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Deontology Essay

686 words - 3 pages

Utilitarianism: Utilitarianism is an ethical system that is most often attributed to philosophers such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Utilitarianism believes that the most ethical thing to do is to maximize the happiness within a society. Utilitarians believe that actions have calculable outcomes and that ethical choices have outcomes which lead to the most happiness to the most members of a society. Utilitarianism is thus often considered a 'consequentialist' philosophical outlook because it both believes that outcomes can be predicted and because it judges actions based on their outcomes. Thus, utilitarianism is often associated with the phrase 'the ends justify the means.'

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You have no doubts about the veracity of the villain's threats; you believe fully that she will do as she says she will. Therefore, you have two options. The first option is to kill one of the ten people to save the lives of the other nine. The other option is to do nothing and watch the villain kill all ten people. Utilitarians would most likely conclude that you should kill the one person because it has the most beneficial outcome. Deontologists would most likely conclude that you should not kill the one person because killing another person is wrong as a universal moral truth.

Utilitarianism's answers to deontology: Utilitarianism's first answer to deontology is to say that there are no 'universal moral truths.' Such truths are difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain. On the other hand, the benefits and disadvantages of actions are much more easily calculated. Thus, rather than relying on amorphous, vague moral truths to guide action we should look to more concrete ways of determining the ethics of a particular act. Also, utilitarianism would argue that deontology leads to morally untenable outcomes, such...

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