Deontological Ethics Essay

Total Length: 760 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 0

Page 1 of 3

I have two thoughts regarding your narrative about duty. The first is that I see your point with respect to people having different ideas about what their duty might be towards others. Holly and yourself are described as having different ideas about what her duty towards Chelsea should be. That's a valid point – if we are to use a deontological framework then that assumes that we all have roughly the same framework with which we're working. The roots of deontological ethics derive from a European culture that was fairly homogenous and from a time when a lot of the ethical framework was religious in nature. In the modern world, in a county where there are so many cultures, there cannot be the same high level of agreement about the underlying deontological ethics of many situations in everyday life.

The second point I would add is that even if yourself and Holly both completely agreed on what her duty was, there is also the issue of carrying out one's duty. Clearly in this situation Holly did not execute the duty she thought she had well. As you said, it's not her duty to spread rumors or anything unsubstantiated. She might have a duty to inform her friend if the boyfriend is cheating, but until that cheating is proven Holly is not in a position where her duty is activated – she only has a duty if she knows that the cheating is happening, but does not have a duty if she merely suspects it. The question about acting out of a sense of duty being right or wrong leaves out an important part – what action? Because as your anecdote describes, the action itself matters in making that judgement.

Your anecdote raises an interesting point about duty. In this case, the sentry's duty is defined by superiors. Those superiors made the rules with a number of factors in mind, and the sentry is expected to uphold those rules. So you raise the issue of where the duty arises from. In this case, the sentry may not have all the information necessary to question the merits of the duty, but there are definitely situations that can arise where one might know that the law does more harm than good. This issue arises in many areas of life, be it with civil disobedience, drug laws or whatever. If the sense of duty arises from a rule or a law, it is probably unreasonable to assume that all rules and all laws are created with pure intentions, full understanding of the consequences, and even-handed balancing of costs and consequences. There are more glaring examples you can use to make this point – acting on duty is not inherently good or bad because there are many situations where acting out of a sense of duty specifically asks that you do not evaluate good and bad. There is almost a built-in assumption that the person following the duty is incapable of evaluating consequences, and thus someone else figures out the consequences and creates the duty for the person – that will inevitably create situations where acting out of duty is the wrong thing to do.

You describe the classic dilemma between deontological ethics and utilitarianism, but I'd like to add one point to that discussion. In utilitarianism, one can only guess or estimate at the outcomes. You don't actually know. Deontological ethics….....

Show More ⇣

     Open the full completed essay and source list


     Order a one-of-a-kind custom essay on this topic

Related Essays

Ethics and Moral Guidelines Criminal Justice

an action is inherently right or wrong. I also believe that there are situational variables that make true deontological ethics almost impossible to apply universally and without hypocrisy. Although I make some decisions based on the principle of doing the maximum amount to good for the maximum number of people, I also recognize the importance of a strong ethical character when making decisions "Six Ethical Theories Rough Overview," n.d.). This is why I believe that there can be no one ethical theory that encompasses all situations. A person who has a strong ethical character, and who critically examines the variables at stake in any given situation, will make… Continue Reading...

Ethics and Morality

deontological ethics, teleological ethics, moral objectivism, and ethical relativism to explain why this is so. Reason One In deontological ethics, morality is defined by a set of rules rather than by the outcome of the behavior. In other words, the rules are determined by the duty that is expected of one as dictated by the ethical code of conduct. The rules are generally universal in character and are connected with traditional moral norms, such as lying is wrong, stealing is wrong, and so on. As Goldsmith points out, companies are… Continue Reading...

Noddings Care Based Ethics

a moral way of life is not dissimilar to some of the arguments that date to virtue ethics, or even deontological ethics. While there are elements that are different, all of these contrast consequentialism in the sense that they presuppose a set of rules that govern morality. Noddings simply argues that care ethics can form morality. In this, she is not wrong. There are many means by which people form their morality. The religious will see morality is relating to laws handed down by some deity or other; the irreligious may turn to deontology, but there is always some sort of code that people follow, in a rule-based way, that… Continue Reading...

Deontology Theory's Application to DNR

2016). Deontological Ethics or Deontology represents an ethical approach which concentrates on how right or wrong an action is, as against how right or wrong its effects or consequences are (Consequentialism) or the player’s behavior and traits (Virtue Ethics). Therefore, for deontologists, the decision on whether any given situation is bad or good is governed by whether its underlying action is wrong or right. In simpler terms, a choice is considered to be "right" if it conforms to an ethical norm: Right must be prioritized over good. If, for instance, an… Continue Reading...

Do Not Resuscitate Orders

right may depend at times on the situation. The theory of moral relativity, for example, falls into the category of deontological ethics: it presupposes that in some instance it is right to lie—for example, if one is trying to save another from being found by a killer (Sen, 1983). Not all deontologists agree on that point: Kant would argue that lying is never right and that moral absolutism applies; the duty-based ethics perspective, however, posits that moral relativism is justified—but, of course, the bone of contention is how one defines what is right (Karnik & Kanekar, 2016). Ethics is a fundamental health care competency: professionals in the health care field… Continue Reading...

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

calling into question the efficacy of ethical consequentialism or utilitarianism versus deontological ethics. Omelas is a thriving, joyful place but the happiness and health that abounds there “depend wholly on” the “abominable misery” of a single child (Le Guin 252). Le Guin’s story reveals the “terrible paradox” at the heart of human existence: that technological progress and the other trappings of civilization are directly dependent on exploitation (253). Upon perceiving the child trapped in the room at the underbelly of Omelas, residents have two choices: they can walk away from the community or they can remain within it, feeling poignantly the… Continue Reading...

sample essay writing service

Cite This Resource:

Latest APA Format (6th edition)

Copy Reference
"Deontological Ethics" (2018, February 17) Retrieved July 14, 2020, from

Latest MLA Format (8th edition)

Copy Reference
"Deontological Ethics" 17 February 2018. Web.14 July. 2020. <>

Latest Chicago Format (16th edition)

Copy Reference
"Deontological Ethics", 17 February 2018, Accessed.14 July. 2020,