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Deontological Ethics Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

Deontological Theory of Ethics

Introduction

     When ethics is explored, and an inquiry into its origin and sources are explored to find definition and clarity around ethics, one initial discovery will be that two main views on ethical behavior emerge. One of those theories is the deontological theory of ethics. Ethics and ethical decisions surround themselves around what is the goodness or badness of any particular choice or decision. When exploring ethics, it is necessary to explore what are the different thoughts surrounding what framework is used to weigh this goodness and badness. Deontological Theory explores this very point.

Defining Deontological Theory

     Deontological theories of ethics are almost synonymous with Kantianism, after a philosopher, Immanual Kant. Although it must be noted that his views are simply one view of deontological theory, which will be explored later in this paper, it is important to note his powerful influences here. Deontologists base their evaluation of actions in and of themselves. In other words, deontologists view actions without regard to consequences or potential outcomes of any given choice or action. Ethical decisions are made simply by viewing the intrinsic goodness or badness of the act itself. In a simple example, if lying were deemed an intrinsically unethical act, deontologist would hold that lying would never be ethical, regardless of the potential outcome of telling a lie. (Cline n.d.)
     When viewing deontological thought, one of the first questions that will appear is what framework or system is used to judge the inherent features within actions that determine whether or not they are right. There are many different thoughts behind this question, but for the purpose of an initial definition of the concept, the influences that guide deontological thought come from various sources, such as "religion, biology, psychology, metaphysics, culture, language, etc. Considering the source of the foundation for the deontological thought an act's duty may be absolute (without exception), overridden by a more important duty, or only hold under certain circumstances. The following sections will explore the different types of thought and theories that drive the foundation of deontological thought. The first explored will be the most influential, Kant's Deontological Ethical System called the Categorical Imperative. (Frankena 1973)

Kant's Categorical Imperative

     Immanual Kant is one of the main Deontological Theorists. Kant's theories state that actions are only morally right when they are done out of duty. Kant describes these moral duties as unchanging and views them as laws for human behavior and conduct. Kant also holds that being a free being is essential to the ability to think rationally, which allows for morality. Without freedom, there cannot be moral thought and the person cannot be...

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