There are three major approaces in normative ethics including virtue ethics, deontological ethics, and utilitarianism. This paper is going to compare the similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics. It will include a description of the differences in how each theory addresses ethics and morality and it will also discuss an experience to explain the relationship between virtue, values, and moral concepts as they relate to one of the three theories.
Differences In How These Theories Address Ethics and Morality Virtue ethics, deontological ethics, and utilitarianism are the three major approaches in normative ethics. Virtue ethics emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, while deontology emphasizes duties or rules, and utilitarianism emphasizes the consequences of actions. Virtue ethics is also called agent-based or character ethics. According to Boylan (2009), when using the virtue ethics approach, one should take the viewpoint that in living their life they should try to cultivate excellence in all that they do. It encourages people to develop their character as the basis for the good life. Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome. Utilitarianism suggests that an action is morally right when that action produces more total utility for the group than any other alternative (Boylan, 2009). Deontological ethics judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to a rule or rules. This form of ethics uses rules and duties to determine what is “right”. Deontological ethics is opposed to consequentialism. Deontology maintains the wrongness of actions resides in the kind of action that it is, rather than the consequences it brings about. A deontologist, for example, would find the act of killing an innocent man wrong simply because it is the killing of an...
References: Boylan, M. (2009). Basic ethics (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hursthouse, R. (2010). Virtue Ethics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition).
Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/encyclopedia/archinfo.cgi?entry=ethics-virtue
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