Write 550- to 750 Provide a formal definition for ethics with citations, references etc. Describe the differences between theories Describe the similarities between each theory Describe how each theory addresses ethics and morality Tell me based on your own morals and ethics, which theories do you think you most closely follow in your life (there is no right or wrong answer) Ethics is the science of right and wrong in human action. (Boylan, 2009). Many theories exist that explores how people come to what they believe is the right or wrong decision.
A few examples include virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontology. Virtue ethics’ position is that we become good when we cultivate excellence (virtue) by pursuing the moderate course between excess and defect. (Boylan, 2009, p. 133) This basically means that this theory considers how humans should interact with each other meaning that there is a right way and a wrong way. Utilitarianism suggests that an action is morally right when that action produces more total utility for the group as a consequence than any other alternative does (Boylan, 2009, p. 53) Those who practice utilitarianism take into consideration all of the consequences and each action. Utilitarianism can be divided into two theories; act and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is the interpretation of utilitarianism that says that each moral situation should be subjected to the utilitarian formula “the greatest good for the greatest number. ” (Boylan, 2009, p. 164) This idea of ethical decision making seems to be the least emotional due to the fact that it is pure numbers in the equation. This might hurt one person but more people will benefit from it.
Rule utilitarianism says that each moral situation should be guided first by prima facie rules (that themselves are justified by utilitarianism). Thus, the agent assesses a situation on act utilitarian principles but within a framework of prima facie rules that can override apparent act-utilitarian outcomes. (Boylan, 2009, p. 164) Unlike, act utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism considers injustices of an individual for the greater good whereas act utilitarianism does not. Deontology is the moral theory that suggests that an agent’s duty is based upon principle.
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The theory bases its duties on the nature of human reason or on the nature of human action. It asserts the existence of moral facts and so is a moral realist theory. (Boylan, 2009, p. 171) This idea goes along with the notion that each person has a built in moral code. A person will do the right thing even though they know there will consequences. There are similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics. Each theory has it’s own ideas regarding ethics and morality regarding the individual and society.
Consequences and benefits differ with each theory. Virtue theory states that humans have virtues for the sake of what is good and right and these virtues are the supreme human good. Virtues drive our tendencies for behavior and control how we feel and interpet things. Living a good life is living a virtuous life within society. A person’s actions are the direct results and reflection of an individual’s morals and virtues. Utilitarian theory is concerned with the maximum benefit or good for the greatest number of people.
The outcome with the greatest benefits for greatest numbers is always the desired result. However, the greatest good for the majority should not come at the expense of harming the minority. The minority may have to endure some individual sacrifice so that the greatest numbers in society can realize the greatest good. Deontology is concerned with the meaning behind ethical decisions and conduct instead of end results or outcome. It looks at how an individual is obligated to act in terms of right and wrong conduct.
It is the individual’s duty and obligation to follow the law and it is acceptable to harm some people for the greater good and benefit. Utilitarian theory is less concerned with the individual because all that matters is an outcome the benefits the most people. It focuses more on actions of the majority to create the greatest good and outcome. However, there is always a minority and those people will not always benefit under this system. The majority needs to have good values and morals for society to flourish and benefit. Virtue and deontology theories have more focus on the individual and.
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