Every society is guided by a code of conduct that serves as a framework that regulates their action as good or bad. This code of conduct is patterned after a theory of morality that has been formulated by philosophers and moral advocates. Among these are the three classical theories of morality that help guide social conduct and aid in decision making. These theories include Immanuel Kant’s deontology theory, John Stuart Mill’s theory of utilitarianism and Aristotle’s the virtue theory. However, these theories also help influence cultural identity. This paper aims to evaluate the three classical theories in relation to how these are connected to my cultural identity.
The Three Classical Theories of Morality
Deontology Theory. The deontology theory is grounded on the principles of a moral rule . It follows the formulation stated under the categorical imperative which states that people should not treat others as an instrument to achieving an end. Instead, everyone should be treated as an end themselves or one to be affected by an action. Kant’s principle revolves around two major postulates. The first is that one’s decision to act according to what is right is a moral obligation that is a duty of an individual. The second is that the result of the action is not the foundation that determines whether it is morally right but it is on the intention of the doer that accounts for the morality of the action.
Utilitarianism Theory. Utilitarianism is also referred to as consequentialism. From this term alone it accounts that an action is moral and ethical if it is done to promote the happiness and benefit of the greater majority . The theory of utilitarianism supports that an action has to promote the best consequence, also instituted in the belief of maximum happiness. The theory of utilitarianism assumes that regardless of the means for how the action is achieved provided that it allows for the greater benefit of the people it will always be considered as morally correct.
The Virtue Theory. According to the proponent of the virtue theory happiness is achieved when the man is able to act in accordance to his what he feels is right . Aristotle’s theory was simple in a sense that he believes in the innate goodness of man. Thus, if man simply follows his will then all his actions will promote happiness which is achieved if he acts out on what he believes is right.
Theories of Morality and Cultural Identity
I am African-American and with the long line of historical records to traces the fate of my cultural heritage I believed that we have been a target of social injustice for as long as there is to remember. Given this personal belief, I think we have been shaped by the different theories of morality varying from the different periods in history. The virtue theory could very well be the first moral theory to shape our conduct. Like Aristotle I believe in the innate goodness of man. It is inherent for us to possess the virtues of kindness and morality. However, I believe that there will come a period in our lives when this virtues will be challenged and it will rest in our hand whether such virtues are in fact, worthy of being applied. Aristotle mentioned the virtues of temperance and justice, however, when rights are being stripped and our dignity is being insulted we question whether it is virtuous to still possible to be temperate. Eventually, our code of morality progresses to the utilitarian belief that anything that will be for the happiness and welfare of the greater majority regardless of the means will always qualify to a moral act. So even if we try to earn our rights using force provided that we get what we deserve and it is for the greater good then we will consider the action as morally correct. However, with the rise in popularity of social reformers who embraces peace like Martin Luther King, Jr. we have progress to deontological theory in which we look at the intention rather that the result. King may not have achieved the freedom and the equality he was fighting for but he rests on the principle that he was trying to achieve his goal in the right way. Therefore, at any consequence supporters of King believed that they have achieved their goal.
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