The similarities and differences between ethical theories are based on the explanation of ethical principles from the views of an individual. There are three major ethical theories: virtue ethics, deontology, and utilitarianism ethics. Ethics is the beliefs of right and wrong in human action (Boylan, 2009). There are many theories that exist on how people come to believe what is the right and wrong decision. Virtue ethics judges by the character of a person instead of the action deviate from normal behavior.
“…virtue ethics takes the long look at one’s character and is somewhat forgiving of an occasional slipup that is not in consonance with that person’s historical character” (Boylan, 2009, p. 134). An individual moral reputation are taken into account when unusual behavior is displayed. The “slipup” can be overlooked if the moral reputation of the person is ethical overall. Virtue ethics has one weakness that shows it does not take in consideration for an individual’s moral character. Boylan, 2009 states, it is not enough to do a single “great action” and those who are known for doing so are not excellent.
Utilitarianism suggest that an action is morally right when that action yields more total utility for the group than any other alternatives does (Boylan, 2009, p. 153). Individuals that practice utilitarianism take into considerations the consequences and each rule. Utilitarianism can be divided in two theories; act and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is interpreted by the slogan “the greatest good for the greatest number” (Boylan, 2009, p. 153) which each moral situation should be subjected to the utilitarian Act. This Act theory will benefit more people, but hurt another; benefits the majority.
The rule utilitarianism is opposite of the Act utilitarianism. Boylan, 2009 states the rule utilitarianism is an improvement to utilitarianism. There is no ethically correct answer to what happens under the “rule” of utilitarianism. “Utilitarian’s must maximize HAPPINESS. They must never accept unhappiness if they can minimize it” (Pecorino, 2000). The rule utilitarianism is based on happiness. “Moral theory that emphasizes one’s duty to do an action just because the action, itself is right and not through any other ethical situation known as deontology” (Boylan, 2009, p. 172). Individuals that seek commands are attracted to deontology.
Deontology is a guide of what we ought to do, and what kind of person we are and should be. Armstrong, 2011 website states consequentialism is solely focused on consequences. It is the moral rightness of acts and the right depends only on the consequences of that act. The consequences can have a positive or negative outcome. The differences in how each theory addresses ethics and morality starting with virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is based on the person moral characteristics rather than the actions. Utilitarianism goes by the consequences of actions for the overall right or wrong, not intent of the person.
Utilitarianism uses the pleasure principle that “pleasure is a clearly identifiable end to which all humans strive” (Boylan, 2009, p. 155). This principle can result in pleasure pain or neither. Deontology moral theory focuses on independent moral duties or rules. Action is recommended based on the principle of deontology. “Principle is justified through an understanding of the structure of action, the nature of reason, and the operation of the wall” (Boylan, 2009, p. 171). The decisions, duties and rules of the deontological system determined by God.
These theories all cater to ethics in their own way. They all have different qualities that stress the reason why certain actions are performed. Developing ethics and values starts from birth and which is developed by your surroundings that are influences in our life. Parents, family members and friends influence our thoughts and beliefs for better. As we develop our values and ethics it is through past experiences whether it is positive or negative experiences that help mold us as adults. I developed ethics and values when I was young. I was taught to know right from wrong at a young age.
I was punished if I lied or did something wrong and both parents has high standards and morals that they wanted me to abide by. They taught me that cheating, stealing and lying would not be tolerated. I would be held responsible if I did any of these unethical behaviors. They taught me to be truthful, humble, and treat others how you wanted to be treated. Virtue, values and morals are all viewed differently. The values and morals are based on the individual’s upbringing. The similarities and differences were displayed between the three major theories: virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics.
Believing what is right and/or wrong is based in the beliefs of the person. The three theories give different views on what to believe and think is the right and wrong decision. References Armstrong, W. (2011). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Consequentialism. Retrieved from http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/consequentialism Boylan, M. (2009). Basic ethics: Basic ethics in action (2nd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Pecorino, P. A. (2000). Utilitarianism. Retrieved fromhttp://www. qcc. cuny. edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/INTRO_TEXT/Chapter%208%20Ethics/Utilitarianism. htm.
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