Logic of Consequences


The Logic of Consequences is a way of making choices by thinking about what will happen after we act. It’s like playing a game of chess and trying to figure out what your opponent will do after you make a move. When you use the Logic of Consequences, you’re not just doing something because you’re supposed to or because it’s always been done that way. Instead, you’re asking yourself, “What will happen if I do this?” and “Will the outcome be good or bad?” It’s a step-by-step process. First, you think of all the possible things that could happen because of your action. Then, you try to figure out which of those things are likely to happen. Finally, you choose the action that you think will lead to the best overall outcome.

To give a second definition, imagine you are at a crossroad with many paths ahead. The Logic of Consequences would be like using a map that tells you what’s at the end of each path before you decide which way to go. You would consider the results of going down each path—whether one leads to a beautiful garden or another to a dead end. By using this logic, you make your decision based on which path leads to the place you want to end up at.

Examples of Logic of Consequences

  • When a student pulls an all-nighter to study for an exam, they’re betting that the loss of sleep will be worth the knowledge they gain. They’re using the Logic of Consequences by thinking that their hard work will pay off in better grades.
  • A business deciding to give part of their profits to charity is an example of the Logic of Consequences. They believe that by helping others, they’ll also help themselves. People might prefer to buy from a company that is generous, which can lead to more sales and even more profit for the business.
  • A person choosing to recycle is still another example. They’re not just thinking about the hassle of sorting trash; they’re considering the long-term health of the planet. They understand that their small action, when combined with the efforts of others, can lead to cleaner air and water.
  • A government creating a new law against texting while driving is also using the Logic of Consequences. They predict that by making this law, there will be fewer car accidents, making roads safer for everyone.
  • A family deciding to save money every month is working with the Logic of Consequences. They think ahead to emergencies or future needs like college tuition, believing that their savings will help them in those times.

Why Is It Important?

Thinking about outcomes is like having a superpower for decision-making. It keeps you from making choices you’ll later regret. By imagining the future, you can avoid problems and do things that will help you, like studying for a test to get a good grade or saving money for something big. It’s important for everyone—not just big-shot leaders or businesses.

For example, say you have the choice to cheat on a test. Sure, you might get a high score now, but by using the Logic of Consequences, you’ll realize you risk getting caught and possibly failing the course, not to mention you won’t actually learn the material, which could hurt you in the future. By considering the possible outcomes, it’s clear that cheating can come with some pretty bad consequences.

Further, this thinking is everywhere. When governments choose to invest in education, they’re considering that an educated population leads to a stronger economy and better quality of life in the long run. Understanding the Logic of Consequences aids us in appreciating why leaders make certain tough decisions, like why sometimes messy and unpopular actions, such as raising taxes, might be taken to fund important projects for the future.


People have always thought about outcomes when making choices. But as a serious idea that scholars talk about, the Logic of Consequences is often linked with Utilitarianism. This philosophy suggests we should pick actions that create happiness for the most people. It’s like suggesting that if you’re baking a cake for your class, you should choose the flavor that most people will enjoy.


Some people say the Logic of Consequences is too focused on results. They worry it forgets about how important it is to follow rules or do what’s right simply because it’s right. This argument is about whether the ends justify the means, or whether some actions are off-limits, no matter what good might come from them.

Further Considerations

Predicting the future isn’t easy, and sometimes things don’t turn out the way we expect. That’s one problem with the Logic of Consequences. Also, sometimes we think more about what will happen right away and not enough about what will happen later on. Good decision-making means considering both the short and long-term consequences.

Related Topics

  • Opportunity Cost: This is when you think about what you’re giving up when you choose one thing over another. Like, if you spend your allowance on a movie, you can’t use it to buy a book.
  • Risk Assessment: This is looking at what might go wrong when you’re deciding what to do. If you’re thinking about skateboarding without pads, risk assessment would involve considering the chance of getting hurt.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: This is a more formal way of weighing the pros and cons of a decision. If you’re saving for a new phone, you’d list all the good (benefits) and bad (costs) things about spending your money now versus waiting until later.


The Logic of Consequences is a powerful tool for thinking about our actions and their results. It can help us make smarter choices by leading us to consider the good and bad that come from what we do. Although it’s not perfect (after all, thinking ahead can be tricky and sometimes we focus on the short term too much), learning about this way of thinking can help us in our daily lives and understand the decisions happening around us at a larger scale.