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Ethics: Virtue Theory, Utilitarianism, Deontological Ethics

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Ethics: Virtue Theory, Utilitarianism, Deontological Ethics

The quest to gain a better knowledge of ethics and social responsibility leads us to delve into the topics of virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics and comparing the similarities and differences between them. The following analysis of these topics will describe their differences and how each theory attends to ethics and morality. The following analysis also includes a personal experience explaining the relationship between virtue, values, and moral concepts as they relate to one of the above theories.

Virtue Theory

Virtue theory focuses on an individual's character and is defined in Basic Ethics by Boylan as, "Agent-based ethics. Its position is that we become good when we cultivate excellence (virtue) by pursuing the moderate course between excess and defect. Since the origin of the virtues is in question, some practitioners of virtue ethics are moral realists while others are not." (Boylan, 2009) This theory does not take into consideration rules or the outcomes of certain situations but rather focuses on character and an individual's motivations and intentions.

Utilitarianism Theory

The utilitarianism theory operates under the premise of finding the best outcome for the greatest amount of people and equates to the team effort philosophy that the needs of the team come before the individual members and when this is achieved it is deemed ethical. Working in teams is a vital part of most professional and higher learning establishments and allows individuals to develop important problem solving, delegation, and leadership skills. According to Boylan, "Utilitarianism is a theory that suggests that an action is morally right when that action produces more total utility for the group than any other alternative." (Boylan, 2009)

Deontology Theory

Deontology as defined in Basic Ethics is, "A moral theory that emphasizes one's duty to do a particular action just because the action, itself, is inherently right and not through any other sorts of calculations--such as the consequences of the action." (Boylan, 2009) This theory is more rigid in structure and centralizes around the idea of doing ones duty- to human conventions (laws) and an innate moral code.

Similarity within Theories

The main similarity woven through these three theories is the result originated from the actions. Although all three of these theories are not result based in the determination of morality and ethics, they do each produce a result nonetheless. Another similarity is the common thread of humans striving for a justified good and represents the desire to adhere to a form of morals.




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