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Leaving the Cave

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DEONTOLOGY

Deontology is a form of philosophy centered around the principles of eighteenth

century philosopher Immanuel Kant. Its name comes from the Greek words deon and logos,

meaning the study of duty. The basis of deontology is to assess a person’s character by how well

he or she follows moral rules, even if by doing so, tragic results occur. It is in direct contrast to

consequentialism, a form of ethics that determines the morality of actions by the results they

produce. Consequentialism takes the Good over the Right, but deontology always advocates the

Right over the Good. The deontological model of ethics determines the correctness of a moral

action by determining if it follows moral norms. There is no subjectivity and a moral rule is

always be obeyed without any thought. For instance, Kant gave the example that it is wrong to lie

even if it could save a person’s life. The agent-centered theory of deontology states that people’s

choices are determined by personal obligation and permission. For instance, a parent is obligated

to treat his or her child as more important than other people; however, other adults have no

obligation to treat that parent’s child any differently than anyone else. Since people can have

personal obligations that are different from other people’s, they also have permission to protect

their obligations at the expense of others. In this theory, a parent has permission to save his or

her own child even if it means causing negative or tragic consequences for other people’s

children. Critics of this theory believe it promotes narcissistic behaviors because its purpose is to

keep personal agendas in check at the expense of others.

The patient-centered theory centers around the rights of individuals rather than personal duty. It states that individuals have the right to not be used for moral good against their wills. For instance, a murderer cannot be killed...