Monday, May 01, 2006

Motives and Consequences

"An important part of moral development is the recognition that motive, not consequence, is the critical factor in deciding whether an act is ethical."
I think this quote goes along with the idea of acting with good intentions. Were your choices for a good reason and in the best interest of the person/people involved, or was the choice selfish and thoughtless? No matter what the actual outcome (or consequence) was, what the intention was when the decision is made is what is important. For example, in a lot of the case studies we have discussed, there was a question about whether or not a photograph should be run. When they choose to run it, their motive is usually to inform the public and to emphasize the impact of a certain situation. The consequence includes some understanding consumers, and many angry and confused ones. But the motive of the newspaper was good, and if they can defend that motive, then the decision was ethical.
The hard part about understanding this statement, is that a lot of the time the expected consequence is the motivation. People act according to what they hope the outcome of their action is. So in that respect, motive and consequence are really almost the same thing.

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