The Search for Truth and the Evaluation of Moral Duty: Finding Balance Between Intention and Result

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Feb 03, 2024

4 min read


The Search for Truth and the Evaluation of Moral Duty: Finding Balance Between Intention and Result


In our pursuit of truth and our evaluation of moral duty, we often find ourselves grappling with conflicting perspectives. Is truth an unattainable ideal, or should we embrace the wisdom of abandoning its pursuit? Similarly, should the virtue of an action lie solely in its intention, or should we also consider the consequences? In this article, we will explore these questions and attempt to find a balance between the search for truth and the evaluation of moral duty.

The Elusive Nature of Truth:

The skepticism surrounding the attainment of truth stems from the belief that neither reason nor our senses allow us to grasp reality as it truly is. Some argue that it is not doubt that makes us unhappy, but rather the conviction of possessing the truth. By suspending judgment, it is suggested that one can attain happiness. However, this complete skepticism leads to inaction and silence, as any action or assertion requires belief. The pursuit of truth may seem to contradict individual happiness, as it often disrupts personal comfort. Despite this, the search for truth is seen as an effort towards emancipation from illegitimate authorities that dictate our thoughts and actions. It is an ideal that enables true freedom.

The Dilemma of Intention versus Result:

When evaluating moral duty, we encounter a dilemma: should the virtue of an action be solely based on intention or should the consequences also be taken into account? Those who believe that virtue lies in intention argue that, regardless of the outcome, fulfilling one's duty is paramount. For instance, if one attempts to save a drowning person but fails due to external factors, the effort and intention still hold moral value. However, for others, the intention alone is not enough. They argue that morality cannot disregard the consequences of our actions.

Intention as the Sole Determinant of Virtue:

According to Kant, if duty is selfless, the result becomes inconsequential. For example, if one's duty is to save a drowning person, the individual should make every effort to fulfill this duty. Even if they are unsuccessful, they can still consider themselves virtuous because they acted according to their duty. However, it is crucial that genuine effort accompanies intention; otherwise, we are left with a mere illusion of good intentions without any action.

Balancing Intention and Consequence:

Hegel proposes an objective ethical perspective, stating that duty should also be evaluated based on objective results. He argues that freedom must manifest in history rather than remain subjective and internal. In this context, intention alone is insufficient if it does not actively strive for success. Sometimes, the end justifies the means, and duty requires a consideration of external realities, even if it means getting one's hands dirty. Additionally, utilitarianism emphasizes that good intentions can lead to catastrophic outcomes, while actions with dishonest intentions can still bring about positive consequences. The moral value of an action is determined by its utility and the overall impact it has.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the search for truth: Despite its challenges, the pursuit of truth is vital for personal growth and emancipation from oppressive influences. Strive to continually seek knowledge and challenge preconceived notions.
  • 2. Consider both intention and consequence: When evaluating moral duty, it is essential to find a balance between intention and consequence. Recognize that good intentions alone do not always guarantee virtuous actions, and the impact of our actions must be taken into account.
  • 3. Embrace self-reflection: Regularly examine your intentions and actions to ensure they align with your values. Reflecting on the consequences of your actions will help you make more informed decisions and grow morally.


The search for truth and the evaluation of moral duty are complex matters that require careful consideration. While truth may be an elusive ideal, it is essential to strive for it continually. Similarly, the evaluation of moral duty necessitates a balance between intention and consequence. By embracing these concepts and incorporating actionable advice into our lives, we can navigate the complexities of truth-seeking and moral decision-making with greater clarity and integrity.

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