Ethics is important when making decision more so in the ethical dilemmas category. There are two systems that one bases his decisions on. They are deontological and teleological ethical systems. Deontological systems are decisions based on written or unwritten rules while Teleological are based on outcomes of the action. This paper analyses two ethical systems—deontological and teleological—with a personal conclusion of which one is the best.
- Key Words: Ethics, Deontology, and Teleology
- Ethical Systems
- Deontological Ethical Systems
Deontology comes from Greek words “Deon” that refers to duty and “Logy” that means science hence it directly means duty science (Wundt, 2010). The focus of this category of ethical systems is on devotion to autonomous moral rules and duties. The system stresses on the reason why certain actions are performed that is entirely based on the correct motivation. In Pollock’s view, 2005, “the system entails to behaviours that are evaluated by other people (33)”. This broad category contains ethical systems that are: religion, natural law, and ethical formalism.
Ethical formalism is a type of system that bases moral decisions on logic as opposed to the content of the decisions (Pollock, 2005). In this system when a decision is right it is entirely right and vice versa hence an absolute system. An example in this system is deciding that a patient should be operated despite the risks involved who eventually dies. Decision can be interpreted from an ethical formalism view where the intent was to save the life despite death consequence.
Religion is a part of deontological system where many people use religious principles to make moral decisions. According to Wundt, 2010, good actions or decisions are those that have been defined by God. Despite the fact that there are many religions all of them have principles that resemble each other. An example is that in Muslim, Christianity and even Hindu there are rules against murder, stealing, and even adultery. In all the religions there are prophets of God who drafted the rules that would guide all moral actions.
Natural law comprises of two features which are: the feature of divine providence which acknowledges God as the giver of natural law; and the feature of practical rationality that takes into consideration human’s role as the recipient of natural law. Therefore the system stipulates that what is good is what comes natural (Caldero & Crank, 2010). For instance, killing someone in self-defence is in accordance to natural.
Virtue ethics can also be considered a deontology system as decisions are based entirely on the character of the moral agent. Therefore, an individual will decide on a particular action if their internal principle and rules propose that the action is right. Virtues are not the same in many people and so moral decisions based on virtue will also vary greatly. For example, an individual can decide to lie based on his virtue that lying is right when protecting someone or something while another individual will never lie based on his virtues that lying is absolutely wrong.
Teleological Systems of Ethics
These are ethical systems whose moral decisions and actions are based on consequences (Pollock, 2005). They are also called consequentialism ethics as before one makes the right moral decision one has to make choices that would ultimately result in the right consequences. The term teleology comes from two Greek words which are “telos” meaning end and “logos” that refer to science (Wundt, 2010). Systems that are in this category are: Egoism, Virtue ethics, care ethics, and utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism is a teleological system where moral decisions and actions are determined by it outcome (Pollock, 2005). If the outcome would be beneficial to most people then, according to utilitarianism that is the morally correct action or decision. The system was facilitated by Stuart Mills and is sometimes referred to as the “greatest happiness or greatest felicity” principle (Wundt, 2010). An example is a worker reporting his friend who stole company funds. According to utilitarianism the greatest happiness will be in reporting the case which will benefit the whole company as opposed to keeping quiet which will please an individual.
Egoism was first propagated by Max Stirner and it emphasises that moral decisions should be based on the self interests of the moral agent (Caldero & Crank, 2010). However, the moral agents are not required to harm the well being of others and their self interest when deliberating on which moral decision to take. An example is in the case of an employee resigning and taking away a firm’s customers ultimately leading to collapse of the firm. The decision is ethically right according to egoism as the employee wanted to be happy.
Care ethics can be considered in teleology where the focus is the outcome which is promotion of positive relationships (Wundt, 2010). Therefore is an action will promote positive coexistence in the society then the action and decision will be morally right. For instance, a wife resigning her job to spend more time with her family is morally right based on ethics of care.
The system that mostly matches my beliefs is teleology ethical systems. As one grows up and interacts with people of all walks in life all decisions and actions are best solved through analysing consequences. My beliefs are that in order for one to live harmoniously in the society one has to compromise on certain decisions. Compromising entails that certain unwritten and written rules have to be broken for the benefit of majority in the society as in the case of utilitarianism. Again, a case in life comes when self interest is very important so that psychologically, emotionally, and even physically one can be strong. This will call for egoism. The same is also true in care ethics where one needs to foster relationships in the society. In the end, teleological systems also offer the best procedure on making decisions on ethical dilemmas which cannot be said for deontology systems.
Caldero, M. A., & Crank, J. P. (2010). Police Ethics: The Corruption of Noble Cause (3rd ed.). Massachusetts: Elsevier. Pp. 174-181
Pollock, M. J. (2005). Ethical Dilemmas and Decision in Criminal Justice (6th ed.). Ohio: Cengage Learning. Pp. 33-87
Wundt, W. (2010). Ethical Systems. Chicago: BiblioBazaar. Pp. 3-57