Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics - Essay Example

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The aim of the paper “Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics” is to analyze different ethical theories that explain behavior. This paper discusses utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, and the theories similarities and differences…
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Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics
Ethics defines a set of acceptable values in a society and is a subjective force to behavior and interactions. There are, however, different ethical theories that explain behavior and this paper discusses utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, and the theories similarities and differences.
Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics: Description, Similarities, and Differences
Deontology is one of the commonly applied ethical theories and is based on Immanuel Kant’s philosophy. According to the theory, morality of a decision or an action is based on the actor’s obligation to involved stakeholders and on existing regulations on the subject matter. Decisions and actions should be geared towards fulfilling obligations and existing laws. Consequently, acts that meet the expectations are considered ethical and those that do not meet the expectations are considered unethical. The theory therefore offers no regards to people’s immediate welfare, may subject actors to conflict of interest, and it is not based on rationale. Utilitarianism, however, focuses on consequences of an action or decision, instead of existing rules and obligation that a person has to others. According to utilitarian theory, negative and positive effects of a decision or actions are considered and net effects used to determine morality. Those acts and decisions that yield net benefits are considered ethical, unlike those that offer net harm. This establishes the basis of determining morality as a difference between deontology and utilitarianism as deontology relies on rules and obligations while utilitarianism relies on effects of an act or a decision. Utilitarianism also remedies deontology’s weakness of lack of rationale and this identifies a difference. Focusing on consequences also establishes consistency and therefore minimizes conflicts. However, the two theories aims at determining morality in actions and decisions (Manias, E., Manias, N., & Monroe, 2013).
Analysis of virtue ethics, with the other two theories, also identifies both similarities and differences. The theory distinguishes rights and wrongs, just as deontology and utilitarianism. It is however based on the actor’s character, and not on consequences of actions or on existing rules and obligations. According to the theory, an individual with known moral behavior would be considered moral despite a wrongful act, unlike an individual who is known to have unethical traits. This also establishes a similarity between utilitarianism and virtue ethics, reliance on rationale, and a difference from deontology that lacks rationale (Manias, E., Manias, N., & Monroe, 2013).
Personal Experience Explaining Relationship between Virtues, Values, and Moral Concepts
One of my experiences, incident to ethical decisions, occurred when I encountered a child who needed help to receive emergency medical attention when helping would mean lateness for my assessment test at school. Taking even a few minutes to help the child, who was alone in the streets would mean lateness and according to school rules, I would lose my marks for the assessment and face punishment. Values define people’s moral perspectives to influence behavior and my value for life influenced me to apply utilitarian ethics in the scenario (Manias, E., Manias, N., & Monroe, 2013). I evaluated potential benefits and risks of leaving the child to secure my assessment decided that saving the child’s life, through facilitating her access to medical care, offered more benefits than securing my assessment. This is because lost life cannot be renewed while punishment and lost marks could not offer as much harm. In addition, there was ossibility of escaping the consequences in school because of the nature of the dilemma. I therefore took the child to the nearest hospital before heading to school.
Manias, E., Manias, N., & Monroe, D. (2013). Ethics applied. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions. Read More
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