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Philosophy Issues: Utilitarianism or Deontology? Essay

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2020


Over the years, people have been guided to act by moral principles, which have gone a long way in reducing the number of conflicts in society. Using moral principles, individuals can choose what is wrong and right. Utilitarianism is concerned with attaining results that are better than actions. The theory of utilitarianism argues that people should utilize opportunities when they are happy to produce good outcomes for their communities.

On the other hand, deontology is based on well-defined structures of rules, moral principles, and thoughts. The theory of deontology holds that actions and outcomes of actions should be ethical. This paper argues that deontology principles could be used to provide a stronger platform on which critical decisions are made in society.

Arguments and conclusions

The assumptions and moral obligations that are contained in the deontology theory were proposed and supported by Kant, but the philosopher has been opposed and supported by many scholars.

Regardless of the extent to which some people are opposed to the applications of moral principles, which should be consistent with the scriptures of God, they are used to produce the best results in communities. It is worth to note that only morally acceptable ways of actions can produce unique results. Thus, it would be meaningless to adopt immoral actions to yield some results.

Duty is an essential concept of deontology, which implies that persons should examine morality by evaluating the types of their activities rather than the goals that they would wish to achieve in the short-term and long-term. Individuals have no powers to control the future, implying that there should be a shift from a focus on the effects to duties. In most cases, we are evaluated on the basis of our actions, which are based on our willingness to act and controls used, rather than our achievements.

Kant held that, although our actions’ effects do not matter, it is always prudent to realize that ethical evaluations of our actions are essential. For instance, human beings do not have a moral duty to kill, meaning that society has always viewed actions that kill people, such as murder and manslaughter, as immoral actions. This can be better illustrated in a situation in a hospital that needs fast and critical decisions.

There are ten patients in the hospital that require organ transplants for them to survive. Three healthy men visit the healthcare facility to have their regular medical checkups. The three men could donate their organs to save some of the patients in critical conditions, which could be viewed from the perspective of maximizing the good. However, according to Util, it is not acceptable to harm a person so that another life might be saved.

In fact, it is ethically wrong to kill an individual with the goal of saving the life another per ofson. Although deontology does not support the action of killing one person and saving another life, utilitarianism could advocate that the three persons should be killed to save the lives of the ten patients, who are critically ill. Thus, utilitarianism cannot be practiced in a community that upholds human rights and morals.

Universal law is an important concept of deontology. Primarily, we need to act using rules that are accepted by many people in our societies. In this context, if a set of rules that govern our actions could not be universalized, then it could imply that our actions and their outcomes could not be acceptable. In philosophy, the concepts of universality and universalizability are quite different, but they are applied to guide our actions.

The important thing to acknowledge is that we should always do what we would like other persons to do. Thus, a doctor cannot advocate killing healthy persons to save the lives of critically ill patients since the majority people in society would not support the decision. In fact, according to the universal law, persons who have no wrongs in communities should never be murdered.

According to Kant, actions that are founded on moral principles should be supported by an alternative formula, which focuses on balancing our actions with the benefits regarding humanity. In this context, it can be said that moral actions are practiced with the view of achieving objectives and adopting a personal moral standpoint.

For example, if a person decides to kill himself or herself, then he or she could make the decision to violate an unsatisfactory duty and refuse to provide benevolence. In addition, he or she could aim at neglecting talents that could be utilized to treat other persons in a humane manner. However, a person could use the principles in deontology to achieve personal goals, which should be viewed from a generalized perspective.

Finally, it is worth to acknowledge that deontology is founded on the formula of autonomy. Regarding the formula, human beings should have the freedom to make decisions that are supported by a set of universal laws.

Thus, it is evident that moral principles are founded on human dignity, which is practiced together with the standards of universality to yield moral laws that are, in most cases, viewed from a personal perspective. Therefore, it would be prudent to state that human beings should regard themselves as legislators in a system that is typified by a collection of outcomes that are anticipated in society.

That notwithstanding, it can be argued that deontology emphasizes a collection of duty ethics that is used to view human beings as outcomes, rather than the means that are adopted to achieve the goals. Thus, it has failed since it only perceives human beings as duty animations. Also, the theory relies on the outcomes, such as happiness, concerning the majority of people in society, implying that the minority groups are merely taken into an account.

In this context, deontology cannot be viewed as a reliable model. On the other hand, utilitarianism can be seen as a reliable model since it does not focus on the interests of the majority of people in society. As Jeremy Bentham argues, human beings should be guided by reasons, but not based on metaphysics. It is a more practical theory for the reason that people are self-centered, implying that they focus on increasing the degrees of pleasure and reducing the extent to which they perceive pain.

Societies should adopt actions that are morally acceptable because they would yield the highest levels of happiness in diverse contexts. For example, if it would require killing one person to save hundreds of lives in a community, then it would be the best approach, which is supported by utilitarianism. In the illustration, it is notable that the best outcomes would be realized, regardless of the extent to which the action would make the moral.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Philosophy Issues: Utilitarianism or Deontology?" March 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-issues-utilitarianism-or-deontology/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Philosophy Issues: Utilitarianism or Deontology'. 23 March.

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