September 22, 2014
There are quite a few similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics when it comes to ethics and morality. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between each realm of ethics in everyday decisions. Ethics are a set of “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is good and bad. “ (Hacker, 2014).
Virtue ethics or virtue theory focuses on a person’s character and determines their ethical behavior. Virtue ethics is one of the three normative ethics approaches. Virtue ethics looks at the moral character of a person’s actions. It was founded sometime in 400’s B.C. by Greek philosophers Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. The three main strands of virtue ethics are Eudaimonism, ethics of care, and agent- based theories (Mastin, 2008).
Utilitarianism is “the view that what we ought to do normally is produce the greatest possible utility for the greatest possible number of people” which means that if an action has more benefits than not it is a good action. Utilitarianism is the most used theory today, and was founded sometime in the 1800’s A.D. by English philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (Manias, 2013).
Deontology is a theory that “emphasizes moral duty”, which is based on whether some of the behaviors are right or wrong. Deontology is one of Immanuel Kant’s theory of ethics, and argues that it is not the consequence of one’s actions that makes them right or wrong, but the motive or reason