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Ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with systematizing, defending, and recommending right or wrong behavior. Ethics can be divided into three branches, which include meta-ethics, which mainly deals with the theoretical meaning and moral propositions and how their truth values may be determined. Normative ethics deals with the practical means of determining a moral action whereas applied ethics entail how moral outcomes can be achieved in given situations.
Socrates encouraged people to turn to the condition of humankind. This involves acquiring knowledge which he believed got placed first in human life (Aristotle, 2009). Aristotle argued that when an individual behaves as expected of his nature and discovers his or her potential, he or she can do well and act responsibly. He asserted that man comprises three natures, which include, vegetable, animal, and rational (Cooper, Gordon and Katz, 2006). The vegetable component of man comprises the physical nature and metabolism which can be achieved through care and exercises.
Virtue ethics, which can sometimes be referred to as get-based or character ethics, focus on the idea that human beings should aspire to do their best in everything. However, these virtues comprise both moral and immoral acts and behaviors. According to Aristotle,” excellence is not overachieving; rather it is a considered balance among possible alternatives.” Therefore, this means that one should take time to consider the effectiveness of a decision before settling on it. As a result, therefore, one can be termed a good person if he or she possesses a number of excellent traits.
On the other hand, deontology determines whether something or a person is good by examining his or her acts or the intentions of the individual in performing the act. This is in accordance with specified rules and duties (Hugh, 1992). According to this theory, an action can be termed as right even though its outcome is not appealing. This theory is similar to the virtue theory in the sense that both insist on careful consideration and assessment of a decision before embarking on it Nicholas and Paul, 2000). However, there exists a difference between them in that deontology focuses on the motives or intention of the doer of the action which is not the case for virtue theory. The deontological theory also focuses and bases its arguments on duties which do not apply to the virtue theory.
Utilitarianism theory mainly reflects on happiness. It asserts that the moral value of an action can be determined by its outcome and can only be identified after identifying its consequences. Utilitarianism is similar to the deontological theory in that it considers the consequences of an action as the determining factor of its moral value. It can also be contrasted with virtue ethics, which mainly focuses on character. According to this theory, when one gets faced with a situation that requires decision making, he or she should consider the consequences before embarking on any action.
Of the three theories discussed, I mainly apply the virtue ethics theory. This is because I rarely think of consequences nor follow any rules of conduct. I believe in myself nature and character, and that is why I think that the virtue theory is the best.
Ethics is a crucial aspect of daily life. This is because it governs the cause of action and enables life to move on smoothly. Based on the theories discussed above, ethics and moral behavior solely depend on a person’s interpretation and intentions of undertaking a given action. Nature also contributes immensely towards a person’s behavior and decision in performing given actions in life. Therefore, it is essential that one undertakes an action based on what they believe is true or in accordance with certain set rules of conduct. This helps in eliminating unacceptable behavior and instead encourages ethical behavior and morals. Ethics should not be based on a given background such as a religion but should be open in order to incorporate different types of people and their characters.
Aristotle. (2009). The Nicomachean Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cooper, J., Gordon, J. and Katz, J. (2006). Aristotle: Philosopher, Teacher, And Scientist. United States of America: Compass Point Books.
Hugh, H. (1992). Essays on the Philosophy of Socrates. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nicholas, D. and Paul, B. (2000). Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy. New York: Oxford US.