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Ethics Munson’s 5 Ethical Theories Essay

Ethics is a branch if philosophy that deal with ideas about what is morally good and bad. Ethics act as tools, giving us guidance when we need to make important decisions in personal and professional situations. There are biblical inferences that can relate to most if not all situations that we come across in our daily lives. God will not put us in any situations that we cannot be triumphant in. If the Bible is an absolute in all of these theories, so is Jesus Christ. The first ethical theory is Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the ethical theory that describes how the moral value or worth of an action is determined by how much benefit is gained from that action. It is measured by not only the amount of benefit gained but also the amount of people with benefits in the process. This theory hopes to provide guidance when choosing a course of action. Utilitarianism is divided into two groups based off of how they apply the theory. A Rule Utilitarian believes that the action is right if it results in happiness of great benefit (Munson, 2009). For example, the commandment, “thou shall not kill” is very straight forward and doesn’t leave room for interpretation. Someone who follows Rule Utilitarianism would strictly follow this rule by never committing murder or killing any living creature.

An Act Utilitarian would decipher the commandment according to its greatest benefit. Act utilitarianism is the belief that an action is right if it is better than all of the other options as long as it yields the best results. In other words, there may be situations in which breaking the rules may be the best option. Breaking the commandment, “ thou shall not kill” may seem wrong when looking at it from the surface, but if it is done to save the life’s of others it may yield the best result. The absolute that applies to Utilitarianism is the Bible. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart; not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This theory is about the best benefit and focuses on the amount of benefit as well as the amount of people it benefits. In order to achieve this, the reason for giving cannot be selfishly or self- motivated. Immanuel Kant’s deontological theory is the completely opposite of Utilitarianism. Kantian Ethics believes that right and wrong are not depended on their consequences but on whether the duty or task at hand is fulfilled.

Kant theory is also reliant on the view that humans, unlike any other creature, have the capacity to rationalize. He believes that a person’s feelings and inclinations should not play any part in motivating a chosen action. This theory does not work well in the field of healthcare. Feelings and inclinations are a necessity when working with human beings. Healthcare workers are not reading step by step instructions as if they are putting a car together, but instead are caring for a patient whose case is different and patient specific. Patients cannot be treated like a checklist. Although this theory eliminated any of the categories under the Bible: commandments, guidelines, inferences, and convictions; completion is a big topic in the Bible. God completed the creation of the world in six days, and rested on the seventh. Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day. In John 17:4, Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” W.D. Ross believed that there was not one rule or principle that one must abide by. Instead he believed that we can progress through moral duties. Ross proposed that we have self-evident prima facie moral duties and that there are some things have intrinsic value (Ross, 2002).

He believed we have the duty of fidelity or the duty to keep our promises, the duty of reparation or the duty to pay for harm done to others, the duty of gratitude or the duty to return favors, the duty of beneficence or the duty to maximize the good, and the duty of non-injury or the duty to refuse harm to others (Ross, 2002). For example, it is generally wrong to kill a person because it causes pain and is one of the 10 commandments. In order for it not to be wrong to kill, a person must have an overriding reason to do it such as saving the lives of others. Ross’s belief in overriding reason is very similar to that Act Utilitarianism. The Bible is an absolute in this theory as well. Ross puts emphasis on the duties we must uphold. The Bible lays out many duties given to Christians. One of the most popular lists is the Ten Commandments. Virtue Ethics is the approach that deemphasizes rules and duty, focusing on a person’s character (Munson, 2009). Character is an important focus when choosing employees in the Healthcare field. I have worked in many healthcare areas and have worked with many people who truly were not in the field for the right reasons. Passion is a necessity when working with human beings. There are many workers who lack this characteristic and are simply in the field for monetary benefit.

Although it may be impossible to completely rid the healthcare field of “bad seeds,” providing an overflow of kindhearted, loving employees would definitely help. The Bible is an absolute in this ethical approach. Matthew 12:35 says, “The good person out of his good treasure bring forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” As a Christian we must make sure we are living our lives in God’s image. We are walking billboards for Christ and need to make sure that we act accordingly. As a Christian, this walk will definitely be hard and there will be many temptations along the way but our character will help us to choose the right path. Care Ethics argues that some duties cannot be justified by theories of right, justice, and utility (Velasquez, 2002). Care ethics believe that the most important factor is the concrete relationship with a person or persons (Velasquez, 2002). This theory is very evident in the healthcare field and I find this theory most appealing. I have worked in the healthcare field for most of my career and realize that it is my duty to take care of and provide for each patient I serve.

Through experience, I also realize that there are certain patients that I have been drawn to, and that I feel closer to. At my last job, I worked on the spinal cord injury unit. Most of my patients were fully depended on what I did for them. The interaction could be awkward as I was performing tasks such as showers, bowel programs, and diaper changes. I felt it my duty to make them feel comfortable and to let them know that I care. For a lot of my patients, I was the only family they had. No one ever came to visit them so our conversation was something to look forward to. As I worked with a patient every day, special bonds were formed. We celebrated any and all progress made. Whether it is something as small as moving a pinky for the first time or taking a first step after, everything should be celebrated. Both Jesus Christ and the Bible are absolutes in this theory.

This job has also taught me to be more appreciative of the things I do have. It has taught me to stop complaining about little things. Most of my patients lived regular lives just as I do, and in an instance it was taken away from them. Most people unknowingly take things for granted such as being able to walk, talk, brush your teeth, and clothe yourself. Instead, we feel that the things are owed to us and that we are deserving of these things. The Bible and Jesus Christ are definitely absolutes in this theory. We as Christians yearn for a strong, deeper relationship with God and the best way to attain this is by studying the word of God daily. Proverbs 8:17 says, “I Love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.”

Holy Bible
Kant, I. (1785) “First Section: Transition from the Common Rational Knowledge of Morals to the Philosophical.” Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. Munson, R. (2009). Intervention and Reflection: Basic issues of bioethics (9th ed.). Ross, W.D., (2002). The Right and the Good. Edited, with an Introduction, by Philip Stratton- Lake. New York: Oxford University Press: rpt. of original 1930 edition. Velasquez, M.G., (2002). Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

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