The Consequences of Ethical Actions

This paper seeks to study in depth the normative ethical theories in relation to consequences of one’s action and conduct and the basis of its results. In other words, this paper seeks to study the rightness or wrongness of person’s conduct. This is based on the behavior rather than on the conduct itself. The study of consequentialism entails the evaluation of moral worth of actions based on its contribution to stability.

The virtue ethics as the force that drives ethical behavior was described by the early Greek philosopher Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC). Knowledge was seen as having the highest bearing. Thus, knowledge was attributed to success and was viewed as an essential good. The 20th century has seen expansion and evolution of these theories. However, in modern consequentialism, the consequences of actions and rules out weigh considerations. There are several factors that one should take into consideration while determining the moral action or decision to make. These factors include: 


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One needs to consider this factor while determining the moral action or decision to make. This simply means the intensity of the outcome from a decision or an action. This is a calculative approach to consequentialism or moral ethics. It calculates the strength of pleasure and pain. It is important to note, that according to this theory, the greater the pleasure, the higher the positive value, and the greater the pain, the higher the negative value. The calculation of the consequences helps identify the course of action to take and weigh the benefits and harms that would result from the course of action committed. This is a good decision, if it is based on positive attributes, since it encourages ethical actions.


This is the period of time that the pain or pleasure will last. It is important to note that any ethical action takes time to prepare access, decide, implement and reflect on it. The duration of the period of pain or pleasure will last in dependence on the principle of ethics. This principle is based on the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. It attributes that an action or decision of self-gratification without considering consequences will maximize the duration of pain. On the other hand, ethical pursuits will help maximize the duration of pleasure and happiness for that matter. This is a positive decision, which encourages ethical pursuit as a way of maximizing pleasure.


Certainty refers to how soon in time the pleasure or pain will occur. According to the Ethics on Humanism by Paul Kurtz, there are two different aspects in the ethical philosophy able to answer the question of certainty. These are deontological positions and Utilitarian ethics. A deontological position simply inculcates the absolute certainty. However, this is only in case if the ethics of the actions are moral. Certainty itself should leave no doubt about the proper and moral course of action. In this case, the result or the pleasure is certain. Alternatively, Utilitarian ethics is different from the deontological position. The difference is in the focus on the consequences. Actions are judged on how they achieve the goal, so, therefore, they are uncertain. Note that the sign of certainty can be drawn from history and from the person with similar experiences of pain and pleasure. This is a good decision, since it encourages moral actions.

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This means how soon pleasure or pain will occur. The propinquity is a question that can be answered by the Hedonistic Calculus. Hedonistic Calculus is a process or a theory that is used to evaluate, calculate and estimate kinds of pleasure and pain. This theory or process lists the advantages, benefits and happiness as phrases and signs of pleasure. Propinquility simply means nearness or remoteness of pain or pleasure. It depends on how long a person must wait for the pleasure to occur. This is not a very good decision, because it is not certain whether the pleasure is going to occur at all.


Pleasure will produce more pleasure at this extent. A question on fecundity can be answered by the Hedonistic Calculus. In this principle, the likelihood that pleasure or pain will lead to other or the same kind of pleasure or pain can be believed to be drawn from the experience of the other people. This can also be drawn from a person’s personal records on their experiences. However, according to Epicureans (Philosophy 302: Ethics the Hedonistic Calculus), many extreme pleasures are not possible to be followed by other pleasure. This is not a good decision or theory, since it does not speak of maximum pleasure, but about the probability of less pleasure after extreme pleasure.


This simply means, that pleasure does not cause pain at the same time. Purity constitutes the fecundity or the probability of the first pain and the contamination of the first pleasure. It means the value of pain: each pain which happens is to be created by the cause of the first pain. The summation of pleasure and pain resulting from certain actions can be measured by the complexity of the pleasures and pains which have resulted from the action. This is not a good decision, since it relies on probability and, therefore, is not certain.

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This is the number of sentient beings affected by the action. This means the entire extent of or the value of pleasure, which can be reached at or attained by summing up the calculations and which is estimated by similar actions. This action is also based on assumption and probability, so it is not certain. Therefore, it is not a good decision.


This paper helps to distinguish virtue ethics on a character rather than on the consequences of the action. Therefore, it is clear that one needs to determine the consequences of one’s ethical actions by weighing their intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity as well as their extent.

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