Ethics is the beliefs by which people determine if their actions are appropriate or inappropriate, states Boylan (2009). As people are similar in some ways and different in other ways, so are the ethical theories that determine their actions. Each theory will be defined and the similarities and differences of the theories of deontology, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics will be discussed.
The deontology theory is based on the idea that people have an obligation or duty to take certain actions or not to take certain actions (Boylan, 2009). Whereas, a parent has a moral obligation to take care of his or her own child but no obligation to take care of another person’s child, ethically, deontology demands that people meet their obligations or duties as commanded by law. In deontology, ethics and morals tend to overlap as ethics identify those actions believed to be morally correct. Those who believe the deontology theory determine the actions they should take as identified by moral law, and they take those actions regardless of any consequences.
The utilitarianism theory is in direct contrast to the deontology theory in that utilitarianism supports the idea that if an action contributes to happiness or satisfaction for the majority of people, the action is correct, reports Boylan (2009). In addition, utilitarianism theorizes that if an action causes pain or displeasure for the majority of people, the action is incorrect. Utilitarianism may not always be ethical or moral. For example, if the majority of the people attending a party find happiness in partaking in illegal drugs or in drinking too much alcohol and then drive home from the party, these actions are neither ethical nor moral.
Boylan (2009) contends the virtue theory is based...