The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Consequentialism is superior to deontological ethics in determining morality.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/22/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 314 times Debate No: 88608
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




1st round is just acceptance.
2nd round is a constructive case.
3rd round will be our only rebuttal.
4th round will be final statements and voters. No new ideas allowed since there will be no time to respond.

Also, consequentialism is defined as looking to the ends of an action to determine its moral worth and deontology is defined as looking at the intent of the action.

This is just a fun debate so have fun with it. (:


I will accept the challenge, and argue that consequentialism is not superior to deontological ethics in the determination of moral worth, but rather is equal to deontology, and not solely in regard to divining the 'goodness' or 'badness' of actions, but also in meaning/definition, according to the instigator's opening definitions!!!
Debate Round No. 1


Okay, we can look to definitions in this debate as well as what actually come of it.

For that reason, here are my official definitions:

Deontological ethics: In deontological ethics an action is considered morally good because of some characteristic of the action itself, not because the product of the action is good or bad. Deontological ethics holds that at least some acts are morally obligatory regardless of their consequences for human welfare. (Britannica)

The most important part of this definition is that deontologically, something is mandatory based on the goodness of the action. For example you must not lie because lying is immoral.

Consequentialism: Consequentialism, In ethics, the doctrine that actions should be judged right or wrong on the basis of their consequences. (Britannica)

Consequentialism is superior to deontological ethics for 3 reasons. Consequentialism offers the correct moral decisions more often, consequentialism actually does encumber deontological ideas, and an action has no worth without an actual consequence.

Consequentialism is more moral. Consequentialism looks to a desired outcome to judge what is moral. Consequentialism allows for the correct action because when there is a moral outcome anything can be done to reach it. This is true because if the outcome is moral than you aren't really harming anyone. Here's an example.
~ Suppose there is a killer at your door who asks you where you children are so that he can kill them. In this case consequentially the moral option is to lie so they aren't harmed. However when looking to deontology you would be unable to lie because the lying in and of itself is immoral which blocks you from the moral end.

On top of that, Consequentialism just goes beyond deontology, but doesn't disregard it all the time. Usually there will be bad consequences for "Immoral actions" such as lying. However, consequentialism just allows us as people to adjust moral laws to certain circumstances when necessary. For example, looking to the consequences will always be moral where abiding by preset moral laws could lead to death such as the above example.

Finally, the only reason we have the concept of morality is because of consequences. The only reason that one would say killing is immoral is because ON BALANCE it has harmful affects. This is because we have experienced the consequences. Because of this it only make sense to look toward consequentialism. If killing had no consequence we would't care if its moral or not so its really the consequences that justify something or not.

For these reasons, consequentialism is actually superior and not equal to deontology when trying to make a moral decision.


I accept your new definitions of the terms but still fail how you have presented/demonstrated the superiority of consequentialism because:

1. Point one states that 'it offers the CORRECT moral decision MORE OFTEN. please define 'correct', and prove 'more often'. These terms are unsubstantiated.

Point one also states that, 'an ACTION HAS NO WORTH W/O AN ACTUAL CONSEQUENCE....but an action cannot exist without consequence. Circumstances and consequences are what substantiate that an action existed, and the impetus for the action. The whole meaning behind actions is to effect a change/result. Actions can only be substantiated via chronology, i.e., what came before or after (the act or action) or what changed/happened. so there is no such thing as your definition of an action without actual consequence.

Furthermore, how could one ever judge an act as good or bad (moral or otherwise, without considering some result or consequence). The definition for deontological ethics attempts to splice actions and their meaning from reality which is tantamount to attempting extricate experience from life.
In your example "You MUST NOT LIE because it is IMMORAL", before our eyes reach the world 'because', each of us has already started to envision (performing it or refraining from the action) in the context of real-world situation, and deem it either useful or useless, depending on our motives. So again there is no action without consequence (or perceived consequence)

Point 2. You state "Consequentialism is MORE MORAL!!! What is this reliant upon???
Consequentialism and deontological ethics both look to a desired outcome. What are morals? They are the rules of engagement (those to live by) in order to get a achieve a desired outcome.
Your example (the killer scenario) demonstrates a point regarding the unconditional, black-white view of right and wrong, but how can you say which is worse, lying or not protecting your children???
(aside)Your assumption is clearly that telling the truth in this situation is less important than protecting ones children, but I would have to argue that there are so many other ways to deal with this situation, and that lying probably wouldn't go very far in the way of solving the This example does not elucidate the dichotomy, it only conveys your subjective morality

Point 3. Your point centers again on this idea of a 'worse evil', and although I sympathize, I believe it is still subject to individual perspective.
This is the classic 'do the ends justify the means' argument. Is it right to kill 50 people, to save your only son? Yes, we have a duty to protect our children, but to what point? This is all subjective,

In your closing, you state that morality derived from consequences, here I wholly agree. it however, is contradictory to your definition of deontology, because as you state, it is the view that an action, can be in-and-of-itself 'good or bad' regardless of the 'product' or consequences, but in closing you say morality exists solely because of our if we must look at consequences to create morals, how then can we judge those morals good or bad, without considering the very consequences that led us to the moral in the first place.???

I think the two concepts are a false dichotomy, because must you have distort the meaning of action, and the derivation of morals in order for one (deontology) to stand in opposition to the other (consequentialism).

Thank you for reviewing this...
Debate Round No. 2


Before I go through each of my opponents attacks I would like to point out that they have no points of their own as to why deontological ethics is better or even equal to Consequentialism. All of the points are just attacks so I don't really have much to attack. My opponent will have to clearly give points as to why they are equal. If my opponent believes they only must attack my points than that doesn't really give equal ground because they have nothing to defend.

Anyway, enough of all that.

Lets jump into my opponents 1st attack. I think this was misunderstood as they asked for clarification on correct and more often. 1st of all, correct could mean what was good in retrospect or for more even ground, what's good for society.. The contention is saying that consequentialism will always be moral because it is always looking towards a moral end and that moral ends never really harm anyone. If we look to means like in deontology than we may be moral in not lying but end up giving a villain access to murdering everyone in the world. If we look to a desired end such as keeping people in the world alive than that lying is justified and this is the correct answer.

Also, my opponent seems taken aback by my point that consequences are why we even care about deontology. To clarify this is basically saying that consequentialism can fit to any scenario where deontology can only make sweeping generalizations. For example most would say we ought not kill. This is deontology, and while often correct, may not apply to every single circumstance.

My opponent then argues that consequentialism is subjective. Then again, morality tends to be that way in general which is why we are having this debate right now. My opponent asks "how do we know whether lying or saving the children would be worse." This is a great example of why consequentialism is better because deontologically there is no moral action. Lying would be bad, but allowing for death would also be bad. In this circumstance consequentialism may be the only means for man to decide at all!

My opponent brings up the moral dilemma is it correct to kill 50 people to save your son." Deontologically you could not kill anyone to save your son. Consequentially you must outweigh the ends. Assuming they are criminals, as most murders can be classified as (lol), yes you would be justified because of the ideas of justice. Assuming they are innocent a consequentialist may argue that inaction would be a better consequence. The point is it allows for man to apply morality to the situation.

Ultimately in this debate you are looking at voting con for a system of morality that works sometimes versus a way of applying morality to any situation. For these reasons consequentialism is superior.

Look to every moral dilemma brought up, consequentialism answers these issues in a moral way every time where deontology only does sometimes.


So firstly,

I did not intend for my counter argument to be viewed as attacks. I thought it was a gesture of respect to attend closely to another's argument. As I for my failure to defend (or submit something to defend), I am arguing against your claim. My primary goal is not to defend, but rather to refute the assertions you put forward. Defending's your bit , well, for this round anyway :-)
I also must disagree with your claiming that I have not put forward any points of my own. I have aimed to demonstrate that the two terms/concepts are equal in worth (which is little):
1. because moral judgments are derived from real-world consequences as you have already said (and I agreed).
2. Because both terms distort/skew the way we actually understand and execute and evaluate purposeful action
& 3: because even if i saw them as valid means of judging morality, they both have huge vulnerabilities.

I will try to illustrate thes points as best I can:

Moral judgments, as you said, and I agreed are the result of consequences, so correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't the actual process be, intent/desired outcome -> action -> consequence/outcome?
We might even arrive at an action because the consequences/outcomes fulfill our intent/desired outcome
Which would be, intent/desired outcome -> consequences <-appropriate action.
Either way, our minds have a tacit understanding of the fluid link between these three terms, and we apprehend them in conjunction, not one at a time, or one without the other

This brings me to point 2. They cannot be spliced because it voids the meaning of the associated terms; i.e., they are interdependent. You cannot have an intent without perceiving the consequences of an intent. Actions are defined as the creation of a consequence... Just because one precedes/follows the other doesn't mean they can stand alone. Have you noticed that actions are often defined by the consequences they create i.e., to lie means to deceive, and the consequence of a lie is deception. To kill means to caused the death of someone/something, and the consequence of kill is death!
But consequentialism proports to ignore the action, and instead look to the result it causes...but if we are talking about morals...we must be talking exclusively about purposeful action, as there is no virtue in doing something you did not intend, and you can't have a consequence without adjoining the intended action...
Deontological ethics claims to only see the action in and of itself... But we cannot apprehend actions as discrete from consequences or intentions. In purposeful actions, the term meanings are inherent in (inextricably bound to) the others.

Now to point 3. Consequentialism states that if the consequence is good then the action is good. But what if the intent was good and resulted in an unforeseen consequences... Is the action now bad... So using your example, if the children had not been saved would the parent's lie (action) then be deemed wrong? It just doesn't make sense. Also you must be aware that statements such as YOUR WORDS "...when there is a moral outcome, anything can be done to reach it", is an advocation for fanatics and fundamentalists. This is a huge vulnerability on the part of consequentialism! You make deontological ethics out to be short sighted but, this is extremism at its core.

Deontological ethics is equally frail, because it sees actions/act only, which is not only improbable but skews the contructive prossess of morality, as mentioned above.

This is why I keep reiterating that they're hardly distinguishable as they are equally flawed and unrealistic

I hope i have represented your views accurately, if not, I can only apologize, as this is what I understood by your terms...but at any rate, I hope I have at least made my point you won't feel that I'm just attacking...

Thanks for reviewing...
Debate Round No. 3


pianodude2468 forfeited this round.


A forfeited closing round...anticlimactic :-(
i suppose this argument really only had three rounds...

Thanks to all who review and vote!!!!
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Aguilajoyce 6 months ago
Thanks so much for the comments, Hayd!! It kind of cut off towards my bit... :-( but I get the gist...
Posted by Aguilajoyce 6 months ago
Thanks so much for the comments, Hayd!! It kind of cut off towards my bit... :-( but I got the gist...
Posted by Hayd 6 months ago
I started writing up an RFD before I realized voting period was over. You can look at it if you want, it still has a lot of feedback.
Posted by Aguilajoyce 6 months ago
Thanks for the explanation... I'd like to mention that my attempt (which probably failed if I have to state it here) was to dismiss them both as equally defective as means of judging morality I.e., that neither was superior. I have the tendency to jump right into refutations without clarifying my objectives in arguments, but I am learning to pace myself (lol) love this site... Thanks again for the vote!!!!
Posted by TUF 6 months ago
RFD from the Voters Union Efforts (Sorry it is late)

So Con I feel like better applied logical principles in this debate and stayed away from fallacious or mis-conveying arguments. Pro was a bit one dimensional, and not arguing from a point I could get behind past the second round. To be clear, Con yielded that following deontological ethics may have consequence, but isn't at the same time saying that there isn't a way to handle the situation mentioned is Pro's example about the killer at your door.

My only problem with's Con argument, is that it didn't have any direct impact to prove why deontological ethics are superior, or at least they weren't obvious to me. This would be a bigger point to me, because he seemed to be on the defensive throughout the debate rather than show inherent advantages to having an outlook for deontology, however at the same time Pro was very limited in his scope of understanding it seemed. The argument that moral themselves suggest consequence wasn't very strong at all, nor was his argument using hypotheticals very strong. Con wasn't the most convincing, but he did argue better, and so I will award him the most convincing arguments points. Good debate guys, good luck in the future.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TUF 6 months ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments