Ethical Theories

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Deontological ethics Pages: 3 (1071 words) Published: January 15, 2013
Deontology and Utilitarianism are the two most dominant theories which forms the foundations of ethical analysis, because they are the viewpoints from which guidance can be obtained along the pathway to an optimum decision. Each theory emphasizes different points such as predicting the outcome and following one’s duties to others in order to reach an ethically correct decision. However, in order for an ethical theory to be useful, the theory must be directed towards a common set of goals. Ethical principles are the common goals that each theory tries to achieve in order to be successful. These goals include: Beneficence, Least Harm, Respect for Autonomy and Justice.

Deontology is an alternative ethical system that is usually attributed to the philosophical tradition of Immanuel Kant. It demands that actions, or means, themselves must be ethical. It argues further that there are excellent ethical norms and truths that are generally applicable to all people, beside, some actions are immoral regardless of their outcomes. Kant gives a 'categorical imperative' to act morally at all times and demands that individuals should act as though their actions would be made universal into a general rule of nature. It again believes that all people come to moral conclusions about right and wrong based on rational thought as it is moderately associated with the saying that 'the means must justify the ends.' Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is an ethical system that is most often attributed to philosophers such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Utilitarianism believes that the most ethical thing to do is to maximize the happiness within a society. It focuses on the outcomes or ends of actions. Utilitarianism is thus often considered a ‘consequentialist’ ethical outlook because it both believes that actions can be predicted and judged based on their outcomes. Thus, utilitarianism is often associated with the phrase ‘the ends justify the...
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