Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

2.4 Ethic of Consequences/Success Ethics

2.4.1 Introduction

While Kant decidedly shaped the thinking of continental Europe, the thinking of Anglo-Saxon countries, including the USA was molded by an almost opposite branch of ethics. This wing of ethics can best be described as “success ethics” or the “ethic of consequences.” They were not insignificantly influenced by Calvin’s ethics. This ethic freed itself of any assumption of a transcendental “idea,” such as Plato may have maintained, and just focuses on the consequence of an action. Decisive are the following statements.

  • Max Scheler: “The Right thing is the goal of action.”

The following slogans are easy to remember:

  • Erich Kästner: “There’s no good thing unless you do it.”
  • Bert Brecht: “The opposite of good is not bad, it is good intentions.”

This type of ethics picks up on a weak-point in the enlightened though ultimately idealistic structure of Kantian ethics. However it ends up falling into the opposite extreme.


2.4.2 Application/Discussion:

Problem: Tendency to become career oriented people

Discuss a common childhood example of ethics of the ethic of success. For example, a small child wants to help their mother and ends up causing a lot of damage.