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

There is no possibility of a human action without moral consequences

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/20/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,205 times Debate No: 35809
Debate Rounds (4)
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The principle of utility is that good and evil are utilities of pleasure and pain. It seeks the most pleasure and the least pain that result from a specific action. Every action has some consequence and it varies in scale, however there is always someone who receives pleasure and pain by an action.
I argue that every human action has consequences by stating the following:
1. Morals are conceived by human actions where pleasure outweighs pain.
2. Pain and pleasure governs us in everything we do and say.
3. Actions either produce happiness or pleasure.
4. Actions are wrong if they produce the reverse of happiness.
5. Human actions consider the following when it comes to achieving pleasure: the intensity, how long it will last, how certain that the pleasure will occur, how soon the pleasure will occur, whether it will lead to further pleasures, whether it cross with any pain, and how many this action will affect.
6. No action is intrinsically good or bad, that is why we look at the consequences of that action to examine if the action was good or bad.
7. Human action is created on causes (desires) and effects (actions), and from that action there is a result, pain or pleasure.
8. Therefore, human actions have moral consequences.


Human actions are generally evaluated based on its consequences. Actions are judged as per its consequences but it is not necessary that the consequences have to be moral. In this debate, I"m trying to argue, "There is a possibility that a human action can be without moral consequences." According to Utilitarianism, actions are performed based on its result, mainly aiming at pleasure and pain, and those actions which can result into happiness of maximum is considered to be right or say morally right. However, I disagree with that because:
(1.)It is not necessary that moral consequences produced could justify the action to be moral.
(2.)There are many instances where people seek pleasure through painful actions.
(3.)In such instances, the consequences might be aiming at pleasure but the act itself cannot be justified as moral.
(4.)Sometimes, people just overshadow the unjust actions because the consequence brought happiness to many.
(5.)Thus, it is the actions which are supposedly moral or immoral and consequences will follow.
(6.)If we look our daily schedule there are many instances where we assume that consequences would be moral but there is an equal chance that it might not be the case.
(7.)Bentham provided Hedonistic Clause which provides the understanding how we should choose are actions, because it is not necessary that every action will produce a moral consequences.
(8.)By the principle of sympathy and antipathy, actions are approved or disapproved not always tending to happiness or pain but because we consider it to be right or wrong.
(9.)Sometimes actions are performed out of obligations, you don"t judge them based on consequences but on what is it, and how it appears to be. (Immanuel Kant's theory- The consequences of our actions are morally irrelevant.)
(10.) Therefore, there is a possibility that actions performed can be without thinking of moral consequences as the consequences are not under our control.

Just for clarification- moral consequences are the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.
Debate Round No. 1


There is a preservative permanency between the individual quest of personal benefits and the maximum happiness of the greatest number. Happiness is an amount of pleasures of any kind.

You stated that "Sometimes actions are performed out of obligations, you don"t judge them based on consequences but on what is it, and how it appears to be". What action might that be?
This statement does not show that there will be no consequence. Whatever a person chooses to do will have an effect on someone else. Whether it is on a minor scale or higher, it does not matter because at the end someone will be affected and will receive pleasure or pain.

Whether you act on a certain situation or choose not to do anything, there is always a consequence. For instance, when you choose to ignore a person in need of help or not, that action will either way have an effect.


Thank you pro for your argument.
When I say that-" Sometimes actions are performed out of obligations, you don"t judge them based on consequences but on what is it, and how it appears to be ", does not mean that there won"t be any consequences but I"m here to argue whether consequences will be moral or not. Instead, I believe it is the actions which have to be decided to be moral or not because again we cannot always control consequences of an action.
Let take an example of "stealing". Let us suppose a hypothetical situation where a thief steals money from a rich man. He claims that he is stealing so as to donate that amount of money to an orphanage. As a consequentialist, you might say, "it is OK" because it leads to happiness for many. Nevertheless, I won"t agree with that as Stealing itself is wrong no matter what the consequences are going to happen, no matter how many people are going to be benefited from that act, it is still wrong.
Let"s take another example of "killing"- again let us assume a situation where an official is put in a situation where he is asked to shoot president of his country, otherwise the enemy will kill thousands of people in his hostage. As a consequentialist, I guess you might say kill the president as it will save many citizens, as this act will lead to happiness for many. Nevertheless, I won"t agree because for me killing is wrong, no matter what "wrong is wrong". Here again you will say if "that official" don"t kill then many are going to suffer which result into consequences which are lot of suffering, but then you forgot that consequences are not in your hands it is the actions which are in your hands, because what if that enemy changes his plan and kill thousands too. In that case, both your action and consequences became immoral.
Form both these example I"m trying to prove a point that human actions are the one which are supposedly considered to be moral or not rather its consequences which can only be assumed.

You are right that ""action will either way have an effect", because every action has a reaction but that reaction does not necessarily lead to something moral effects.
Let us take example of beliefs" an Atheist do not believe in God, thus does not perform any religious activity. What moral consequences might he be experiencing or say people around him be experiencing by not performing any religious activity? Alternatively, say a priest who is performing all religious activity, what kind of moral consequences would he be experiencing? Unless you have religious beliefs of heaven and hell or say good and evil ( which again is questionable), these actions wouldn't matter. You"ll be doing it regardless of its consequences being moral.
Now, to decide whether human actions always lead to moral consequences or not, I will say that consequences are mere assumptions and have extrinsic value which can differ from person to person. Morality does not exist as something inherent to objective reality; therefore, no action is necessarily preferable to any other. According to Kant, the only thing of intrinsic value in morality is revenue for duty. I am assuming you must have heard about Queen"s guard standing like living statue at Birmingham palace. He stands at one position all day without moving like a decorative piece. His action of standing there does not result into any moral consequences as he does nothing but just stand, his feet might hurt, or say he might need to relax but he doesn't do it out of obligation regardless of consequences he performs his duty.
Thus, there are actions which are performed regardless of consequences be moral or not.
Debate Round No. 2


You are assuming that "stealing" is morally wrong in some society. But what if every person can take other people"s belongings and all of them share their things in that society. Again, every action contributes to the society and that is through their actions which eventually lead to moral consequences. Because if they are not happy, and not thinking for the better of the people, then what kind of society would that be. In addition, stealing (if it"s morally wrong) is still an act that leads to moral consequences. You said that murdering a president or dictator would be morally wrong, so you are agreeing with me that this action does have moral consequences. If an individual decides to murder someone, the killing will produce a moral consequence against that society"s moral code which prohibits killing of another human being.

We are not arguing whether an action is morally wrong or right but whether there is a moral consequence to every action. Notice that every society has different set rules on what morals are, there is not one set of rules of morals that is universal, except maybe murder. All the examples you provided all lead to moral consequences.

A moral consequence does not have to be a direct conduct, it could be indirect as well.
For instance, on September 11th, 2001 the World Trade Center Towers collapsed after a terrorist attack. The terrorists were identified as Muslims. The indirect moral result of this action presented itself when after the attack some Americans were being prejudiced toward Muslim people, assuming they were all responsible for the horrid tragedy. Muslims were called names, threatened, beaten; yet they were not responsible for the World Trade Center attack.

Another example is when a female was raped and her perpetrator was caught but never convicted because of lack of evidence and the result of that was that the female"s husband was seeking revenge and eventually murdered the rapist. These two examples are examples of indirect moral consequences.


"Notice that every society has different set rules on what morals are, there is not one set of rules of morals that is universal, except maybe murder"
From your part of argument, I totally agree that there is no single right answer by which action can be called moral, as it will be different among different societies. Taking from there, I would say that is exactly what I"m trying to say that there is a moral ambiguity as there can be many consequences to an action; if that is the case then every action will not necessary lead to moral consequences as the consequences might be moral for one society but not for other or may be some society might not even regard it. Therefore, not every action would have moral consequence, depending upon societies" interest.
Indeed every action will have direct or indirect consequences on the moral agent, however again it depends on the society"s moral law or person"s belief. As in the case of second example, where the husband himself takes law in his hand, which is not a right thing to do in our society, he performed that action without thinking of the outcome. It is equally possible that no one will find out if he murdered the rapist. Most of the time, man do not think for the consequences and do it out of duty or passion. Then, what follows is matter of assumption. It could be moral, not moral or nothing.
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you for your reply.
If you look at all the moral codes, all of them eventually will lead to moral consequences from actions.

When you stated "It is equally possible that no one will find out if he murdered the rapist", does it matter if someone will find out? No it does not, it is still a moral consequence, revenge.

The misunderstanding that you posted about the principle of utility, saying that there are some actions which the principle of utility would say is right because we would do whatever necessary to maximize the pleasure. The principle of utility says that we should do whatever necessary to maximize utility (good morals are conceived by human actions where pleasure outweighs pain). However, in an effort to reason in a utilitarian matter tends to have terrible consequences, and fails to make the most of utility. That is why we should not reason in a utilitarian matter, but instead we should instill those tempers and approaches, and stand for the utilitarian principles, that would tend to service utility. The seven circumstances are just guides.

Now, as I stated before: every action will have a moral consequence. Whether it will be direct or indirect, on a smaller scale or larger, it does not matter because the end result is a moral consequence.


“..., does it matter if someone will find out? No it does not, it is still a moral consequence, revenge.”

Well, Revenge is an action where person is trying to find pleasure through pain. If you justify this act then you are equally justifying all other horrendous acts like rape, murder, sexual abuse, lying, cheating because all these acts provide pleasure to people by giving pain. Do you think it will produce right moral consequences?

Due to above reasons, principle of utility is having a drawback (as you also agree, it can produce terrible consequences, though seems to be moral from individual’s point of view).

To sum up, I will say as Morals are metaphysical concept, morality is subjective depends upon the point of view of the moral agent. Moral consequences are the assumptions of human imagination and thus it is questionable. Moral relativity is also a reason why all action not necessarily leads to moral consequences. If every action was evaluated according to moral consequences then our society should have been perfect, but that is not the case. Actions are also performed out of obligation, duty, or passion by moral agent who does not care for the consequences to be moral. One of the main problems is presupposition of consequences to be moral. Hume asserts that cause and effect are constantly conjoined but never necessarily connected. Similarly, human action will definitely result into some consequences but not necessarily into a moral consequence. Therefore, it will be false to say that- “There is no possibility of a human action without moral consequences”.

Debate Round No. 4
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Vote Placed by PiningForASilverLining 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con is right in arguing that morality is subjective. Pro seems to be debating that every action has consequences, which is true, but adds this ambiguous concept of "Morality" to it. something might seem morally righteous to one group of people, morally reprehensible to another, and a third group might consider it to be benign
Vote Placed by Juan_Pablo 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: In fairness to Con, I favored Pro's position initially but saw some truth in Con's position too during the debate. What I also want to add is that morality is always biased in favor of humans, too, which shows it too be a human construct (though built upon pleasure and pain experience). For example, humans promote morals that favor their conditions over other animals and plants, which is demonstrated by our eating of them. Both did a good job during the debate, however.