The above statement captures the essence of consequentialist and deontological approaches. Consequentialism talks of a good consequence regardless of whether the action was right or wrong. It says ends justify means.
- Deontological view talks of the right action regardless of the end consequence.
- Meaning, the end is not important, it’s more important to follow the right path. As an eg. – the Utilitarian perspective is consequentialist while Kant’s categorical imperative is deontological.
- Both theories have their flaws. The utilitarian perspective is only concerned with the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
- If killing a person gave happiness to 100 other people, it would be just to execute that one person.
- On the other hand, Kant’s categorical imperative would condemn lying but there are many instances where lying can save one’s life. So it cannot be universally applied.
From the above, we cannot say that defining ‘right action’ is a mistake and ‘good consequence’ should have primacy. There cannot be a narrative that can be universally applied. Their applicability depends on a case by case scenario.
Gandhi was of the opinion that not only are the ends important but so are the means. It is not enough to fight for freedom but to have Dharma on our side which means right action. This implies that the right action and good consequence need not be in contradiction. They cannot be seen in dichotomous terms. A harmonious synthesis of the two is always possible and always think of solutions that do justice to both.