Consequentialist Virtue Ethics

My ethical position is consequentialist virtue ethics. I believe the rightness or wrongness of an action should be determined by its consequences. In everyday life, I make decisions based on a virtue ethics that aims to cultivate mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom. As it turns out, wise, mindful, and compassionate actions are also those (in general) that produce the most positive and least negative effects.

However, to nuance this view, I believe that impacts on rights and duties should be taken into consideration when determining consequences; this adds a deontological twist to my consequentialism.   I also agree with Rawls that principles of justice should be determined from an Original position in which everyone decides principles of justice from behind a veil of ignorance.  This “veil” is one that essentially blinds people to all facts about themselves that might cloud what notion of justice is developed.

“No one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like. I shall even assume that the parties do not know their conceptions of the good or their special psychological propensities. The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance.”

I believe that determinations of principles of justice made from this perspective will promote the greatest positive effects and good  for the greatest number of people.   Producing the most just societies, they will minimize unnecessary suffering over inequality and provide the greatest number of opportunities and most conducive social circumstances for practicing virtues of mindfulness, compassion, and justice (for those who value these virtues and their cultivation).

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