Ethics is system of moral principles, the way individuals conduct themselves with respect to the right and wrong of their actions and to the good and bad of any motives and ends of such actions. Ethics are instilled in individuals since they were children by parents, teachers, and loved ones. This paper will show the similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics. Similarities and Differences Understanding the similarities between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics, they first must be defined.
Boylan (2009) stated, “Virtue ethics is also sometimes called agent based or character ethics. It takes the viewpoint that in living your life you should try to cultivate excellence in all that you do and all that others do” (p. 133). Individuals who judge others by his or her character rather than his or her actions, exemplifies the virtue theory of ethics. Utilitarianism is defined as a theory that an action is morally right when that action is for the greater good of a group rather than just an individual (Boylan, 2009).
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Utilitarianism theory is based upon creating the greatest good for a number of people. An individual can be overlooked in order to achieve a greater goal for all individuals involved. Deontology ethics is a moral theory that suggests that an individual’s duty to do a certain task because the action, itself, is right, and not through any other sorts of calculations—such as the consequences of the action (Boylan, 2009). Basically the theory suggests that individuals have a moral obligation to follow certain rules that are deemed unbreakable.
Virtue theory determines the good and bad traits of a person over a long period of time. Utilitarianism theory also finds the good in a person - provides guidance for behavior and enables people to know what differentiates as a good moral choice. Deontology recommends an action based upon principle. Utilitarianism is the end justifies the mean while deontology is the end does not justify the means. Virtue theory is a broad term that relates to the individuals character and virtue in morals rather than doing their duty or acting to bring about good choices.
From the time we are able to walk and talk we are given rules from our parents. Those rules are not given as punishment, but to guide us in life to know what is right from wrong. We are taught morals on how to act, how to treat others, not to lie or be disrespectful. We are taught virtues that were instilled in our parents from their parents and passed on from generation to generation in hopes that we learn from their past mistakes. They place values in us that we will grow up to do the right things in life and teach others and to lead by example.
Ethics is something everyone learns from a young age and individuals either grow with it or they choose to follow another path in life that may not be as good as it should have been. Ethics is learned it is not something that is already in place. Some people go above and beyond, why others falter. People all have a choice in life as the path they travel down. Every individual should instill some form of ethics within them so the world could be a better place to live in.
- Boylan, M. (2009). Basic Ethics: Basic ethics in action (2nd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
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