Morality along with moral values and ethics are one of the central concepts in the life of every person, family, nationality and world as a whole. It took thousands of years for people to develop certain patterns of behavior following principles of ethics. Being one of the main branches of philosophy, ethics is concerned with studying human beings, their behavior and thoughts, teaching people how to take the right action, how to treat each other, explaining such concepts as love and respect, friendship, family and others. Indeed, ethics is one of the fundamental sciences, which played a great role in the moral development of the humanity. Establishing certain norms, or rules of behavior, ethics predetermined the patterns of behavior for people living in different countries during different historical periods. Of course, every generation has its own moral and ethical values which are more preferred than others; however, there is a certain standard in ethical science which is used in every country, culture or religion worldwide. Ethics acknowledges that all people are different and that all of us face certain difficulties at some points of our lives, however, it emphasizes the importance of usage of moral principles and values when dealing with any kind of problems. As a science, ethics adopted various theories, and every one of them has its followers and opponents. Two ethical theories will be discussed in the current paper. They are Mill’s Utilitarian Theory and Kant’s Deontological Theory.
Utilitarian theory is a moral theory, which puts its main emphasis on actions rather than on individuals. Central concept of this theory is the principle of utility, according to which good or moral actions are the actions that bring pleasure and happiness to people. The followers of Utilitarian theory are convinced that the action is good or moral, when it brings the best possible results. According to this theory, people “ought to do what produces the greatest overall good consequences for everyone” , not just one person. That’s why group’s interests are put higher than individual interests, which can result in significant sacrifice for some people. Also, Utilitarian theory concentrates its attention on the consequences of actions rather than their means. Pleasure and happiness act as certain indices helping to understand whether the action was good or bad. Utilitarian theory along with Teleological Theory and Ethical Egoism is a theory that allows justification of the means by the ends (consequences), which means that “it may justify some particular acts that most of us would want to condemn particular those that sacrifice individual life and liberty for the sake of the whole” .
Kant’s Deontological Theory, as opposed to Utilitarian theory, is concerned with what is right rather than what is good or moral. The name for this theory originated from Greek “deonto”, which means “duty”. Deontological theory does not justify the means of any actions, as it concentrates on duties and rights of people while decision-making process. Deontological Theory stresses the importance of living according to moral principles; thus, making people do what is right not paying attention to possible consequences. It does not justify the methods of accomplishing actions by the results as it is done in Teleological Theory, in Ethical Egoism and Utilitarian Theory.
In conclusion, the main difference between these two theories is the treatment of good and right actions and the priority of individual and collective interests.
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