Compare Utilitarian and Deontological Theory

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 1745
  • Published : May 8, 2011
Open Document
Text Preview

Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined by its usefulness. In maximizing utility and minimizing negative utility, in short it can be defined as pleasure minus pain. Deontology means duty or obligation. This theory was founded by a German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). According to Kant, it is the only way of making moral decisions. Another definition for deontology is that it is an approach to the justification in which priority is given to the fundamental principles (Thompson 2000;364)

Utilitarianism is an act which is right when it promotes happiness and is wrong when it promotes unhappiness. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was the founder of this theory and John Mill (1706-1873) became the advocate. John Bentham (1748-1832) believed that pain and pleasure not only explain our actions but also help us to define what is good and moral. According to Bentham's hedonistic, utilitarianism states that we should always perform the act which leads to great pleasure. In practical how can pleasure be measured in order to be able to compare it with other acts, in order to overcome this problem? Bentham decided to propose the hedonic calcus which focuses on seven features of pleasure. These features are: • Intensity

• Duration
• Certainty
• Proportionality
• Fecundity
• Purity

In order to calculate the pleasure, according to John Betham, the equation could be total pleasure --> potential pain x number of people affected= strength of moral. John Stuart Mill (1706 -1873) decided to expand on the same thing stating that all pleasures were not equal and that there was a difference between the quantity and quality of pleasure. He illustrated the importance of pleasure to human happiness. Some people found pleasure and happiness in acquiring things and participating in activities.

In this paragragh am going to compare and contrast in detail deontology and utilitarianism ethical theories The most important merit of utilitarianism is happiness or pleasure is the main focus. An act is wrong when it makes people unhappy. This theory maybe applied in relation to nursing. For example, the ward manager may promote happiness by giving the nurses a day off on a Christmas day and other nurses may be unhappy as they may have to cover another person's shift on that day. Kant's theory emphasises on doing the duty despite the consequences in this case. Kant's theory is more applicable to the manager to ensure that the ward is well covered on Christmas day. Kant's theory on rights state that an action is wrong if it violates a person's right to life, liberty and property- the pursuit of happiness. One of the merits of deontology the focus is on doing your duty as long as it is morally right. Moral decision can be made regardless of circumstances the rights of the individual cannot be overruled by the rights of the state. As a nurse, I would not agree with Kant's theory as it means it is alright to administer a large dose of morphine as long as it makes the individual happy and the rights of the individual are respected. As a nurse I am accountable for actions as stated by the Nursing Midwifery Council Code of Professional Practice. Jeremy Betham's theory is more concerned with pleasure.

Here are precepts of deontology theory Kant's categorical imperatives(Groundwork of the Metaphysics of morals1785) • Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal. Kant’s message direct to health professional is that our behaviour should be acceptable by the society in which we live and if our behaviour is not accepted then the society will lose trust in the care we deliver, • Act in such that you always treat humanity in you r in your own person or in the person...
tracking img