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Ethics - Essay Example

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Ethics Abstract Ethics, like rules of law, defines people’s acceptable behavior in interactions with the aim of protecting others’ social interest. Each society has its sets of ethical values that are often distinct from those of other societies and are explained by ethical concepts and theories…
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This paper discusses the virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics together with a personal experience that explains the relationship between virtue, value, and moral concepts. The Theories and Their Approach in Addressing Ethics and Morality Virtue theory The virtue theory is one of the applicable theories in determining morality of an act. The theory bases morality on a person’s character and not on intention or possible results of his or her actions. Admirable characteristics of an individual define morality within social systems. The theory further defines character as people’s demonstrated behavioral tendencies and classifies a person’s behavior as moral if such behavior is admirable among members of the society and promotes social cohesion. Further, the behavior must foster rationality in people’s actions that need to be free from selfishness and bias. Virtue ethics also avoids extremes. It is, however, criticized for its high-level variability across societies (Brook & Dunn, 2009). Utilitarianism Utilitarianism, however, focuses on the intent to maximize utility, and is based on beneficence doctrine. This means a promotion of what is good and voidance of all sorts of action that can cause harm to other people. In either of its forms, whether act utilitarianism or rule utilitarianism, the theory identifies a person’s motive and considers morality when an action causes more benefits that harm. Act utilitarianism measures morality in terms of results of an act of omission or commission while rule utilitarianism relies on set rules of ethics, which regulate acts for beneficence, to determine morality. Utilitarianism can also be explored from philosophical perspectives that include “welfarism, consequentialism, aggregative and maximizing” (Kanniyakonil, 2007, p. 66). Welfarism focuses on the society’s well being, consequentialism focuses on impacts of actions, and aggregative aspect compares levels of good or bad that an action elicits. These approaches apply either singularly or dependently to determine morality in an act (Kanniyakonil, 2007). Deontology Deontology is another approach to determining morality. It is based on moral rules and obligations to do right in the society and its general scope defines an act as moral when a person fulfils an obligation. It, however, disregards consequences of such actions. Failing to honor an obligation with the aim of promoting good, and even achieving the desired objective, defines immorality. There exist two types of deontology: “act deontology and rule deontology” (Kanniyakonil, 2007, p. 60). Act deontology requires that a person evaluate all factors around a situation before making a decision based on direct or implied obligations. Rule deontology, however, pre-establishes standards upon which obligations are derived (Kanniyakonil, 2007). Similarities Among the Theories The major similarity among the three concepts is their objective of determining and consequently ensuring morality. They all establish bases for evaluation and classification of people’s advances as moral or immoral, ethical or unethical. Further, deontology and utilitarianism are similar in their mode of approach. They both apply action and rules to determine morality. Applicability of all the theories also varies from one society to another based on cultural values. Their strict application in one setup may, therefore, not correspond to application in another setup (Brook & Dunn, 2009; Kanniyakonil, ... Read More
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