Ethical theories

Topics: Ethics, Utilitarianism, Morality Pages: 10 (2716 words) Published: November 25, 2014
Differences and Comparisons of Ethics

When we think of ethics, we think of two words, good or bad. Through the history of our world, philosophers and scientists have devised several thoughts that include a system that we are able to use to determine who and what is good or bad.

As a population, we can use these different terms and types of ethical theory to determine which style, form, or behavior of ethics fits with our beliefs and culture. Some of these different types of theories include virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics. Although these all fall into the category of a theory of ethics and may seem to be similar, they are also very different.

When looking at the virtue theory of ethics, we can see that the term character can be used in the place of virtue. According to Ben (2007), the virtue theory has roots that reach back to the time of Plato. Plato, and the virtue theory, suggest that all men and women would be happy if they would only grasp the eternal Form of the Good as his or her criterion.

In contrast to the virtue theory, the utilitarianism theory suggests that a person present or have behavior of good for the entire team or group. One of the problems associated with this theory according to Boylan (2009) is that for any moral theory to work in a group, the group must first come to some terms of a general agreement. Knowing this and thinking on this statement, there are few times in my life where a team or group of people come together on any idea and agree on its entirety.

The deontological theory suggest a contrasting idea to the other two theories, it suggests that there are features within the actions of the individual that determine whether it is right or not. The first theory was about the character of the individual, the second theory was about a group of individuals, this theory involves the actions of a person. The deontological theory also suggests that an individual may believe that good intentions are more important than the results. One personal experience that comes to mind when writing about these theories. Many years ago, I worked for an electrical contractor, his moral concepts and mine were not the same. His idea of running a business was to bid much lower than any other contractor, when in fact, he did get the job, the work he applied was shoddy and the materials were sub-par. He could not perceive the value of the labor that was performed by his employees, he could have simply bid more per job, paid his employees’ wages that fit their position, and used materials that were deemed appropriate. His virtue or company mission statement was; “get the job done as cheaply as possible”. As a businessman I can realize the importance of saving money and using business sense to achieve business directives, however, purposefully paying employees low wages, using non name brand parts and bidding lower than any other contractor for every job is one ethic that I do not agree with. There are seven general ethical categories used in defining the ethical values and morals people follow. Each category has different subsections and expectations for a person’s behavior. A person’s morals and ethical beliefs develop from a mixture of values from these various theories; therefore he or she does not necessarily fit snugly into one category. The top three ethical theories are deontological, utilitarianism, and virtue-based ethics – these are the theories under examination. Deontological Theory Also known as ‘duty-based’, ‘categorical imperative’, and ‘The Golden Rule’, deontology focuses on “decisions about what’s right [based] on broad, abstract universal ethical principles or values such as honesty, promise keeping, fairness, loyalty, rights (to safety, privacy, etc.), justice, responsibility, compassion, and respect for human beings and property” (Treviño, 2011, pg. 42). People following this ethical category believe moral principles outline the necessary obligations...
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