Write a 350- to 700-word essay comparing the similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics. Include the following in your essay:
- Utilitarianism ethics – what is the definition?, ethical thinker associated with theory, decision-making process, and Workplace example
- Deontological Ethics: what is the definition?, ethical thinker associated with theory, decision-making process, and Workplace example
- Virtue Ethics: what is the definition?, ethical thinker associated with theory, decision-making process, and Workplace example
- A description of the differences in how each theory addresses ethics and morality
- A personal experience to explain the relationship between virtue, values, and moral concepts as they relate to one of the three theories
Philosophies of Ethics
Ethics in philosophy has long been regarded as a special area of interest by academics given that it encompasses several schools of thought: all displaying a broad and diverse outlook. Yet, a common theme shared by these philosophies is their focus on the existential question of separating right from wrong. Philosophies of ethics, therefore, explore the nature of morality from multiple viewpoints, attempting to elaborate on the actual nature of morality as we know it, and examining the manner in which it affects our lives on a variety of levels. The existing categories also attempt to put meta-physics into perspective as one of the most reliable methods to employ when attempting to understand morality, justice, and truth in the context of society. Today, Virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics are the main categories often explored within the context of philosophies of ethics.
Virtue ethics is a prominent category within the philosophy of ethics derived from both Eastern and Western philosophical tenets. Major aspects of virtue ethics are drawn from the teachings of prominent independent thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Mencius, and Confucius; known for their prolific contribution to the philosophy of ethics. At the very core of virtue ethics is the idea that morality is directly related to the inner cultivation of virtue and character in man and the subsequent impact they have on our lives. This idea was developed with the initial aim of improving our overall understanding of character development within the context of consensus reality in society and the formation of innate morality and thoughts (Swanton, 2021). The philosophy of virtue ethics, therefore, assumes that aspects of the newly formed moral compass are primarily responsible for the variety of behaviors displayed by humanity today. Furthermore, virtue ethics contends that consensus reality compels us to act in a manner that is socially acceptable based on our recognition of social customs and norms within our societies unlike the ideas of consequential action posited in utilitarianism.
Today, virtue ethics is known for its insistence on the importance of innate character development in inculcating “natural virtue” as the foundation of proper social customs. However, Thomas (2011)argues that certain cross-sections of society may fail to implement virtue ethics successfully into their lives if they happen to be consumed by malicious intentions, insatiable greed, hypocrisy, or inexperience during their development. The subsequent grooming and nurturing of virtue ethics is, therefore, meant to help us to develop a clear and resolute sense of right and wrong as a gateway for proper behavior in society and is quite similar to virtue ethics in this respect (Driver, 2013).
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At the present moment, virtue ethics is widely applied in the workplace environment in guiding the behavior and demeanor of staff operating within different levels of the more incredible organizational structure. Employees are fully aware that vices such as corruption and inappropriate sexual contact are unacceptable within the workplace environment, regardless of individual and cultural determinations. It is, thus, widely accepted that originators of virtue ethics sought to promote the rise of universal morality in society given the multiplicity of viewpoints and cultural diversity evident today.
Utilitarianism is a noteworthy category of the existing philosophies of ethics known for advocating for individuals’ focus on the “greater good” in any given situation. The main objective of this philosophical perspective is to ensure that any given action performed maximizes the benefits for the wider society. It is for this very reason that the application of utilitarianism is common within legal circles given that it is regarded as a useful tool in developing appropriate codes of conduct. Classical utilitarianism was developed by John Stuart-Mill and Jeremy Bentham who are, arguably, the most influential thinkers in Western culture (Doyle, 2012). Theirs was an attempt to develop a philosophy of ethics focusing squarely on novel ideas such as consequential and ultimately using them as a basis for guiding human action and quite similar to virtue ethics. This approach seeks to maximizes benefits for the greatest number of people in society while forming the basic conditions for pain and pleasure.
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The overall application of utilitarian ethics is also based on the idea that the measure of good derived from action should benefit the greater population without discrimination. Practical applications of utilitarian ethics are also associated with the theme of quantitative utilitarianism known for its focus on maximizing the benefits of an action while, simultaneously, minimizing the stress or possible negative blow-back associated with its application. While detractors of the utilitarian school of thought have criticized it for being “superficial” in its handling of matters associated with morality, proponents of this idea champion its use as a matter of practicality and ease of application.
Utilitarianism is also thought to promote the notion of individual freedom as a practical guide towards promoting the creation of societies guided by equity and bolstered by attempts geared towards protecting society. For instance, utilitarianism is evident in today’s workplace environment where employers voluntarily implement and abide by codes and standards outlined under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Such actions ensure the application of a level of transparency and reliability based solely on attempts to maximize the greater good of the wider employee population while also taking their well-being into account.
The origins of deontological ethics can be traced back to humanity’s initial attempts to demystify individuals’ place in society and the overall duty ethics within this particular perspective. Ideas commonly associated with deontological ethics were first popularized by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, motivated by their biblical origins and practical application in a real-life capacity (Denis, 2018). Kant was particularly interested in the application of this ethical approach on a rules-based order in society while also considering the benefits likely to accrue from its application in a professional setting. One of the most outstanding differences between deontological ethics and the above-mentioned utilitarian school of thought, is that the former opposes the institution of explicit moral requirements for ethics. Moreover, deontological ethics also opposes the use and application of arbitrary systems of moral virtue since they do not hold any form of moral authority over individuals and are, therefore, unable to restrict human behavior.
Deontological ethics is, however, seems quite similar to ideas held by virtue ethics given that both attempt to clarify the position and application of moral behavior. This is often cited as the main reason why deontological ethics is rarely associated with controversies associated with its application in a practical sense given the degree of philosophical superiority it seemingly projects. Fewer complications, therefore, arise from its use and application in society today given its low profile for emerging complications and in determining the types of positions likely to influence human intuition in the long haul (Palmer, 2020). Additionally, deontological ethics is also quite similar to virtue ethics in the manner in which it cedes authority with regard to the application of authority as a guide in assessing some of the most beneficial human behaviors known today. It also provides an expansive view of human morality based on an extensive form of inquiry designed to prove its viability as a categorical imperative among a wide array of ethical philosophies.
Philosophies of ethics, such as virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics, attempt to improve our overall view of normative ethics as one of the best available ways of answering what we ought to do in life today. Apart from this crucial objective, they also serve some of the most useful frameworks available today for distinguishing right from wrong. Applied ethics is also critical throughout this particular process given that it helps us navigate the contemporary society in which we currently live while tackling major practical issues known to be of major moral importance today. An in-depth evaluation of each of the aforementioned categories is, therefore, fundamental in improving our overall understanding of select inherent similarities and differences and practical application in today’s fast-paced work environment.