Ethics in the Real World: Utilitarianism and Deontology

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Kant = Deontology

Ethics in the real world are quite difficult to explain and defend. Ethics came from the word “ethos,” ethos in turn means “character.” Character is determined through life experience, obstacles, temptations, frustrations, inner struggles, and dilemmas. Every single human has to cope with these, but our character is how we deal with them. The decisions through life where we decide what is right or wrong, yet, we all learn differently and chose what we consider “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “evil”. It emphasizes what is the right thing to do rather than what is good thing to do. Philosophical theories have been created to prove ethical thinking and conduct. Utilitarianism and Deontology are the two major theories which try to prove the ethics of conduct; however, Deontology is the one that seems to make most sense.

Picture a man harboring Jews in his attic during the Holocaust era, then out of nowhere, a Nazi officer knocks on the door asking the man if he had seen any Jews. The man is in a conflict with his inner thoughts. Should he tell the officer “no” because you know the outcome for the Jews and would not do that to a fellow human. The other decision he could pick, would be to respond “yes”. The man can think, “If it is okay to lie now, then it should be okay to lie in other situations. It should never be okay to lie.” This is deontology. Deontology theorists like Immanuel Kant believed that the only way to be morally correct would be to follow rules or laws which established what is right and what is wrong. This means that the consequences of an action should never take part in any kind of moral judgment. Considering the Man in the scenario was to choose the second option; to tell the officers of the Jews’ location, there would be strong feelings for and against his decision. Today’s society would shun him, and look down upon him for giving up humans to death; however, Immanuel Kant would view it differently. He would consider this...
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