ETH/316-Ethics and Social Responsibility
September 27, 2012
When individuals are asked their ideas of ethics, each individual will generate a different opinion or idea based on their personal beliefs. One must ask his or her self, what is ethics? Michael Boylan, author of Basic Ethics, defines ethics as a science concerning the “right and wrong” of human action (Boylan, 2009). In this paper, the examination of ethical theories virtue, utilitarianism, and deontology ethics and their similarities and differences will be explored.
Virtue ethics is also called “agent based” or character ethics. It takes the long look at one’s character and is somewhat forgiving of an occasional slipup that is not in consonance with that person’s historical character (2009). Utilitarianism is the theory of what is morally right when that action produces more total utility for the group than any other alternative. There are two types of utilitarianism, act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. In act utilitarianism, a person performs the act that’s the most beneficial, regardless of personal feelings or laws. Rule utilitarianism, takes into account what is fair. Finally, deontology is a moral theory that emphasizes one’s duty to do a particular action just because the action, itself, is inherently right and not through any other sorts of calculations (2009). Looking at the details of each ethical theory, one may base their decision of which ethical theory to apply based on the ethical dilemma, but in similarity each theory points to the same goal: to reach the most ethically correct resolution, when trying to obtain the best decision for the dilemma.
Each ethical theory does have its frailness, which brings out the differences. Virtue ethics, unlike utilitarianism and deontology does not take into consideration a person’s change in moral character. For example, a person who may have committed fraudulent crimes in the...