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Ethics Essay

Essay by   •  April 28, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  812 Words (4 Pages)  •  896 Views

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Similarities in the concepts of morals and ethics are often confused. Both concepts appertain what is right or wrong in relation to an individual's character or behavior. There is a distinction between the two. Morals are a set of principles based on beliefs or lessons that reflect how an individual behaves in personal interactions or with society as a whole. Ethics are the theories behind those principles that relates to how a person deals with situations. Ethical theories are categorized as ethics of character or ethics of conduct. Ethics of character concern developing attributes within oneself valued as good. Ethics of conduct focuses on the action or behavior necessary to do what is right for the best ends. Ethical theories express what is "good" and what is morally right. Virtue ethics is an ethical theory based on an individual's ethical character and is different from moral theories regarding conduct.

"...the difference between virtue ethics and modern moral theories is that most modern ethical theorists believe "rightness as a matter of producing good results or conforming to moral rules or principles, but virtue ethics specify what is moral in relation to such inner factors as character and motive" (Küçükuysal, 2011, p.44).

Virtue ethics and ethical theories based on conduct are separate in the ways they address ethics and morals. Virtue ethics proposes developing favorable characteristics within ourselves and moral ethical theorists focus on how we should behave ethically in difficult situations. "The virtue ethics explains the characteristics of a virtuous person and suggests that individuals can develop moral character over time through habitual action and practice" (Küçükuysal, 2011, p. 44). A person who is virtuous practices good deeds developed throughout his or her lifetime and by doing so is also morally good.

The theory behind ethics is the question, "what makes something good?" Is it the action itself, the motivation or intention for doing the act, or the ends to the act? The source of good derives from the value it provides. Something good may have intrinsic value or instrumental value. If something has intrinsic value, it is good because of what it is and instrumental value is if an action is used to provide a good outcome. In comparison, theories of ethics place morals on intrinsic or instrumental value. One such theory is utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism is a theory that upholds if an action brings about good consequences, the action is morally right. This theory focuses right or wrong on usefulness of actions that produce the greatest good for the greater number. In other words, the moral value of an action is defined by the outcome that maximizes happiness or pleasure for the greatest number. "In utilitarianism good is defined as that which maximizes pleasure" (Boylan, 2009, p. 166). Jeremy Bentham, a modern utilitarian,

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