Deontological (Greek “deon” means “obligatory”) ethics “defines certain acts as intrinsically right or wrong”, with regards to the performance of laws and duties ( Booker [no date] ). It believed in the philosophy therefore, that, actions are considered good or bad not because they produce bad or good outcomes but because they are good or bad in themselves. In other words, this type of ethical theory holds that certain acts are wrong or right everywhere at all times.
For example if a person has the moral duty not to lie, then he is bound to tell the truth even if it means harming others (like telling the Nazis where the Jews are hiding). If the person does not reveal the exact location, then he had committed a wrongful act (lying). Teleological (Greek “telos” means “end”) ethics “define the moral value of an act by its outcome (consequentialist)” (Booker [no date]). It is a moral theory that considers the motive/intention and duty as the basis for assessing the morality of the ultimate goal or outcome. In other words, actions are judge to be good if they achieve a good goal or outcome (e.
g. , it makes the doer happy). Oftentimes, the preferable outcome is to do the greatest good for the greatest number in order to “at least achieve a great balance of good over evil”” (W. Frankena as qted in Pless, 2000). For example, although murder is wrong, killing people in order not to spread infection may be considered right for it means the safety and preservation of humanity (Booker [no date]; Pless 2000). Absolutism is the “view that values like truth, beauty, and/or moral goodness are independent of human opinion and have a common or universal application”.
This means that there exist moral principles in which the validity is independent of what humans think or say. Relativism is the opposite of absolutism, in that it denies that there are valid moral principles at all time for all people. Relativism believed that morality or truth is dependent on the point of view of individual or culture or society (Garrett 2002; Myers 2008). Objectivism on the other hand like absolutism believed that moral principles are valid rules of action but it also adheres to the idea “that this certain moral principle may be override by other moral principle in cases of conflict” ( Myers 2008) .
This means that situations had to be “objectively” considered before saying it was either a good or a bad action (like the example above regarding the murder of infectious individuals). Objectivism then may be considered in the middle of absolutism and relativism. Virtue ethics may be define as the one “that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach which emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that which emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism)” (“Virtue” 2003). Examples of virtues are honestly, benevolence, integrity, etc.
The act of helping a needy person may be viewed in virtue ethics as an act of benevolence. Virtue ethics seeks to guide individuals into better persons. Professional ethics, on the other hand, refers to good job performance. It outlines principles, duties and rules that guide and limit actions in a professional field. Professional ethics also served as a guide by which to measure the conduct of a professional, like whether he was being irresponsible. In most cases, virtue ethics and professional ethics must go together for professional ethics are achieved by practicing virtue.
In other words, the more that a person practices virtues ( like honesty, integrity) the more that he will be able to abide in professional ethics However, some professional ethics had to be measured in one’s virtue, that is whether the rules of his profession is in conflict to what one believes to be good or of moral excellence. Kohlberg’s ethics of responsibility states that that all rules must be applied responsibly, that is, when the rules are drawn, everybody under that rule should be treated the same way according to what the rule specify (a common thinking of men).
Otherwise, there were be incompetence and unfair treatment of people which would lead to chaos. For example, employee A may file for a sick leave in a certain limit of days which he is entitled to do according to a company policy. Therefore, employee A should not be allowed to spend one day more for sick leave otherwise he will be fired. If not, employee B who was fired for spending more than the limited days of sick leave may complain for unfairness and employees may oppose the company’s arbitrary decisions.
Therefore, there should be no special cases that would set as a precedent for something bad or negative responses. However, Gillian’s ethics of care (what women often do) recognizes special cases wherein a person is to be given an exception. For example, Employee A may be in a more serious need than Employee B had been. It may be that Employee A’s circumstances are beyond his control and therefore it is just right, in the name of the principle of care, that Employee A be given another chance.
In Kohlberg’s ethics of responsibility, making an exception in Employee A’s case may be unfair or an act of irresponsibility for not following the rules but in Gillian’s ethics of care, making an exception for Employee A is not fair or being irresponsible. It does not mean however that the company should make exceptions always, but it stressed that problems should be treated in a case-to-case basis. Kohlberg’s ethics of responsibility is geared on autonomy (independence from others) while Gillian’s ethics of care pursues the preservation of relationships with others (“Two ethical” 2006).
Booker, Amaya. Normative Ethics. Griffith University. [No date] Accessed June 30, 2008 <http://www. cit. gu. teaching/2166CIT/Normative_Theories/ 5a57cf7. htm> ________. “Virtue Ethics”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2003. July 18, 2008 <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/ethics-virtue/> Garret, Jan. Five Isms. Western Kentucky University. 2002. Accessed June 30, 2008 2002. <http://www. wku. edu/~jan. garrett/fiveisms. htm> Myers, Gene. Environmental History and Ethics. Western Washington University. 2008.
Accessed June 24, 2008<http://www. ac. wwu. edu/~gmyers/ehe. relat. html> Pless, John. What are Theological Ethics? Concordia Theological Seminary. November 24, 2000. Accessed June 24, 2008 <http://www. ctsfw. edu/academics/faculty/pless/theoethics. htm> ________. “Two Ethical Styles: The debate about Gender”. (Adapted from White, Thomas I. Discovering Philosophy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991). Center for Ethical Business. 2006. Accessed June 29, 2008 < http://www. ethicsandbusiness. org/toolbox/genderdebate. htm#readings>