There are similarities and differences, which exist between virtue, utilitarianism, and deontological ethical theories. I will provide an explanation of each theory as well as a description of the differences in how each theory addresses ethics and morality. From childhood to adulthood, People have lived through many experiences. I will touch briefly on a personal experience to show the relationship between virtue, values, and moral concepts as they relate to one of the theories.
Beginning with Virtue ethics, “it is also called agent-based ethics. Its position is that we become good when we cultivate excellence (virtue) by pursuing the moderate course between excess and defect” (Boylan, Pg 208, 2009). An example of this is by saying that a person who has a certain job or career can achieve excellence if he or she make the conscious decision to do what it takes to get there. Utilitarianism defined is “the theory that suggests that an action is morally right when that action produces more total utility for the group as a consequence than any other alternative does.” Utilitarianism has an individual put the entity before his or herself, for the greater good of the team, work-center, or corporation. By understanding one’s position in that entity, realizing at the moment there is someone better suited to fulfill a task, the utilitarian willingly would offer the task to the more qualified person. The Deontological theory, suggest, “that an agents duty is based up principle.
The theory bases its duties on the nature of human reason or on the nature of human action. It asserts the existence of moral facts and so is a moral realist theory.” An example of this theory would be the actions given to the police force. Policemen have a duty to uphold the law even if it means taking another persons life at will. Usually when warranted, the consequences of taking another persons life are justified by their duty to uphold the law.
Under virtue theory, ethics and morality are addressed by asking how do we determine if a person is good or not. Do we give ourselves time to get to know a person or do we determine the good in a person based on their acts. Is it fair to judge a person on acts alone? Understanding that some individuals may view things different from others describes morality. Morality is addressed by virtue to understand what one person thinks is ethically good or not may not be right or wrong to another. Utilitarianism addresses ethics and morality by placing the good of the group at the forefront. Utilitarianism would be a group of citizens believing in the same goal for the good of the team. For this to exist, each citizen in the group has the same beliefs and look for toward the same outcome. There is no question of right and wrong or the greater good. They all follow a set standard for what they perceive to be the best action for the team.
Deontology Theory addresses ethics and morality by taking the command action as it asks the question, “when does recognition of moral duty begin?” (Boylan, Pg. 173, 2009). The commanding task for this theory applies to those with a duty to act upon. For example, the president of the USA has a duty to protect the nation from all enemies. His position would fall into this theory whereas his personal thinking may be as a utilitarian or of virtue. Based on the position there may be a requirement to fulfill a certain duty under the deontological theory.
A personal experience that I could relate to one of these theories would be the legalization of abortion. Although I believe a person should have the right to an abortion, I do not believe the act itself is right. I also think it depends on the reason. I went through a situation in which a friend was pregnant and did not want to have an abortion, however, chose to do so because of her financial situation. Ethically she made a choice that was hers to do so but the moral to do so was wrong I feel based on her reasoning. Automatically I would say her values to the situation were about herself only and not about what she was destroying.
Comparing the Virtue, Utilitarianism, and Deontology theories provided some similarities and differences. An explanation was given for these theories as well as a description of the ethical and moral differences of each. Last, a personal experience was provided detailing how the relationship between virtue, values, and moral concepts related to the theories.
Boylan, M. (2009). Basic Ethics (2nd ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.