Ethics Essay

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Virtue ethics Pages: 6 (1063 words) Published: November 15, 2014


Ethics Essay
Bob Griffiths
ETH/316 Ethics and Social Responsibility
April 21, 2014
Ryan Busch
Ethics Essay
Ethics is recognized as a system of moral values, values that affect how people live their lives and make choices. Ethics is the concerned with the examination and study of human actions as it relates to the right and wrongness of these actions. There are several different theories associated with ethics, the purpose of this essay is to briefly describe, compare and discuss the similarities and differences between three ethical theories: virtue ethics, utilitarianism and deontology. Utilitarianism Ethics

The basic tenant of Utilitarianism ethics is that the action one takes is morally right when it is beneficial for the greatest number of people. Another way to express this thought is, “The greatest good for the greatest number of people” (Boylan, 2009, p. 153). When taking these actions the character of the individual defined. Deontological Ethics

This theory emphasizes duty to an action or following rules, because the action itself is inherently right. In addition, the Deontology theory is not concerned with the results of the action; it is the motives behind the action that determine if they are right or wrong. In order to help understand the concept, often a subset of the theory is referenced; called Divine Command Theory. Divine Command Theory states that God’s commands are the source of all ethics and that God is a moral authority, so we should follow and obey his commands. Therefore, Gods commands are inherently right, so we must follow them. Virtue Ethics

The central theme of Virtue Ethics is that we should cultivate and strive for excellence in all that we do. The theory is not concerned with the results of the action. In other words, as long as you are achieving is excellence there is no difference between the achievement of good or bad. In addition, the theory takes into account the persona and character of a person over the long view of history. It makes allowance for mistakes in judgment; as long as they are not consistently part of a person’s habits of character. Comparing Theories

Next we will examine and compare a few simplistic thoughts on the three major theories previously described. Virtue Ethics stresses the virtues of striving for excellence, taking action regardless of the consequences, based on moral character. In contrast, Deontology focuses on the duties and motivation behind the action taken. Deontology is not concerned with the results of the action; it is the motives behind the action that matter. In other words is the action itself must be inherently right. Utilitarian points out that the results of the action must be taken into account and that the action must be for the good of the majority of people. Another way to compare the ideas is to look at the different ways they consider the actions taken. For proponents of the Utilitarian theory, it is the taking action for the good of all that defines the character of the person. In the case of Deontology, it is the motives behind taking action that matter; it is the following of rules that define the character. And for Virtue Ethics it is a matter of an action that creates excellence and achievement that define the character. The Relationship between Virtue, Values and Moral Concepts

The idea of virtue, values and moral concepts are interconnected and often it is difficult to identify one from the other. Virtues are those internal qualities or positive traits that are thought of as excellent or morally good. Morals are those principles or habits which are thought to reflect the right and wrong of conduct by the majority of people. Morals are defined by external sources while virtues come from the inner person. Values are a set of measurements that serve as the foundation for a moral compass upon which action is taken. Personal Experience

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