The word "teleology" is derived from the Greek word "tells" that means "ends." In this theory, you would consider the ends, or the outcomes of your decision. Since this theory is concerned about the consequences of the decision, it is also referred to as consequentialist. One of the most common branches of this theory is utilitarianism, which was discussed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill in the 19th century. A utilitarian considers an act right if it is useful in bringing about the best consequences overall. This theory can be utilized in clinical decision-making by first identifying what the dilemma entails and several alternative choices to solve it. Next you would predict what consequences would be associated with each alternative. You would then choose the solution that you believe would bring about the best possible consequence for the situation. Remember, in this theory the means justify the ends, according to The Texas Physical Therapy Association.
Not all teleological theories are consequentialist. For example, John Rawls' theory of justice is teleological, but not consequentialist because it claims that consequences are only part of what must be considered when determining what policy is morally just.
For the next few paragraphs I will be taking the time to explore consequentialist theory in more depth because it plays such a major role in understanding the teleological theory. Under a consequentialist theory, the consequences of an action determine its moral value. A question that has raised many opinions is " How do we measure the moral worth of the consequences of the choices we make?" Since consequences can be good, neutral or evil another question tends to arise "are all consequences valid?"
All of these considerations go into shaping the ethical theory. For example, as discussed earlier Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill were both utilitarians. However similar they were in their basic assumptions, there were clearly some...
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Bentham, J. Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation in Warnock, M ed. Utilitarianism, On Liberty, Essay on Bentham: together with selected writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin, Meridian/New American Library (New York, NY: 1974).
Hume, D. A Treatise of Human Nature, Penguin Books Ltd. (London: 1969).
Kant, I. Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, tr. by T. K. Abbott, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY:1987).
Mill, J. S. Utilitarianism in Warnock, M ed. Utilitarianism, On Liberty, Essay on Bentham: together with selected writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin, Meridian/New American Library (New York, NY: 1974).
Rawls, J. A Theory of Justice, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA:1971).
Sartre, J. Existentialism and Humanism, Mairet, P. Trans. & Intro. Eyre Methuen Ltd. (London, UK: 1973).
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