Ethics and Universally Accepted Codes

8 August 2016

VirtueethicsIn Defense of Deontology (Non-Consequentialism) Consequentialism and deontology are two different theories concerning with morality. Consequentialism believes in the concept of the ends justifies the means. On the other hand, deontology does not believe in this concept. It believes that right actions are defined by duty. Deontology is the opposite of consequentialism when it comes to moral ethics, making it the better approach. Deontology is a non-consequentialist theory. Deontologists claim that the rightness of an action should not be solely dependent on maximizing the good, even if that action goes against what is ethically right.

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For example, there are four critical conditioned patients in a hospital who each need a different organ to survive. A healthy man comes into the hospital for a regular check-up. Would you kill the healthy man to save the four? According to consequentialism, the doctor should take the healthy man’s organs to save the others, thus maximizing the good. Deontology objects to this way of thinking by arguing that it is immoral to kill an innocent regardless of the fact that it maximizes the good. Consequentialism does not respect rights and is too broad.

Deontology judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of people, rather than the goals achieved. We cannot predict the future and that is the reason why we must shift away from consequences to duties. Deontologists do care for the outcomes of our actions, but as far as moral evaluation, our actions are concerned not our consequences. We must be able to do what we would allow or want others to do. If the rule governing our action is not capable of being universalized, then it is not acceptable. Many would call this the “golden rule.

However, they are wrong because the golden rule claims to do to others what you would like them to do to you, which involves self- interest. The deontology rule actually claims that if you cannot incline everyone to follow the same rule you are following then the rule is not moral. For example, killing an innocent to save four would say that it is okay to murder. It is obvious that it is wrong and unethical because the innocent should never be murdered, even if it would create the maximum happiness. What matters is that we do what is right.

According to the consequentialism principle, the correct action will produce the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. In order to achieve the greatest amount of good, some people have to be stepped on. It is usually those who are at the disadvantage end. For example, slavery was good for the majority of the people, since they were white and owned slaves, but it was not good for the slaves. It violated their human rights in order to create the greatest happiness for the whites. While consequentialism sees the benefits, deontology sees these actions as unfair and unjust because they violate the basic human rights.

One can conclude that the deontological moral theory provides a strong base for making correct decisions and is a better ethics system than the consequential moral theory. Deontology takes the universally accepted codes of conduct into account and supports that both action and consequence have to be ethical. On the other hand, consequentialism does not take the universally accepted codes of conduct into account. It is concern with the idea that an action’s morality is solely determined by its contribution to happiness.

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