Aside from utilitarianism, most ethical systems seem to advocate actions that might hurt somebody or at least inconvenience them.

For example, standing up to a bully might hurt them. Making a stand for social justice will offend people. And self-defense being the primary example. But even something such as an athlete or team at a big sports event deciding to score the 10th goal, when the game is already decided, might cause great discomfort, even humiliation to opposing athletes and fans.

Im aware of the doctrine of double effect, but that doesnt seem to be widely discussed among mainstream philosophers such as Aristotle or Kant.

So I was just wondering whether any mainstream philosophers at any point touched on that notion

  • Kant's position can be roughly described as "with moral duty consequences be damned", as he explains with respect to lying to a murderer, for example, "if you have kept strictly to the truth, then public justice can hold nothing against you, whatever the unforeseen consequences might be". But double effect is widely discussed by modern philosophers, including Kantians, see SEP.
    – Conifold
    Jan 25, 2021 at 5:28
  • Utilitarianism is not exempt. It is sometimes summarised as acting for "the greatest good of the greatest number". This inherently accepts that a smaller number may be harmed. The lack of any objective criteria for evaluating gross benefit against gross harm was utilitarianism's undoing. Jan 25, 2021 at 17:39


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