In comparing the similarities and differences in ethical theories, the goals of each theory and the morals and values that can be observed in the process. While the following ethical theories appear similar on the surface virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethical will be discussed and their differences will be defined. Virtue Theory relates to the pursuit of excellence in everything you do. As one commercial put it, “Be all that you can be” (U. S. Army 1981). One must have the idea that if they want to maximize their greatest potential, they must work hard to produce it.
To the Utilitarian this may appear selfish, but self-discipline and self-determination is key to achieving the goal. Oxford dictionary describes utilitarianism as one who practices the doctrine that produces the greatest happiness of the greatest number. For example, a busy mother gives great sacrifice of putting her needs aside to take care of her three children who are home sick with the flu. At this moment, the mother, who is also sick with a temperature of 102 F, is not practicing virtue theory because; the mother has currently put her needs aside.
The mother is practicing patience and compassion to assure that her children get the care that they need. Boylan (page 171) describes Deontological ethics as a moral theory that emphasizes one’s duty to do a particular action just because it is right and not through any other sort of calculations. An example of this would include presenting an inventory sheet to authorities proving that fraudulent activity has occurred buy a company that has been charging customers extra for supplies.
The distinct difference of these theories suggests that virtual theory focuses attention toward creating greatness within one’s self. Utilitarianism focuses attention by creating greatness toward the masses. Deontological ethics relates to doing what is right whether it be for one’s self or for the masses with the understanding that happiness is not the goal but a moral responsibility is. A personal experience explaining the relationship between virtue, values, and moral concepts includes a deontological experience that I had several years ago.
One Friday afternoon I walked into a bank to cash a check in the amount of $527. 28. The teller cashed my check, but I did not bother to double check the money until I got home. After checking and double-checking the money that evening, I came to the realization that I had 627. 28 cash in my envelope. The teller accidently gave me an additional $100 dollar bill. I could not go back to the bank to address the problem because the bank had closed for the day.
I could not with good conscious keep the money because my family has instilled strong morals and values of honesty, integrity, and dignity within me. The money must be returned for it is the morally right thing to do. Saturday morning I drove back to the bank and asked for the manager and explained what had happened. I handed over the entire envelope as it was presented to me and I explained that two very crisp one hundred dollar bills were so tightly stuck together that it appeared as one bill.
The manager surprised at what had transpired the day before, thanked me for my honesty and determination to see that the money was returned. I told the manager that I appreciate her kind words but it was truly the right thing to do. Though comparing the similarities and differences with these moral standards, ethical theories along with morals and values can be observed in the process. While it is clear that these theories may appear similar in nature the following ethical theories, virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethical will be discussed and their differences will be defined.