Utilitarianism, deontological, and virtue theory ethics are three normative approaches to ethics. This paper will go over the similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological principles. It will include information of the variations in how each concept details ethics, morality, and it will also discuss a personal experience to describe the correlation between virtue, values, and moral perceptions as they relate to one of the three theories.
Similarities and Differences
Virtue theory emphasizes character traits rather than the rules or consequences while deontology is described as an action that is right only if it is in accordance with a moral rule or principle.
Utilitarianism puts more emphasis on the consequences and that decisions should be made based on happiness for the greatest number of people.
Virtue theory does not judge a person as good (or not) based upon one single action in their lives. Rather, it takes a look over time to judge ones character. Virtue theory also looks at past mistakes that are not normally in a person’s historical nature.
For example, a virtuous person is someone who is kind across many situations over a lifetime because that is their character and not because they want to maximize utility or gain favors or simply do their duty (“Virtue,” 2010).
Utilitarianism usually relies on predicting the consequences of an action. Utilitarianism sets that an action is morally right when the action produces more total utility for the group than any other alternative (Boylan, Chapter 12, 2009). In this ethical theory, the consequences should fully be considered, as it will affect the most people.
Deontological ethical theory places more weight on the adherence to obligations and duties when analyzing an ethical dilemma. This emphasis is placed on the action itself rather than the outcome of an action. Religious denominations practice this ethical theory because rules, such as the Ten Commandments are meant to be followed.
Virtue ethics focuses on the benefits, or ethical personality, whereas deontology focuses on responsibilities or guidelines. Utilitarianism focuses on the repercussions of activities. Virtue ethics is also called agent-based or personality ethics. When using the quality principles approach, one should take the point of view that in living their lifestyle they should try growing quality in all that they do (Boylan, Chapter 11, 2009). Utilitarianism is a way of consequentialism; significance that the ethical worth of an activity is established by its results. Utilitarianism indicates that an activity is fairly right when that activity generates more total application for the group than any other alternative (Boylan, Chapter 12, 2009). Deontological principles mostly judge the activity, depending on the action’s sticking with a concept or guidelines. This principle uses guidelines and responsibilities to determine what is “right.” Deontology preserves the wrongness of activities in the kind of activity that it is, rather than the repercussions it triggers.
The fundamental principle of the military is a typical representation of utilitarianism. From when one takes the oath of enlistment to the final day of active duty, the Navy instills the importance of virtues, values, and the correct moral actions. The virtue of the Navy is characteristic to an all-volunteer force serving today. Specifically, to be accepted and to serve in the military is an honor. I believe it is seen as a privilege from those serving to represent and defend our country. The value is shown in the Navy’s core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. These simple principles give Navy members a focus and demonstrate their worth to the organization. The moral concept of protecting the countries national interests through the utilization of military force is yet another inherent part of the United States Navy. As a military organization, the Navy falls in line with the utilitarianism theory because it is the daily mission that calls for accomplishing what is right for this nation.
Ethical development is necessary to our culture. The similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological began with defining each on their own values. In addition, my personal experience addresses how each theory identifies ethics and morality in relation to personal experiences with virtue, values, and moral concepts for a United States Navy service member.