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Ethical Theory - Virtue Theory, Utilitarian, and Deontological Ethics

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There are a few types of ethical theories, some of which are; virtue theory, utilitarian, and deontological ethics. Each one of them views ethics in a different way, basing its foundation for reasoning in self, obligation, or duty.

Virtue Theory

The virtue theory focuses on personal characteristics. Becoming the right kind of person by developing certain virtuous character traits (Manias, Monroe, & Till, 2013). Virtues are the traits that you have that determine a moral life. In this theory, the individual is responsible for determining the choices they make are ethical. These choices are determined by weighing the outcome of the choices, based off each situation, and choosing the one with the most desirable result. There is not a specific set of rules that apply to each situation, to guide your decision, you pick the path with the most favorable end result, even if it breaks the law to due so. An example of this would be that it is accepted that stealing is unethical, but a person and their family are starving and the parent steals some food to feed their kids. The act of stealing is unethical, but letting their kids go hungry is morally wrong to the person and so they choose to go with their moral beliefs opposed to the worlds overlying ethics.


Utilitarian theory makes ethical decisions by weighing the options in the majorities favor. When faced with a choice they should think “what would cause the greatest good for the most people?” or “what would cause the least suffering and the most joy?” Looking out for the interest of everyone involved opposed to only themselves. Similar to the virtue theory, utilitarians will break laws if the end result produces the most good and the least pain (Manias, Monroe, & Till, 2013). An example of this is sacrificing one person’s life to save many lives. While some would say it is wrong to make the choice of ending one person’s life, utilitarians think about all the lives saved by the sacrifice of that one life.

Deontological Ethics

Deontological ethics is centered around duty. It doesn’t take into account the end result or the motive behind the action. It has set rules for right and wrong in each situation



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