Deontological vs. Teleological Ethical Systems

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Deontological theories identify various duties and rights. Duties and obligations have been classified under several categories and they include duties to God, oneself and others. Those others include family, social and political duties. Basic rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are considered to be natural, universal, equal, and inalienable. The focus of deontological theories is on moral duties or obligations rather than on moral value or goodness. Intentions play a significant role in determining whether an act is ethical. (Ethics: Survey and Observations July 23, 2003) Consequentialist (teleological) theories determine ethical behavior by weighing the consequences of an action. The good and bad consequences of an action are tallied and if the total good consequences outweigh the total bad consequences, then the action are ethically proper. Therefore an action is ethical if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable with respect to some criteria. Criteria include affected groups and the dimension of time. Three criteria with respect to agents have been suggested. These criteria are Ethical egoism: only consequences to the entity performing the action are considered, Ethical altruism: only consequences to everyone except the agents performing the action are considered and Utilitarianism: the consequences to everyone of an act or rule are considered. (Ethics: Survey and Observations July 23, 2003) The focus is on moral value or goodness rather than on moral duties or obligations. An action's consequences (what is good) are more important than on moral obligations (what is right). Human nature and experience determine what the good is. Social contract theory is a consequentialist theory in which morality is defined by a set of rules accepted by rational people for their mutual benefit. (Ethics: Survey and Observations July 23, 2003)

1.The focus is on moral duties or what is right.
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