.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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12 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Wow, I can see this going in many directions. If consequentialism is based on "the single incident", without causality in mind, meaning, what just happened worked so it is ethical, it ends up being arbitrary and irrational. Although to be nitpicky about it, it is not completely amoral as there is still a method to the madness.

If someone told me "think of the consequences", my mind races all over the place, I see consequences as plural. I see this coming into play regarding hedonism vs. rational self-interest. The goal is always pleasure or avoidance of pain. But when there are other consequences and the long run to consider, the hedonistic goal may or may not be the rational choice (Based on consequences).

 

The definitions do not include a limitation that the consequences specifically be "single incidents".  Knowing the probability of winning with a certain hand at poker leads to a rational choice/bet if the desired consequence is winning.  Built into the game (similar to life) is the absence of omniscience (not knowing all the cards in the deck and in everyone's hand), but using the knowledge of the chances of winning can lead to a player who in the long run, wins more than his buddies.  So here, one form of conduct is rational, long range, repeated action based on probabilities, and a consequentialist view of such conduct would be that it is good for winning at poker... and it is.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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52 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Wow, I can see this going in many directions. If consequentialism is based on "the single incident", without causality in mind, meaning, what just happened worked so it is ethical, it ends up being arbitrary and irrational. Although to be nitpicky about it, it is not completely amoral as there is still a method to the madness.

If someone told me "think of the consequences", my mind races all over the place, I see consequences as plural. I see this coming into play regarding hedonism vs. rational self-interest. The goal is always pleasure or avoidance of pain. But when there are other consequences and the long run to consider, the hedonistic goal may or may not be the rational choice (Based on consequences).

 

"Without causality in mind". That says plenty. It's starting to seem more likely to me that consequentialism reverses cause and effect. I.e. The consequence determines future cause. If we can predict every consequence of acts, we would be not man, omniscient a few guys have said. What one does have control over is a consciousness which can conceive of a range of the possible/probable/certain effects of one's actions, and the volition to re-direct and change them on the fly, where necessary. Remarked on above too, there aren't any thou shalts here, the O'ist morality is all hypothetical imperative: "If" - "then..." For that, one has to know -why- to value and -what- to value. I want that -- therefore, must do this. Finally, the individual should take the responsibility for whatever could not be anticipated and goes wrong, the identical reason he must get the benefits he deserves. 

Edited by whYNOT

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8 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The definitions do not include a limitation that the consequences specifically be "single incidents". 

At this point of the conversation, I can see that some of the definitions render consequentialism as irrational.

1. Any solution/means that reaches the goal is "good, right, okay, etc."

2.The ethical way can be extracted from a single incident that worked without any more thinking.

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

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 the conduct. [Wiki]

Consequentialism is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. [Stanford]

 

The problem is that the Wiki and Standford definitions don't eliminate the possibility of the two I mentioned.

A definition that emphasizes that a goal, encompasses other subgoals that also need to be reached and that other consequences should not harm the ultimate goal and that we have to consider "why" what we did works, then consequentialism (based on definition) gets close to a rational way of life.

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3 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

A definition that emphasizes that a goal, encompasses other subgoals that also need to be reached and that other consequences should not harm the ultimate goal and that we have to consider "why" what we did works, then consequentialism (based on definition) gets close to a rational way of life.

This does not require the redefinition of consequentialism.  They become part of the package as soon as the consequences of the particular normative ethical are as broad and as absolute as "life" itself. 

When the choice, i.e. the chosen consequence, is life, reality itself including man's nature, automatically dictates the "shoulds" and the "have tos" you speak of. 

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4 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This does not require the redefinition of consequentialism.  They become part of the package as soon as the consequences of the particular normative ethical are as broad and as absolute as "life" itself. 

When the choice, i.e. the chosen consequence, is life, reality itself including man's nature, automatically dictates the "shoulds" and the "have tos" you speak of.

If so, doesn't this make the case that Objectivist ethics is consequentialist?

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

If so, doesn't this make the case that Objectivist ethics is consequentialist?

In the same way we use terms such as "selfish" and "morality" according to rational concept formation... (and which differ from mentally sloppy common usage) so too I believe (all things considered) Objectivist ethics is consequentialist is the broadest, most rational and absolute meaning of the term "consequence".  .. and afterall what is more consequential than life itself?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

If so, doesn't this make the case that Objectivist ethics is consequentialist?

 

I think this debate all turns on one thing. That the "consequences" are indeed, rationally-moral goals. But what does consequentialism show us about what is moral or provide any guide? Nothing. Everyone has been presuming upon 'good consequences' - from the standpoint of Objectivism. Therefore, rational consequences imply consequentialism, which it does not.

Consequentialism:

1. the theory that human actions derive their moral worth solely from their outcomes or consequences.

2. the theory that ethical decisions should be made on the basis of the expected outcome or consequence of the action.

Which is mere pragmatism.

Your goal as an architect is to be successful and wealthy. A potential client arrives, and all he asks is that you change your proposed drawings of a skyscraper to accomodate his love of Gothic churches. You are struggling, so it goes without saying that you do so.  After all, by your doctrine the consequence (success) you seek determines your actions, and as such, is an "ethical decision", with "moral worth". Why should the integrity of the building and the designer matter?

The concept, consequentialism has been around much longer. I think we can't adopt the notion into Objectivism (except to use it idiosyncratically - and so weaken or collapse its premise).

Edited by whYNOT

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28 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Why should the integrity of the building and the designer matter?

Because his integrity requires that he make a living first. It is a choice between two values. Both valuable in their own context.

From a hierarchy of values perspective, his artistic integrity takes a back seat to his survival (assuming that is what is at stake). He cannot sacrifice. This is not a sacrifice. He is choosing that which is worth more.

If you are saying that based on consequentialism, he will choose to kill the client to build his building, that makes consequentialism irrational. But if he was to see the consequences of his actions, he will rationally choose the most valuable route. As it should be. With integrity.

 

 

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Against what, other than the consequences to life, long range, does one judge the morality of action according to Objectivist ethics?  Against what, other than the standard of morality, does one set as the standard for judging the rightness or wrongness of conduct?

The above are perfectly fine accordingly Objectivism, as long as one does not import into the concepts "conduct" or "consequences" invalid or improper meanings.

Believing that consqeuences matter for moral assessment is not enough to make you a consequentialist. Any plausible moral theory is going to hold that consqeuences matter at some level. What distinguishes consequentialism from other moral theories is its claim that consequences are the only thing that matter. This is a much stronger and much less plausible claim. Take some positions of Rand: think that it’s important that people get what they deserve? Think you have some reason to keep your promises simply because you made them (and not because of the good that you expect to produce by keeping them)? Think that it’s better for guilty people to be punished than innocent people (again not just because the consequences are better)? Then you’re not a consequentialist.

Consequential (and deontological) considerations do play into morality some point for various reasons, but they are justified in terms of what constitutes flourishing, and flourishing will manifest because of, and partially in terms of, your character development, which is ultimately the primary focus for Rand's normative ethics.

Rand, however, did hold to the Greek "unity of virtue" theory, just as all the Socratics did. She did not consider prudence to be a virtue, or at least did not comment on it, but this is where Aristotle shines. Consequentialist considerations are in reciprocal determination with the virtue of prudence (which is the virtue of employing phroenesis or practical reasoning), which is in reciprocal determination with the others, such as justice and benevolence and honor, and so forth. That is why a virtue ethicist does not have to worry about importing into "consequences" invalid meanings.

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32 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Take some positions of Rand: think that it’s important that people get what they deserve? Think you have some reason to keep your promises simply because you made them (and not because of the good that you expect to produce by keeping them)? Think that it’s better for guilty people to be punished than innocent people (again not just because the consequences are better)? Then you’re not a consequentialist.

 

When you say "not just because the consequences are better", then what is the alternative? Some other way (to know) is better? or ...

better is not what matters?

How can you "ever" make consequences irrelevant?

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57 minutes ago, 2046 said:

think that it’s important that people get what they deserve?

By "important" do you mean in my self-interest?  i.e. in furtherance of my life, long range?

57 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Think you have some reason to keep your promises simply because you made them (and not because of the good that you expect to produce by keeping them)?

By "reason" do you mean some effect upon my self-esteem and therefore my ability to sustain myself.. i.e. in furtherance of my life, long range?

59 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Think that it’s better for guilty people to be punished than innocent people (again not just because the consequences are better)?

By "better", do you mean it is in my self-interest to act (directly or indirectly, by persuasion, voting, or whatever means) such that in reality guilty people are more likely to be punished than innocent people.. i.e. that such action is in furtherance of my life, long range?

 

Is my life, long range, the consequence to which my morality of self interest is directed, including virtues, principles, and actions... the answer is yes. 

Is the choice to adopt an Objective morality and to live according to it JUST for achieving the self-interested purpose which is my life... of course.  What else is morality for?

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Is the choice to adopt an Objective morality and to live according to it JUST for achieving the self-interested purpose which is my life... of course.  What else is morality for?

I'm not sure what you're arguing. The first post in this thread is a good explanation of why consequentialism doesn't mean just caring about a consequence.

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56 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

 

Is my life, long range, the consequence to which my morality of self interest is directed, including virtues, principles, and actions... the answer is yes. 

Is the choice to adopt an Objective morality and to live according to it JUST for achieving the self-interested purpose which is my life... of course.  What else is morality for?

The original question in the thread is about the structure of moral judgments and the relationship between moral terms, not that there is something outside of your life which morality is for. The point is, as many philosophers from Epicurus onward have pointed out, that this conception of "living according to the objective morality" (i.e. virtuous character) that you'd have adopted will end up being part of what "living your life" is.

In other words the purpose is constiuted by the means adopted.This would then contradict your claim that virtue could be "JUST" for your self-interest, a la Hobbesian egoism. In other words, the means can sometimes be part of the end, rather than simply a strategy for bringing it about. Once you've committed to it, then you're committed to it for its own sake, since it is part of what the end is.

Both consequentialists and virtue theorists can be egoists. A consequentialist would say virtues or rules only have instrumental relationship to bring out about our self-interest, whereas a virtue egoist, such as Rand, would say living virtuously is just part of what your true self-interest is.

 

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Consequentialism makes for an intriguing concept. It illustrates well the different approaches to concept formation.

On one hand, you have the Consequentialist with a few layers of depth (in an ITOE approach) that pragmatically looks primarily at the result. If the desired result is not achieved, sure look at the approach for what might have gone wrong, but not necessarily from a principled standpoint. No time for that. Another approach needs to implemented as soon as possible in order to try again for the stated result.

If you look at the concept in terms of what gives rise to the necessity for consequentialism, the few layers of depth (again, in an ITOE style approach) begins to examine the subsequent abstractions in depth, find still other abstractions the examined abstractions rely upon. On this basis, consequentialism has merit as an objective term, albeit, not an Objectivist term. This is similar to the term Existentialism, a brief contender as a proper noun for Objectivism, albeit dismissed after consideration of the baggage it carried along with it.

Unlike the term selfishness, the common usage of selfishness, properly understood, is an aberration in concept formation. As such, Miss Rand decided it was the proper term, even though the redundancy of "rational" often precedes it in order to draw attention to how Objectivism applies it in accordance with a properly formed concept, rather than how it is often pejoratively used.

In a world where language is embraced primarily as a tool of thought rather than communication, where man is regarded as the "conceptual animal", where the "rational animal" is regarded as one of the earlier stepping stones to grasping "man qua man", consequentialism (or consequentialist) may be regarded as a close synonym for rational egoism (or rational egoist).

Until such time, it can easily serve as a good ice-breaker to explore potential common grounds on a not so common plateau.

Edited by dream_weaver

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On 9/22/2009 at 6:55 AM, aequalsa said:

Would it be fair to characterize Objectivist ethics as consequentialist in the sense that if one wants to live a flourishing life one ought to behave in a self interested way?

The first Post starts with a question. 

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

The first post in this thread is a good explanation of why consequentialism doesn't mean just caring about a consequence.

 

According to other definitions brought up, it seems to

9 hours ago, whYNOT said:

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 the conduct. [Wiki]

Consequentialism is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. [Stanford]

I would be interested in knowing what you define "consequentialism" to be?

At some point, you're brought up that it means that Any Means are Justified which to me renders it irrational so I am assuming you mean something other than what I understood.

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9 hours ago, 2046 said:

This would then contradict your claim that virtue could be "JUST" for your self-interest,

How could it not ultimately be, just for one's self-interest.  What ELSE would it ultimately be for?

 

9 hours ago, 2046 said:

In other words, the means can sometimes be part of the end, rather than simply a strategy for bringing it about. Once you've committed to it, then you're committed to it for its own sake, since it is part of what the end is.

This seems to be an argument claiming that the kind of actions taken have consequences other than the consciously held one... or beyond what a person might know without thinking about it... these are still other consequences which may impact upon the ultimate one.  Have you read my posts above?

The ultimate end is achieved by a string of means and ends, actions and goals, practices, virtues and character.  What makes any of these along they way moral, is that they are consequential to the ultimate end. 

Anything, to the extent to which is not of consequence to life, long range, is outside of ethics, it is amoral.

 

9 hours ago, 2046 said:

Rand, would say living virtuously is just part of what your true self-interest is.

Self-interest according to what standard?

 

Your argument is that there is something other than life long range which is of ultimate importance... please be specific.  Provide an example of something else which "matters" but which does not ultimately derive its own importance from its supporting life long range.   

Moreover, explain how such an ultimate importance external to or divorced from supporting life long range, can enter anywhere into morality without diluting "life as the standard".

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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13 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Because his integrity requires that he make a living first. It is a choice between two values. Both valuable in their own context.

From a hierarchy of values perspective, his artistic integrity takes a back seat to his survival (assuming that is what is at stake). He cannot sacrifice. This is not a sacrifice. He is choosing that which is worth more.

If you are saying that based on consequentialism, he will choose to kill the client to build his building, that makes consequentialism irrational. But if he was to see the consequences of his actions, he will rationally choose the most valuable route. As it should be. With integrity.

 

 

Well, who's to say for him? This is an imaginary "architect", after all. ;) One kind may consider his and his work's integrity to be easily compromised, thereafter to be further compromised, until little remains of his integrity or pride in his productivity. Another, with the highest standards might rather choose work in a rock quarry for the interim. There are, in reality many alternatives for "survival". 

But exactly. Why should a consequentialist rule out murder? (Taking it to ridiculous extremes). If he appropriates wealth this way and he's not found out, he must by definition, consider that a moral act. If and when he's arrested, the moment the police arrive, then he will know the act was unethical.

Edited by whYNOT

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It is important to avoid conflating causality with consequentialism, imo. It is understood that identity/causation are foundational - and, perhaps the similarities with consequentialism can be attractive. There is a process preceding an effect, began by a volitional consciousness, the cause. Rational selfishness requires one's reasoned thinking translated into action, then translating into morally selfish consequences. Barring outside interference or unforseen circumstances and accidents, one expects a rational - good - outcome. But the outcome or product isn't the primary, determining factor of one's morality (qua consequentialism) the thinking and actions which initiated it are. 

To my way of seeing this, Objectivism's causation renders consequentialism - in its best, possible light - obsolete or superfluous. 

Edited by whYNOT

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