Ethical Theory

Topics: Ethics, Virtue ethics, Virtue Pages: 2 (553 words) Published: August 31, 2013
Ethical Theory Examination

Ethical Theory Examination
An action can be considered ethical or unethical depending on the perspective. There are three main theories of ethics: virtue, utilitarianism, and deontology. Each theory uses different criteria to determine if an action is ethical. Although the idea of performing ethical actions is similar, each theory follows a different approach. The virtue theory of ethics determines what is right and wrong based upon how it will affect one’s character. Essentially, an action will be considered ethical if it is a “noble” action (Boylan, 2009). This theory can best be described by relating it to medieval knights of fairytales. In these stories, knights would take the noble action to maintain the purity of their character. Utilitarianism ethics focus more on the consequences of an action to determine if it is ethical. According to this theory, the best and ethical course of action to take is the solution that provides the best consequences for the group or community (Boylan, 2009). This theory places the needs of the group above the needs of the individual. If there is more than one solution to a problem, the most ethical solution would be the one that provides the greatest good for the community. The theory of deontology bases its ethical code on the adherence to an established set of guidelines (Boylan, 2009). The right action is not decided based on consequences or how it will affect character, but rather on the principles of whether the action is right or wrong. There is no gray area in deontology. An action is evaluated on the action alone, not on why it was performed. These three theories can be explained with a simple example; a situation arises requiring a person to either tell the truth or to tell a lie. Individuals who follow the virtue theory will examine how telling a lie will affect their character. Maintaining honesty is generally considered more noble than lying, so the individual will...

References: Boylan, M. (2009). Basic Ethics (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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