Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Michael Burke, Gordon Graham and Karen Armstrong

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3 ideas

22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
Negative consequences are very hard (and possibly impossible) to assess [Graham]
     Full Idea: Negative consequences make the extension of the consequences of our actions indefinite, and this means that it is difficult to assess them; it may make it impossible, since there is now no clear sense to the idea of THE consequences of an action at all.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.7)
     A reaction: The general slogan of 'Do your best' covers most objections to the calculation of consequences. It is no excuse for stealing a wallet that 'at least I wasn't committing genocide'. How easy were the alternative actions to do?
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / i. Moral luck
We can't criticise people because of unforeseeable consequences [Graham]
     Full Idea: It is unreasonable to say that people have acted badly because of consequences which were not merely unforeseen but unforeseeable.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.7)
     A reaction: Interesting, and it sounds right. A key question in moral philosophy is how much effort people should make to assess the consequences of their actions. We must surely absolve them of the truly 'unforeseeable' consequence.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / g. Moral responsibility
The chain of consequences may not be the same as the chain of responsibility [Graham]
     Full Idea: From a utilitarian point of view, the error of Archduke Ferdinand's driver (he turned up a cul-de-sac) was the worst in history, ...but the chain of consequences may not be the same as the chain of responsibility.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.7)
     A reaction: Can you cause something, and yet not be responsible for it? The driver was presumably fully conscious, rational and deliberate. He must share the responsibility for catastrophe, just as he shares in the causing of all the consequences.