VIRTUE THEORY, UTILITARIANISM, AND DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS
Ethics in Our Lives
University of Phoenix
Virtue theory, utilitarian, and deontological theories offer different views on how we make different decisions in our lives. Virtue theory focuses primarily on what a specific act says about a person’s moral character, utilitarian theory focuses on how a specific acts affects a large number of people, while deontological theory focuses on if that act is right or wrong based on a set of rules. Ethics in Our Lives
As people our lives are often shaped and molded by what we view as ethical and moral practices. Our level of morality often determines how we will respond when faced with a critical decision. Even if we are unfamiliar with the different types of ethical theories, we both subconsciously and consciously make decisions on what we view as right and wrong behavior through both learned and natural instincts. Virtue theory, utilitarian, and deontological theories offer different views on how we make those decisions.
Virtue theory can be described as acts and habits that lead to happiness in one’s life. It primarily focuses on whether a person is acting on good character and not whether the act itself is good or just. Virtue ethics deemphasizes consequences, rules, and specific acts while focusing on the specific person doing the act. It can be used to determine the rightness or wrongness of an act by relating the choice at hand to what we could consider to be admirable characteristic traits or moral virtues. Those virtues are learned over time leading a person to, in theory, grow into a better person.
Utilitarianism, which is a theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill states that the correct source of action is the one that maximizes the level of happiness for the maximum amount of people. In A Fragment on Government, Bentham says, "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number...
References: Bentham, Jeremy (1776). Fragment on Government. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1891
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