Theories of Ethics
A good example of this would be an athlete that has been playing for his hometown team since college, and has an offer to go and play for a team that is much better, but realizes that if he was to leave that his team would be left for the wolves. A person that believes in the utilitarianism theory would stay and play for the team money aside, because they love the game and knows that the team needs them, therefore putting the good of the team before their own good.
Utilitarianism theory “suggests that an action is morally right when that an action produces more total utility for the group than any other alternative” (M. Boylan pg 153). Deontology is a moral theory that dictates the action, just because the action itself is inherently right, without the use of any other calculations. Take the consequences of the action for example. Deontology is sometimes referenced with utilitarianism, because it is designed to bring about the greatest aggregate utility.
This is where we see the difference between deontology and utilitarianism, as deontology is based on principle. The principle is justified through an understanding of the structure of action, and do not justify itself by calculating consequences. Deontology is based on moral commands, and not being concerned with the consequences, whereas utilitarianism takes the consequences into consideration, and does what is best for everyone, knowing how the consequences will affect everyone. Deontology is based off of musts. What must we do?
It can be divided into two sorts of duties, such as prohibitions, and obligations. Prohibitions are things that we shouldn’t do, or things that are against the law, and obligations are things that we are expected or required to do. Morality in this case is free game, as it allows the person to do whatever they want to do. Virtue theory is often referred to as character ethics. The viewpoint of virtue ethics is that one should try to cultivate excellence in all that you do and that all others do. In simple terms I like to reference this to living like the Jones’s.
Virtue theory has a couple different ways of looking at things, such as do we look at a person based on a single instance or is the proper way to look at this person overtime, or look at history before making a judgment in regards to this persons character. One example that I would use is our beloved Denver Broncos. The Broncos have what is called the ring of fame, it is where great players from the team, are recognized and their jersey number retired and their jersey added to the ring of fame. This is something that does not happen overnight.
The Broncos look at past performances and take in account all the things this player has done over their career, before making the decision of adding them to the ring of fame. Sometimes this person has been retired for some time before their name is added. A personal experience that explains virtue, values, and moral concepts as they relate to one of the three theories is as follows. I have recently been looking for new employment, as my current employment is what I would call very unethical, and abuse of taxpayers’ money, which falls below my values, and morals.
I was offered a new job, in which I could have started immediately, but I choose to use my utilitarianism side, and tell my new employer that I needed to give my current employer two weeks’ notice, and finish up some outstanding work. I felt this was not only in the best interest of me, but the best interest of my team of coworkers. If I would of choose to leave right away I would have been going against my morals and what I believed was right to do in this particular situation.