In life one must deal with moral and ethical dilemmas. “Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral obligation” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2013). It studies human moral behavior and how one should act. Ethics helps to explain how a person should feel about a particular situation. There are several groups of studies of ethics that defend and recommend concepts of right and wrong. The focus of this paper will be to describe three of the groups of within ethics, which are virtue theory, utilitarianism, and, deontological ethics.
Afterward, it will show how virtue theory played a major part in a personal ethical dilemma. “Virtue ethics is a classification within Normative Ethics that attempts to discover and classify what might be deemed of moral character, and to apply the moral character as a base for one’s choices and actions” (Gowdy, 2009, Virtue Ethics, para. 1). The general perspective of virtue ethics is that one should choose their own personal excellence and contentment. If the person’s character is good, one should not be judged mainly by rules and customs.
Virtue theory looks at someone’s habits of excellence for long term and forgives for minor mistakes. The Utilitarianism theory means “The greatest good for the greatest number” (Boylan, 2009, p. 153). “Utilitarianism is an ethical principle according to which an action is right if it tends to maximize happiness, not only the agent also of everyone affected” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2013). They focus on the acts of a person rather than ones motives. The moral action in this theory must be the greatest aggregate utility or the average utility.
Bentham and Mills supported the theory of utilitarianism and created the pleasure principle. They believed that pleasure principle is a clearly identifiable end to what humans strive. “Deontological is a moral theory that emphasizes one’s duty to do a particular action just because the action, itself, is inherently right and not through any other sorts of calculations such as consequences to the action” (Boylan, 2009, p. 171). Deontology advocates the nature of principle. Moral principles are warranted through an understanding of the structure, reason and will.
The foundation of commands in deontology involves laws and natural moral duties. Kant was a strong proponent of deontology and believed that people must act from duty. He argued that it is not the effects of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives of the person. My moral dilemma relates to the virtue theory because of my family’s strong religious values and beliefs. My family nurtured me in a strict Catholic household and with high family religious morals. I performed all the Catholic rituals starting from when I was very young, such as first communion and all the way to confirmation.
We went to church every Sunday and my family and I still continue the same rituals. I encountered my moral dilemma when I became pregnant before I was married. My family was very disappointed when they discovered I was pregnant and wanted us to get married right away. In the Catholic religion it is considered a major sin to have a baby out of wedlock. My boyfriend and I believed we were not prepared to get married at the time. Marriage is a strong sacrament in our religion as well. We did not want to rush into getting married just because of my family’s religious values.
We married in Catholic Church two years after our son was born. Even though I lived my life as a respectable Catholic, I could not conform strictly to their rules. I had to decide what was best for my absolute moral value and character. In conclusion it is good to question ethics because one must decide from right and wrong. We have learned through virtue, utilitarianism, and deontological theories that there are different ways to rationalize a dilemma. The responsibility of an individual is to decide how to deal with each ethical situation to the best of our own abilities.
It is from actual life experiences and ethical values that make us who we are. References Boylan, M. (2009). Basic Ethics (2nd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Ethics. (2013). In Merriam-Websters Online Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www. merriam- webster. com/dictionary/ethic Gowdy, L. N. (2009). Ethic Morals. Retrieved from http://www. ethicsmorals. com/ethicsvirtue. html Utilitarianism. (2013). In Merriam-Websters Online Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/utilitarianism.
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