Deontological vs. Teleological Ethical Systems

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Wouldn’t the world be so much easier if we all agreed on what was moral and what was not? Unfortunately, each person will differ in their moral beliefs and what one may consider to be moral, someone else may not. Having different opinions does not mean that one particular person is right and the other wrong, but the law is a different story. Regardless what our own personal beliefs are, the law is the law and certain moral standards have been set.

Ethical formalism is considered to be a “…Deontological system because the important determinant for judging whether an act is moral is not its consequence, but only the motive or intent of the actor.” (Thompson & Wadsworth, 2005) This means that if someone is doing something for the good will, but the outcome results in bad consequence, it is still considered to be a moral action. If someone has an alternative motive, like expecting something in return, then the act is not moral.

A good example of a teleological ethical system would be utilitarianism. This is where “…Morality of an action should be determined by how much it contributes to the good of the majority.” (Thompson & Wadsworth, 2005) If one person, who was actually innocent, was found guilty of a crime to provide an example of crime deterrence, this would be utilitarianism. This theory does not care if one has to suffer, just as long as it would provide a good outcome for the majority.

Personally, I believe that religion falls into the deontological category. Deontological can be interpreted as no matter how much good comes from lying, the action will never be right. Even though religion can fall into many categories, they all boil down to either God’s will or living a good life. Deontological vs. Teleological 3 Many of the religions have their own interpretation of what I believe is the “Golden Rule”, which is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto...
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