Virtue ethics, which are also called virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics are principles that individuals use to guide their actions. These principles can be moral decisions. Moral decisions are those made by what an individual perceives as right or wrong. The decisions can also be non-moral in nature, which pertains to an individual’s desire to improve themselves or a group/team affiliation for the greater good.
The idea that an individual should strive for excellence, both moral and non-moral, in the way they live their life are the principles behind virtue ethics (Boylan, p. 133-134, 2009). When we think about how we should act around and treat others we are examining our moral virtues. Alternatively, the non-moral ethics we employ could be reflected in our work ethic. By studying hard, doing ...view middle of the document...
153, 2009). For example, a team of employees at a consulting company are asked to develop a business plan for a client. Each member submits a suggestion. One plan may turn out to be the obvious choice, which will benefit the client the most. However, by voting for someone else’s plan the team members are turning down a chance to take credit and possibly get a promotion and a raise. By making the sacrifice and choosing the better plan they are giving the team, the company and the client the best chance for success. It is the good of the team, or in this case the company, that outweighs the good of the individuals.
The third principle is deontological ethics, which govern an individual that believes an action is one’s duty and therefore right. According to Boylan (2009), deontology is a moral theory where the duty of an individual to do something makes the action morally right (p. 171). An example of this is the duty of an executioner to throw the switch and electrocute a convicted felon. The executioner fulfills his duty to kill the condemned felon because it is his duty to do so even though the act of intentionally electrocuting someone may be morally wrong. It is the same for a police officer, whose duty is to uphold the law and protect the citizens. His duty to do just that may be to shoot and kill a citizen to protect everyone else. The theory of deontology helps establish a solution to these moral paradoxes.
Though the general consensus for many of these conundrums may be similar, in the end these ethical decisions are going to depend on each individual weighing the potential outcomes against their own moral barometers. The decisions made by a Buddhist monk may be very different than an 18 year old American kid pulling his first tour of duty in the Middle East when both are placed in similar situations.
Boylan, M. (2009). Basic ethics (2nd ed.). Retrieved from the University of Phoenix
eBook Collection database.