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Is objectivism consequentialist?

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

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.

Sorry for interjecting... your response was to ET, but this is tantamount to arguing against the Objectivist standard of morality itself.

It claims that bad conduct can support life long range... implying that the standard of morality is wrong.  It amounts to saying really, conduct is to be judged as "good" or "bad" according to something which is not the Objectivist standard of morality.  This is an error.  Actions are bad precisely because they are inimical to life, long range, and any action which is not inimical to life, long range simply is not bad.

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9 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

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.

I can't speak much to the term "consequentialism" in the context of the history of philosophy, but I wonder...

If I said that I planned on pursuing a flourishing life by any means necessary -- and that I will judge (and amend) my efforts by their success in winning me a flourishing life -- what would we make of it? Would this put me in the "consequentialist" camp? Would it be outside the bounds of Objectivism?

It is potentially a danger to reject principled thinking in the face of some accident. If I stop at red lights because I do not want to get into an auto accident, but one day I stop and... BANG, someone hits me from behind, I would not therefore abandon my strategy of stopping at red lights. But this does not change the fact that I adopt and maintain the approach of stopping at red lights in order to avoid such accidents. What an Objectivist means to do by adopting "principles" -- isn't this according to the consequences he expects through the adoption of such principles?

Maybe that's not what's conventionally meant by "consequentialism," but it is what it is.

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

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.

Not quite. The point is that the means of attaining those ends must be understood in terms of one's nature. Not only are virtues instrumental (means to an end), they are the means as dictated by your nature. This would be teleology, where we also look at the nature of an agent. 

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Not quite. The point is that the means of attaining those ends must be understood in terms of one's nature. Not only are virtues instrumental (means to an end), they are the means as dictated by your nature. This would be teleology, where we also look at the nature of an agent. 

If one chooses a consequence that is in conflict with one's nature, it leads to nonexistence. We are free to choose poison.
The ultimate goal of a living entity is existence.
A volitional being using reason will rationally consider consequences "as a guide" to survival.
Isn't existence the desired and proper ultimate consequence that one is after?
(I'm not trying to open up the flourishing vs. survival argument)

"Virtue consists of allegiance to existence". OPAR (p. 250).

Edited by Easy Truth

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Sorry for interjecting... your response was to ET, but this is tantamount to arguing against the Objectivist standard of morality itself.

It claims that bad conduct can support life long range... implying that the standard of morality is wrong.  It amounts to saying really, conduct is to be judged as "good" or "bad" according to something which is not the Objectivist standard of morality.  This is an error.  Actions are bad precisely because they are inimical to life, long range, and any action which is not inimical to life, long range simply is not bad.

I was hypothetically taking the (extreme) consequentialist position. Wasn't that clear? You've made the contrast clear, from an O'ist position. Thanks.

Edited by whYNOT

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[The Pragmatists] declared that philosophy must be practical and that practicality consists of dispensing with all absolute principles and standards—that there is no such thing as objective reality or permanent truth—that truth is that which works, and its validity can be judged only by its consequences—that no facts can be known with certainty in advance, and anything may be tried by rule-of-thumb—that reality is not firm, but fluid and “indeterminate,” that there is no such thing as a distinction between an external world and a consciousness (between the perceived and the perceiver), there is only an undifferentiated package-deal labeled “experience,” and whatever one wishes to be true, is true, whatever one wishes to exist, does exist, provided it works or makes one feel better.

“For the New Intellectual,”

Edited by whYNOT

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If the Pragmatist epistemology is "truth is that which works", is consequentialism the ethics of Pragmatism?

("Human actions derive their moral worth solely from their outcomes and consequences")

On the face of it there is an interesting parallel/intersection. Would a scholar here inform me? I hardly know anything about that philosophy.

Edited by whYNOT

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

On the face of it there is an interesting parallel/intersection. Would a scholar here inform me? I hardly know anything about that philosophy.

1

I am not a scholar but I saw this :

Consequentialism (or Teleological Ethics) is an approach to Ethics that argues that the morality of an action is contingent on the action's outcome or consequence. Thus, a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome or result, and the consequences of an action or rule generally outweigh all other considerations (i.e. the ends justify the means).

It is distinct from the other main types of ethical system: Deontology (which derives the rightness or wrongness of an act from the character of the act itself rather than the outcomes of the action), and Virtue Ethics (which focuses on the character of the agentrather than on either the nature or consequences of the action itself). Consequentialist theories must consider questions like "What sort of consequences count as good consequences?", "Who is the primary beneficiary of moral action?", "How are the consequences judged and who judges them?"

Agent-Neutral Consequentialism ignores the specific value of a state of affairs for the individual, so that their own personal goals do not count any more than anyone else's goals in evaluating what action should be taken. Agent-Focused Consequentialism, on the other hand, focuses on the particular needs of the individual, so that (although they may also be concerned with the general welfare) they are more concerned with the immediate welfare of the individuals' self, friends and family.

The term "consequentialism" was coined by Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 - 2001) in her 1958 essay "Modern Moral Philosophy", as a pejorative description of what she saw as the central error of certain moral theories (she was a Virtue Ethicist). It then came to be adopted by both sides of the argument.

http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_consequentialism.html

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

that practicality consists of dispensing with all absolute principles and standards

If we go by the definition of Consequentialism as: "the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences."

Consequentialism can end up having different meanings, concretized differently. The definition is vague, therefore it can end up turning into contradictory philosophies. There is a continuum. From irrational consequentialist to rational consequentialist.

Some consequentialist philosophies include: Utilitarianism, Hedonism, Epicureanism, Egoism, Asceticism, Altruism, etc.

I think that at the core of Rand's objection to pragmatism is that one could be a consequentialist and believe that contradictions exist in reality.
The irrational versions reject absolute truth, the primacy of existence, self-interest.
It goes without saying that a rational version of any philosophy rejects the existence of contradiction.
A rational/comprehensive version of consequentialism is compatible with Objectivism if life is the ultimate consequence.
If "a consequentialist" considered consequences as part of causality, its absoluteness, I don't see any conflict.
Therefore, I think that one can say that Objectivism is a type of rational consequentialism, which means a type of consequentialism.
 

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32 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

 

A rational/comprehensive version of consequentialism is compatible with Objectivism if life is the ultimate consequence.
If "a consequentialist" considered consequences as part of causality, its absoluteness, I don't see any conflict.
Therefore, I think that one can say that Objectivism is a type of rational consequentialism, which means a type of consequentialism.
 

Well, kinda. But the point Anscombe was making, and which Rand would seem to agree with, is that once you've brought in other considerations that give morality its force and content, such as ultimate ends, human nature, and normative virtues, then you end up being a consequentialist of a pretty unrecognizable sort.

Remember, consequentialism isn't just any old philosophy that takes any consequences into considerations (pretty much every philosophy would be such then.) Both Anscombe and Rand ground their meta-ethics in a healthy Aristotelian soil.

Im not sure how much of the standard literature you are familiar with, but if you understand the difference between instrumental means and constitutive means, that's basically the essential difference between consequentialism and objectivism.

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36 minutes ago, 2046 said:

then you end up being a consequentialist of a pretty unrecognizable sort

Please elaborate, that seems like a contradiction. How can something be a something and yet be an unrecognizable sort of that something?

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9 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Please elaborate, that seems like a contradiction. How can something be a something and yet be an unrecognizable sort of that something?

Indeed, that's because it's not.

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21 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.

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.

1

Then are you arguing that Objectivism is a type of virtue ethics?

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2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Then are you arguing that Objectivism is a type of virtue ethics?

Well let's just think about it. If you are familiar with the "virtue turn" in modern moral philosophy, this would put Rand in company with the likes of Anscombe, Veatch, Foot, MacIntyre, Hursthouse, Nussbaum, and of course the Greek Socratics. Most of these philosophers are explicit Neo-Aristotleans and also heavily influenced by Thomism and ethical naturalism. Heck, some of them even explicitly rely on very biocentric accounts of teleology to ground their meta-ethics. These are all ether direct influences on Rand in the case of Aristotle and Aquinas, or quite clearly very compatible with Rand. 

Whereas consequentialism is paradigmatically either utilitarianism (Bentham, Mill, Friedman, Mises) or hedonism or Hobbesian-style egoism.

In short, the VEs claim morality is a component of human well being, whereas the Cs claim morality is an external means to it. VEs tend to have a "thick" teleological conception of human nature, whereas Cs tend to have a "thin" means/end conception where no ultimate ends apply. C recognizes no basic limit, in principle, on what can be done (without introducing deontological "side-constraints") to bring about good consequences. VEs, as we have seen, sidestep this problem with the "unity of virtue" concept and appeals to human nature.

Where Cs and VEs agree is on disagreeing with deonotology. Both agree that morality is in the form of a "hypothetical imperative" or "if X, then Y" statement. Both disagree with duty based ethics.

Where Rand would seem to disagree with other VEs is that some of them are not egoistic enough (some of them are.) Secondly Rand is unique in tying VE to a libertarian politics, which I think I just the tits.

Most Rand scholars seem to take a similar reading. See for example Hunt, Kelley, Gotthelf, Smith, Rasmussen, Den Uyl, Machan, Touchstone, Mack, Badhwar, Long, Younkins, Hicks, Miller, Wright, Flew, Khawaja. Hell just off the top of my head. Smith's ARNE has a great section of compare and contrast of Rand with modern VE.

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1 hour ago, 2046 said:

Well let's just think about it. If you are familiar with the "virtue turn" in modern moral philosophy, this would put Rand in company with the likes of Anscombe, Veatch, Foot, MacIntyre, Hursthouse, Nussbaum, and of course the Greek Socratics.

1

I will take that as a Yes (that Objectivist Ethics is a Type of Virtue Ethics).

Thank you for the thoroughness. The rest of what you said will take a lot of study for me. I am not familiar with a lot of it and I don't know if I will ever be.

The definitions have pushed me into my conclusions.

"The field of ethics itself, including all moral virtues and values, is necessitated by the law of causality. Morality is no more than a means to an end; it defines’ the causes we must enact if we are to attain a certain effect." OPAR, p 244

There is a possibility of conflating "That which causes life, due to causality is Moral" vs. "That which causes life, due to causality or accident (in hindsight) is Moral". Both can be seen as the consequence. The definition of consequentialism does not specify which one. An accident which has a consequence of enhancing life is not automatically moral.

 

 

Edited by Easy Truth

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9 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

There is a possibility of conflating "That which causes life, due to causality is Moral" vs. "That which causes life, due to causality or accident (in hindsight) is Moral". Both can be seen as the consequence. The definition of consequentialism does not specify which one. An accident which has a consequence of enhancing life is not automatically moral.

I had tried to anticipate this sort of thing here:

23 hours ago, DonAthos said:

It is potentially a danger to reject principled thinking in the face of some accident. If I stop at red lights because I do not want to get into an auto accident, but one day I stop and... BANG, someone hits me from behind, I would not therefore abandon my strategy of stopping at red lights. But this does not change the fact that I adopt and maintain the approach of stopping at red lights in order to avoid such accidents.

If one takes "selfish" to include those acts which destroy others (i.e. via the initiation of the use of force), then neither is selfishness necessarily moral.

But if one is rational in his selfishness, I would argue that he is moral; and, too, a moral man would make a rational appeal to consequences. An Objectivist would reject the supposed morality (or the morality of the actions) of a man who wound up justly and characteristically impoverished, downtrodden, etc., etc., yet accidentally stumbled over some sort of buried treasure, say. But why? Have we sundered morality from consequence? Not at all.

In the first place, we recognize that one may not be assured of stumbling over such treasures; that acting in the ways that characteristically lead to impoverishment are, more often than not, going to result in impoverishment, not wealth. And that this will probably be true over a long enough span of time as well (if the lucky man who stumbled over the treasure above does not amend his ways, it is likely he will return to his poverty and poor fortune soon enough).

And then there is the fact that "life" in the sense of "that which causes life" or "consequence of enhancing life" is rather broad. It is not wealth alone, it is not longevity alone, and so forth. The full flourishing that we seek is unlikely to be found accidentally; and the man who has death as his just due but is kept alive through accident (as in tripping over buried treasure) will probably yet be suffering in many aspects of his life, and perhaps also through psychological awareness of his precarious state.

Yet in all of this, supposed "virtues" are not accounted virtue for their own sake; they are virtuous due to the consequences that the Objectivist expects in adopting them as principled approaches to living -- with the ultimate consequence being the Objectivist's experience of his own life, or happiness.

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9 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

"The field of ethics itself, including all moral virtues and values, is necessitated by the law of causality. Morality is no more than a means to an end; it defines’ the causes we must enact if we are to attain a certain effect." OPAR, p 244

Thanks for that ET.  I feel like cracking that book open again... such a good read OPAR is.  A campfire, whisky and OPAR might be in my immediate future...

 

I think it is clear that the standard accepted conception of "Consequentialism" is thin, malnourished, faulty, and non-objective, much in the same way ... well... SO many other concepts in the mainstream were/are thin, malnourished, faulty, non-objective, including the understanding of morality itself.

Throwing out the broad definitions of "Conceptualism" (see above), and restricting the term to the actual standard schools of thought in philosophy present and past, as they define it, clearly Objectivism is not a species of that intellectually impoverished class of theories called "Consequentialism".

That said, I re-emphasize my acceptance of the quote from OPAR above.

 

10 hours ago, 2046 said:

Where Rand would seem to disagree with other VEs is that some of them are not egoistic enough (some of them are.) Secondly Rand is unique in tying VE to a libertarian politics, which I think I just the tits.

2046

Do you think Rand would also disagree with other VEs on the basis that they claim Morality IS "more than a means to an end", or that they claim some virtues and values are not "necessitated" by the law of causality, and instead constitutes the "Good" in and of themselves? Do you think she would disagree on the basis that some VEs set up some aspect (any aspect) of personal character as an "intrinsic" good, i.e. Good in itself? 

Given the non-objectivity, and loss of (or lack of) constant diligent focus on the ends (life in reality), how far apart are standard VEs collectively (in your view) from Objectivist ethics? 

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19 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I am not a scholar but I saw this :

Consequentialism (or Teleological Ethics) is an approach to Ethics that argues that the morality of an action is contingent on the action's outcome or consequence. Thus, a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome or result, and the consequences of an action or rule generally outweigh all other considerations (i.e. the ends justify the means).

It is distinct from the other main types of ethical system: Deontology (which derives the rightness or wrongness of an act from the character of the act itself rather than the outcomes of the action), and Virtue Ethics (which focuses on the character of the agentrather than on either the nature or consequences of the action itself). Consequentialist theories must consider questions like "What sort of consequences count as good consequences?", "Who is the primary beneficiary of moral action?", "How are the consequences judged and who judges them?"

Agent-Neutral Consequentialism ignores the specific value of a state of affairs for the individual, so that their own personal goals do not count any more than anyone else's goals in evaluating what action should be taken. Agent-Focused Consequentialism, on the other hand, focuses on the particular needs of the individual, so that (although they may also be concerned with the general welfare) they are more concerned with the immediate welfare of the individuals' self, friends and family.

The term "consequentialism" was coined by Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 - 2001) in her 1958 essay "Modern Moral Philosophy", as a pejorative description of what she saw as the central error of certain moral theories (she was a Virtue Ethicist). It then came to be adopted by both sides of the argument.

http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_consequentialism.html

Thank you. Still seems to me that any and all systems of ethics have the 'value' of some, or someone, or some ~entity~ in mind. Deontological, altruist, egoist, egotist, virtue ethics, religious. (Have I left any out?) The queries: "What sort of consequences count as good consequences?" - and- "Who is the primary beneficiary?" - and - "How are the consequences judged and who judges them?" ... are all implicit and explicit to any ethics. There is always a cause leading to an effect, and always the 'value' of that effect perceived to and for 'someone'. Objectivism simply recognizes you, the cause, ARE the effect - without breach. When it comes to assessing others' morality, all one has to go by is "the consequence" and concrete outcome or 'product' of their thoughts and virtue, - or lack of - and I think the one area consequentialism may not be superfluous.

Virtues are values. Can anyone respond to that? (While everyone understands the proper relationship between value and virtue, virtues, the tools and means to one's values, are in themselves invaluable).

 

Edited by whYNOT

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

I had tried to anticipate this sort of thing here:

If one takes "selfish" to include those acts which destroy others (i.e. via the initiation of the use of force), then neither is selfishness necessarily moral.

But if one is rational in his selfishness, I would argue that he is moral; and, too, a moral man would make a rational appeal to consequences. An Objectivist would reject the supposed morality (or the morality of the actions) of a man who wound up justly and characteristically impoverished, downtrodden, etc., etc., yet accidentally stumbled over some sort of buried treasure, say. But why? Have we sundered morality from consequence? Not at all.

In the first place, we recognize that one may not be assured of stumbling over such treasures; that acting in the ways that characteristically lead to impoverishment are, more often than not, going to result in impoverishment, not wealth. And that this will probably be true over a long enough span of time as well (if the lucky man who stumbled over the treasure above does not amend his ways, it is likely he will return to his poverty and poor fortune soon enough).

And then there is the fact that "life" in the sense of "that which causes life" or "consequence of enhancing life" is rather broad. It is not wealth alone, it is not longevity alone, and so forth. The full flourishing that we seek is unlikely to be found accidentally; and the man who has death as his just due but is kept alive through accident (as in tripping over buried treasure) will probably yet be suffering in many aspects of his life, and perhaps also through psychological awareness of his precarious state.

Yet in all of this, supposed "virtues" are not accounted virtue for their own sake; they are virtuous due to the consequences that the Objectivist expects in adopting them as principled approaches to living -- with the ultimate consequence being the Objectivist's experience of his own life, or happiness.

DA:

I'm not certain why, but this discussion of your has lead me see a sort of asymmetry... there are different kinds of consequences being considered. 

 

As Objectivists we hold that acting morally (toward the correct end according to the proper standard) as a finite, fallible, non-omniscient man, is based on anticipated consequences of those actions.

If a consequentialist only looks ex post facto at actual consequences (including some unforeseeable by a finite, fallible, non-omniscient man) that is a completely different thing.

 

As Objectivists we know that moral action is moral when a decision has been made to act, it is also moral at the time the action is taken, i.e. morality is not solely an exercise post mortem... it is entirely based on anticipated consequences.

It would appear that a Consequentialist, IF bound to the law that only actual outcomes determine morality of action, can never actually BE moral when making a decision to act, nor while acting, because the outcomes of the action are not yet known.  In other words Consequentialists cannot act morally, only their actions can be judged as moral or not, and only after the actual consequences are known.  Of course this seems incredibly silly, but it would seem to be the case. 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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12 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Virtues are values. Can anyone respond to that? (While everyone understands the proper relationship between value and virtue, virtues, the tools and means to one's values, are in themselves invaluable).

Absolutely.  They are not the ultimate value... but they are necessary for working towards the ultimate value with any kind of effectiveness.

(a man can live and get some impoverished value from a famished life without virtues... so they are not necessary in the sense that immediate death would obtain in their absence.. but much sorrow and pain would result from their absence)

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

As Objectivists we hold that acting morally (toward the correct end according to the proper standard) as a finite, fallible, non-omniscient man, is based on anticipated consequences of those actions.

Yes.

2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If a consequentialist only looks ex post facto at actual consequences (including some unforeseeable by a finite, fallible, non-omniscient man) that is a completely different thing.

If the morality of actions were only assessed ex post facto, then morality would not serve us as a guide to action in the present. Choices must be made and they must be made in context. That context includes an individual's knowledge of consequences -- which, yes, may be incomplete or faulty. Yet he must choose regardless. The kind of morality that is available to men (that is to say, the only kind of "morality" that is possible, or worth taking seriously) is based upon anticipated consequences, even when a given individual turns out to have been mistaken.

It is a mistake to morally judge a person (importantly including the self) for consequences that were not available to that person, in reason, in the context in which the choice was made or action committed.

Yet there is also an important connection between anticipated and actual consequences; when these diverge, actual consequences are the very things which might (or must) lead us to "check our premises." We only arrive at "anticipated consequences," in reason, through the ongoing examination of actual consequences.

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Virtues are values. Can anyone respond to that? (While everyone understands the proper relationship between value and virtue, virtues, the tools and means to one's values, are in themselves invaluable).

I would say that virtues are values but not an end in themselves. 

When I was researching what 2046 was saying regarding instrumental vs. constituent means, (if I understood it properly), what you are saying would be that virtues constitute what values are. I could easily be wrong on this one. That virtues do not necessarily cause values (not instrumental), they in a sense are values.

The problem is that virtues can be both. I value the virtue of rationality. I FEEL safer when I have a rational explanation for something strange. I want it. I prefer it. But it will cause a better easier life. If it caused a worse life, the virtue of rationality would be thrown away. Therefore the key to its "valuable-ness" is its instrumentality, its ability to cause, not what it is on its own.

 

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Yes.

If the morality of actions were only assessed ex post facto, then morality would not serve us as a guide to action in the present. Choices must be made and they must be made in context. That context includes an individual's knowledge of consequences -- which, yes, may be incomplete or faulty. Yet he must choose regardless. The kind of morality that is available to men (that is to say, the only kind of "morality" that is possible, or worth taking seriously) is based upon anticipated consequences, even when a given individual turns out to have been mistaken.

It is a mistake to morally judge a person (importantly including the self) for consequences that were not available to that person, in reason, in the context in which the choice was made or action committed.

Yet there is also an important connection between anticipated and actual consequences; when these diverge, actual consequences are the very things which might (or must) lead us to "check our premises." We only arrive at "anticipated consequences," in reason, through the ongoing examination of actual consequences.

I agree completely. 

My point was that someone saying "only consequences matter" could mean very different things depending upon who says it... I see that it is not much of a point since this is abundantly clear from the entire thread above.

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