October 13, 2014
As a child, one is taught what is right and wrong and receives rewards or consequences for actions dealing with either. Parents mold children into having morals and values, but as an adult, ethics starts to play a huge part as well. The saying “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is engrained in a person’s head, but how does a person decide what kind of adult they want to be? What guides them? Ideas such as virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics can help mold a person into the character they want to be; although all three ideas are very different. “Virtue-based ethical theories place less emphasis on which rules people should follow and instead focus on helping people develop good character traits, such as kindness and generosity” (Cline, 2014). These character traits allow a person to make the correct decisions later in life and head on the path toward being a good person. The virtue theory focuses more on the characteristics of what make a good person and how one can become a good person based on their decisions. This theory is not based on actions like the utilitarianism theory is. Utilitarianism theory is based on the idea that an act is right because it makes people happy or wrong because it makes people angry or upset. This theory is based on the actions of a person and what the result is from those actions. Unfortunately, this theory is not for the individual and what he or she thinks is right or wrong, but what society thinks and how it makes them feel. It is normal to sacrifice the individual’s morals for the right of the group. This does not make this theory very popular. The opposite side to this theory is deontological ethics. Utilitarianism focuses more on what is right for the group whereas deontological ethics focuses on the duty of a person. With deontological ethics, it is not the consequence of the act that makes it right or wrong, but the consequence helps the person determine if they are using the right action to perform the duty. According to Moreland (2009), “consequences help us find what our duty is, they are not what make something our duty” (para. 11). This theory follows the “do the right thing” idea. It teaches that some acts are right or wrong because of the sorts of act they are, and people have a duty to act accordingly, regardless of the good or bad consequences that may be produced. These three types of ideas address ethics and morality differently. Virtue based ethics helps a person become a good person by following the ethics they were taught and by using their personal morals. This lets the person decide how to be good based on his or her beliefs. Utilitarianism does not help a person be good by using their morals and ethics, but they are considered good based on if their consequences make other happy or not. Deontological ethics does not address a person’s morals and ethics because “it does not attempt to define which acts are moral and which are not; it simply teaches that some acts are always good, and some acts are always bad” (Moreland, 2009). Based on these differences, one would be drawn to virtue ethics because the person can use their beliefs to define themselves. As an IT technician, the author’s job requires visiting different Taco Bell locations to repair equipment. On one occasion, the author witnessed illegal drugs being used by a crew member while on duty. The author took pictures of the crew member and notified the area manager of the situation so it could be resolved. It was not the author’s responsibility to report what was witnessed, but based on his moral values, he knew a person should not have illegal drugs at work, and decided to turn this person in. The author did this knowing the crew member would be fired, but could not ignore what he knew was wrong. The author had to decide whether an individual’s job...
References: Cline, A. (2014). Virtue ethics: morality and character. Retrieved from
Moreland, J.P. (2009, April). Ethics theories: utilitarianism vs. deontological ethics.
Retrieved from http://www.equip.org/articles/ethics-theories-utilitarianism-vs
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