Ethical Systems: Which is Best?
PHI 200 Mind and Machine
Instructor Lisa Linkin
February 4, 2013
* Ethical Systems: Which is Best?
Good, bad, right, wrong…how do we know? Ethics is the study of how we determine what is right or wrong, good or bad (Mosser, 2010). While there are many ethical views, I focused on the three classical approaches for this paper. Utilitarianism states when given a choice between two acts, the one that creates the greater happiness for the greatest number of people is the ethical choice. Deontology stems from obligation or duty. This view takes the position that one has a duty to choose the right or moral act. Virtue ethics focus on the character of the individual rather than the act. If the individual has the proper balance of virtuous characteristics, they are ethical. While all three approaches have merit and all three have weaknesses, I believe that the deontological approach is the most convincing ethical view. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss my view and an opposing view and explain why I have chosen my position.
Let’s start with a more in-depth understanding of deontology. Philosopher Immanuel Kant is most often associated with deontology. The premise for this view ignores the consequence of an action and evaluates only the act. This is not to say that a deontologist denies that actions have consequences, but the consequence does not define whether the act is right or wrong. The act itself is defined as right, wrong or neutral based on a set of moral rules. The individual has an obligation or duty to do the right thing, regardless of the consequences. In other words, what is right takes priority over what is good (Ronzoni, 2010). This may sound harsh, however, I believe it is hard to dispute a right decision. I once heard an adage that I find very true: What is right isn’t always fair and what is fair isn’t always right. In my mind I equate fair with good.
The phrase “regardless of the consequences” is...
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