Teleological vs Deontological

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Last updated: June 9, 2019

Ethics is a branch of philosophy dealing with right and wrong.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition is ? “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and  obligation. ” To understand the Deontological and Teleological separations it is necessary to understand what ethics is. Obviously as it is a philosophical study, there are varying degrees and definitions that can be based simply on ones individual perception of these types. Deontological ethics is the study of moral obligation; obviously, morals are based on many separate views, as a result, it is important to understand the varying perceptions.In the study of deontological ethics, it is the right or wrong of the action that defines it. This is versus the teleological ethical system, which focuses on the good or evil of the action and the person committing the action. Emmanuel Kant first defined these principles, ? “Kant held that nothing is good without qualification except a good will, which is one that wills to act in accord with the moral law and out of respect for that law, rather than out of natural inclinations. He saw the moral law as a categorical imperative-i.

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e. an unconditional command-and believed that its content could be established by human reason alone. ” Ethical formalism tends to dictate the logic of the approach, and does not necessarily contemplate what benefits the human versus the law, however is based purely on the action and whether it is right or wrong. Another form of deontological ethics is egoism, in which the action must benefit the person committing the action, again however basing the form on the action versus the potential morality or reflection of god, as teleological arguments tend to be.Lastly, there is natural law, and the approach based on survival of the fittest, versus contributing to the whole.

When utilizing this approach it is necessary to understand that according to “natural law” it is necessary that some humans, animals, etc, fail. Interestingly teleological ethics tend to encompass the religious ideals of ethical involvement versus a purely rational mindset and logical approach. The teleological argument is different due to the following  ? “Teleological theories differ on the nature of the end that actions ought to promote. Eudaemonist theories (Greek eudaimonia, happiness”), which hold that ethics consists in some function or activity appropriate to man as a human being, tend to emphasize the cultivation of virtue or excellence in the agent as the end of all action.

These could be the classical virtues-courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom-that promoted the Greek ideal of man as the rational animal; or the theological virtues-faith, hope, and love-that distinguished the Christian ideal of man as a being created in the image of God. ” Utilitarianism is a form of teleological ethics; this form states that what is good is that which has the greatest result for the greatest number.The ethics of virtue are also a form of teleological ethics; it promotes ones character over rules when approaching ethics.

This form leads one to quest for a greater meaning in life and approach their ethical dilemmas with this mindset. Another example of the teleological system is religion ethics. This approach bases the ethical approach to ones religious stance, unfortunately this also tends to confine ones ethical abilities to that which most closely matches a system of belief that may or may not be correct in the societal situation one finds one self.An example of this ethical approach, Ethics of virtue can be seen in the very controversial abortion question; where in a majority of “pro-life” supporters are also religiously devout. The last system that addressed today is ethics of care, this system tends to allow one too care more for those that are close to oneself.

With the ethics of care on may find that while we wish to prosecute a person for petty theft that we do not know, we may be willing to look the other way if it is a person we do know. Unfortunately, I disagree with this ethical standing, though I can understand the logic it is not a style I normally employ.In studying these systems, I find that the deontological system is more my approach to ethical dilemmas. The action itself is more important than the person committing that action.

While this approach tends to delineate the personal aspect, it also allows for a more formal approach to legal matters. In many cases the particular action preformed (such as theft, or murder) remains the same, while the circumstances of said action differ. The person committing this action is separate from the legality of the action.The affect of the action on the surrounding community is important though should not be used as the decider as to whether the action is illegal or legal. By presenting actions separate from the human component one is more easily able to separate the wrongness versus the rightness of the action itself.

For instance, there is the case of the juvenile offender that used a wrestling move on a much younger child and caused that child’s death. The media characterized this as a case of television and games being the cause versus the offender, and recently we see that the offender was released back into society.However, the action that had been taken caused the death of another. While there was credence too the claims of societal pressure being involved it did not change the simple fact that causing another human pain and death is not right. My approach ethically tends to be ethical formalism, though I have been known to change this view upon occasion.

In my opinion, the ability to change a view based on more evidence is the sign of growth. While ethical boundaries and commitment are important, we should be willing to approach every case individually which obviously means our ethical approach may vary, while our moral base remains the same.


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