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Ethical Theories Essay

673 words - 3 pages

Ethical Theories
Ethical theories can be best described as someone’s viewpoint on how you should base a decision. When I was young, decisions were made for me based on someone else’s beliefs of right and wrong. As I grew older and was still under my parents ruling, my decisions were influenced by family, their religion and society. Living on my own I started to base my decisions on my own life experiences, including my twenty years in the military. My thoughts and decisions are always changing in order to fit the situation. In order to try and understand the reasons why decisions are made, the ethical principles behind them must be explained. For that we need to start at the very basic, what is ethics?
According to the article, “What is Ethics?” ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. (2010,p6) Ethical ...view middle of the document...

It depends on the situation and the decision I have to make on how I will decide to instill the principles. I don’t think about the principles when actually making a decision, I go with my analysis of the situation and the best outcome for it. Although this sounds good in theory it does not mean I always make the best decisions. These principles will lead us to compare at least three ethical theories. The three ethical theories are virtue theory, utilitarianism and deontological.
In order to compare each of the theories and address how each affect morality, I will define them the way I best understand each of them. Virtue theory is when we judge a person by his/her character. Utilitarianism is when we make a choice that will benefit either the greater good or the most people. Deontological is when we uphold our obligation to an individual or society because we feel it is our duty that comes first. Each theory is different in the outcome of a decision. With virtual theory your decision will be based on what you believe the character of that person to be, as opposed to utilitarianism where it does not matter the character, it will be based for the greater good of the majority, not an individual. Whereas deontological does not take into consideration greater good nor character, but your duty to an individual or society.
When I was in the military, I followed the deontological theory the most. I was sent overseas to perform a duty that I never thought I would unless told to. I followed orders, but it’s more than that after a while. I believed that my duty was solely responsible for maintaining our society. When I retired, my decisions weren’t based on duty but a little from each theory.
Ethical theories are just that theories. Not one is better than the other. In order for me to make the best decision, I have to utilize a variety of ethical theories. It is when we understand the theories individually we can appreciate them as a whole.

Josephson, M. (December 17, 2010). Business Ethics & Leadership. Retrieved from
Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, S.J., T., & Meyer, M. J. (2010). What is Ethics? Retrieved from

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