Moral Consequences and Choices

Essay by MelengkeCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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The first question that arises from this statement is what is a good moral choice. How can we determine what good is, when there are many differing opinions? Is an action good if the nature or the intentions of the action are considered good? Or is it the consequences of the action that determine the goodness of the action? Is it a combination of both the intentions and the consequences of the action, or the actions´ effect on society?

The New Collins Concise Dictionary lists over thirty different usages´s of the word good. The definitions range from "morally excellent or admirable; virtuous; righteous" to "valid or genuine" and "satisfying or gratifying."

The Greek philosopher Aristotle defined good as something that fulfils its purpose e.g. a good tool is one which performs its function, regardless of the possible hazard, which it may present if that function is abused.

The Roman Catholic tradition takes a very different view; the deontological view.

Other denominations and religions, including atheists can also take this view. There are two types of deontology. The Roman Catholic tradition relies heavily on the idea of the nature of the action e.g. the main purpose of sexual intercourse is the production of children. Therefore, sexual intercourse is good as long as it produces children. Anything which prevents sexual intercourse from producing children must be bad; such as contraception and homosexuality.

The second deontological view is Rule Deontology. This view considers an action to be good if a set of rules is followed. For Christians this would be the Ten Commandments and the Commandments of Jesus. However, an atheist could still be a deontologist by following the general rules of society e.g. do not steal.

A teleologist would consider an action to be good as long as the consequences of...