Moral Reasoning

Moral Reasoning

 

Consequentialist Moral Reasoning- locates morality in the consequences of an act (in the state of the world that will result from the thing you do). This is the basis for the philosophy known as utilitarianism. (See Jeremy Bentham’s Principles of Morals and Legislationand John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism.)


    
 

For all of you that chose to sacrifice the lives of the "fat man" and the waiting room patient in the 2nd and 4th examples you abided by the principle of consequentialist moral reasoning.  You agree with the philosophy of utilitarianism. 

 

Categorical Moral Reasoning- locates morality in certain duties and rights—regardless of the consequences.  To put it simply, there are certain things that are categorically wrong even if they bring about a good result. 

On the contrary, if you who chose not to sacrifice these two lives, your argument points towards each and every person having certain fundamental duties and rights that take precedence over maximizing utility.  You reject the notion that morality is about calculating consequences.  When we act out of duty—doing something simply because it is right—only then do our actions have moral worth. (See Immanuel Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals).