Ethical systems form the basis of moral beliefs; they are the moral philosophies that order moral principles systematically. (Thomson and WardSworth, 2005) Ethical systems can be broadly classified into deontological and teleological ethical systems. A deontological system concerns itself with the nature of an act that is under judgment, if an act is good but results in bad consequences than if it still considered a good act. Teleological systems judge consequences of an act, if an act is bad but results in beneficial consequences then it is considered moral.
Ethical formulism judges the intent of the author thus, it is a deontological system. If a person performs an action from goodwill and it results in bad consequences, it is a moral action. This system also uses predetermined principles to judge goodness: that people should not be used as a means to an end, that behavior is moral when it is freely chosen and autonomous (someone worked to do a good thing is not really moral. ) and that actions should be based on behavior being universal.
Utilitarianism is a teleological system whose goal is judged by consequences of an action. In this case when an action contributes much to the good of majority it is moral, regardless of the individual or minority who may have suffered because of the action. Following this system, Winston Churchill by allowing Coventry to be bombed in World War II so the Germans would not know the Allies had cracked their military code did a moral thing even though hundreds of English people were killed, when they might have been saved had they been warned.
A smaller group was sacrificed for the sake of the greater good in this case, ending the war earlier and saving thousands more. Religion is a frequently used ethic system based on a willful a rational God. For believers there is no reason to question the authority of God’s will. The controversial issue is the interpretation of God’s will. According to Barry when is a dilemma; God’s will can be found in 3 ways; if one feels uncomfortable about a certain action, it is probably wrong.
Religious authorities can provide guidance on right and wrong and thirdly the scripture provides answers to moral dilemmas. (Thomson and Wadsworth, 2005) The natural law ethical system proposes that ‘what is good is natural and what is natural is good’. These are innate instincts for example self-preservation is inborn, natural and basic and all actions related to it such as self-defense, prohibition of murder are moral acts. The basic problem with this system is where it is difficult to identify what is consistent and congruent with human nature.
Focus on basic inclinations make this a teleological system because an action like killing may be wrong but if it is done in self-defense then it is considered a moral act since it is line with the self-preservation instinct. The ethics of virtue is a system that focuses on defining a good person as opposed to a ‘good action’. Here reason cannot be used to find out what is good. This system is teleological as it conserved with achieving a good end and more specifically happiness. One does good because of one’s character, if one has a bad character they will usually choose the immoral path.
For example, a person who is broke and sees a stranger drop money without realizing calls the strangers back and gives him his money, he has performed a moral act because he has a habit of integrity. Someone else would steal because it is in his or her character to do so. The ethics of care system emphasizes human relationships and needs. It has been referred to as a feminine morality as it is founded on the natural human response to care for unborn child, ill and hurt. Some Eastern religious like, reject a rule-based form of ethics preferring instead to lead an individual in caring for needs. Braswell et al, 2002).
The ethic behind rehabilitation is another illustration of ethics of care system. (Thomson and Wardsworth, 2005) This system is in line with teleological system of ethics because it does not simply classify action as wrong or right, rather it is concerned with the needs of others and effects of the actions on them, which learns more towards judging consequences corporations rather than the actions themselves. Egoism proposes that what is moral is what is good for one’s survival and personal happiness.
This premise in its extreme directs that people should do whatever is beneficial to them. This disregards other people, using them as means to ensure happiness and in effect it means they have no meaning or rights (Thomson and Wadsworth, 2005) Egoism, sees an individual who performs a completely selfish act as immoral even impossible as it is not in line with true nature of human beings who like all other species have instincts for survival, self preservation and self in trust which is merely part of this natural instinct.
This position is neither logical nor flexible single it would be in support of exploitation of the weak by the strong, which by all other systems is wrong. The system that closely matches my own beliefs is the religious ethical system. This is because the basis for ethics provided is rational since it can be identified wit a perfect God-figure. In addition, the similarity of the principles of these ethics in most of the religious are an indicator that they are acceptable to a wide majority hence they cover the needs of most of mankind adequately.
In addition, scripture provides answers to ethical problems in all circumstances, something that most other ethical systems do not. The issue of say the birth contradicting only comes up when there is failure to understand the context of scripture. Belief in a God means that we do not have the responsibility of determining what is right, or wrong, since an unquestionable authority has determined them already.