This paper shall attempt to discuss the three main classifications of normative ethics. Virtue theory states focuses on the ethics of character. It focuses more on the character of an individual rather than their actions i.e. on being as opposed to doing. Utilitarianism on the other hand states that the utility of an action determines whether it is right or wrong. Utilitarianism seeks to maximize pleasure as much as possible, and therefore actions that do this are deemed right. Deontology is more focused on the idea of an individual fulfilling their duty in spite of the effect it may have on others. In other words, proponents of deontology argue that as long as the actions of an individual are what they are dutifully meant to do then it is right (Arujo, 2009).
From the above definitions, we can deduce that both deontology and the virtue theory are more focused on the individual rather the actions. The utilitarianism concept is more focused on the outcome of the action. So, for example, if an action that was considered initially wrong ended up yielding results that increased pleasure then that action would be a considered moral (Arujo, 2009).
I will focus on deontological ethics to illustrate how it relates to virtue, value and moral concepts. I will use personal experience to illustrate the same. Values refer to the worth of something. Virtues, on the other hand, are those things that people believe in and consider valuable. An example of virtue is integrity. Morality is basically what is right and wrong.
When I was younger, I received some bit of caning from my parents, particularly my mum. While this was not considered right in the eyes of some of our neighbors, my mother considered it her duty to not only cane me when the need arose but to bring me up in the right way. With this illustration, we can see that my mother considered discipline a virtue, this virtue was brought about by her sense of duty. Furthermore according to deontologists, it is considered moral.
- Araujo, M. (2009). Scepticism, freedom, and autonomy: A study of the moral foundations of Descartes’ theory of knowledge. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.