Ethics in the real world are quite difficult to explain and defend. Ethics came from the word “ethos,” ethos in turn means “character. ” Character is determined through life experience, obstacles, temptations, frustrations, inner struggles, and dilemmas. Every single human has to cope with these, but our character is how we deal with them. The decisions through life where we decide what is right or wrong, yet, we all learn differently and chose what we consider “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “evil”. It emphasizes what is the right thing to do rather than what is good thing to do.
Philosophical theories have been created to prove ethical thinking and conduct. Utilitarianism and Deontology are the two major theories which try to prove the ethics of conduct; however, Deontology is the one that seems to make most sense. Picture a man harboring Jews in his attic during the Holocaust era, then out of nowhere, a Nazi officer knocks on the door asking the man if he had seen any Jews. The man is in a conflict with his inner thoughts. Should he tell the officer “no” because you know the outcome for the Jews and would not do that to a fellow human. The other decision he could pick, would be to respond “yes”.
The man can think, “If it is okay to lie now, then it should be okay to lie in other situations. It should never be okay to lie. ” This is deontology. Deontology theorists like Immanuel Kant believed that the only way to be morally correct would be to follow rules or laws which established what is right and what is wrong. This means that the consequences of an action should never take part in any kind of moral judgment. Considering the Man in the scenario was to choose the second option; to tell the officers of the Jews’ location, there would be strong feelings for and against his decision.
Today’s society would shun him, and look down upon him for giving up humans to death; however, Immanuel Kant would view it differently. He would consider this scenario ethically correct; this is because the Man did not lie in this scenario because he wouldn’t lie in other scenarios either. It was his duty to follow the law, what is right. Kant believed that it is ones duty to follow an action in every situation, no matter the logic surrounding the situation. Kant states, “Act as if the maxim of thy action ere to become by thy will a universal law of nature,” (Section 3) Kant believed that there should be a universal moral decision for everything. He proposed the idea of Categorical Imperative which did just that. Kant’s ethical theory qualifies as deontological because “Everything in nature works according to laws,” (Section 3) no matter the consequence of the action. Kant believes that “an action must be done from duty, not merely in accordance with duty. ” (http://web. ics. purdue. edu/~curd/110WK11. html) Kant set up a few rules or “duties” himself.
Kant believed that “actions that accord with duty and that we have an immediate inclination to perform,” (http://web. ics. purdue. edu/~curd/110WK11. html) Kant also said that one won’t commit adultery because one finds one’s spouse to be “the most desirable creature in the whole world”. He believed that if you were loyal in a certain situation you were to be loyal everywhere else. If you were to tell the truth in a certain scenario, you were to tell the truth in every other scenario. If it were morally permissible for a person to act upon maxim A, then the person will make that A a universal law.
Kant gave a multitude of example explaining his ethical theory. Kant offered a suicide example. “He who contemplates suicide should ask himself whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself. If he destroys himself in order to escape from painful circumstances, he uses a person merely as a mean to maintain a tolerable condition up to the end of life. But a man is not a thing, that is to say, something which can be used merely as means, but must in all his actions be always considered as an end in himself.
I cannot, therefore, dispose in any way of a man in my own person so as to mutilate him, to damage or kill him. ” This example is deontological because you do what is “right”, and what is “right” is to not commit suicide. Kant’s theory is deontological because of the golden rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ” Obviously, this is deontological. If it is “right” for someone to do something to you, then it is “right” for you to do the same, no matter the outcome, as long as it is “right”. Kant strictly believes in duty and good will.
Kant says that only kind of thing is inherently good, and that is the good will (http://www. wku. edu/~jan. garrett/ethics/kant. htm). He believes that good will is found in humans but not nonhuman animals, it is not a material thing, it is our power of rational moral choice, and it’s the presence which gives humans their inherent dignity. (http://www. wku. edu/~jan. garrett/ethics/kant. htm) Kant believed that the will is good when it acts upon duty, not upon feelings of pleasure or wishing upon gain; as long as it satisfies the categorical imperative. Respect of the moral law leads to good will which leads to an ethically sound person.
Clearly Kant’s ethical theories are deontological. The need to achieve good will is to act out of duty. You act out of duty because it is what is “right” without a worry of the outcome or consequence. Acting upon what is “right” without thinking of the results or aftermath is the basis of deontology. Kantianism is a perfect example of Deontology.
Classification of Ethical Theories. Digital image. Http://www. trinity. edu/cbrown/intro/ethicsOverview. gif. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. “The Good Willand Duty: The Motive of Duty. ” Kant’s Deontological Ethical Theory. N. . , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. ;http://web. ics. purdue. edu/~curd/110WK11. html;. Kant, Immanuel. “Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. ” Www. gutenberg. org. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. ;http://www. gutenberg. org/cache/epub/5682/pg5682. html;. Kant, Immanuel. “Immanuel Kant: The Metaphysics of Morals (excerpts). ” Immanuel Kant: Metaphysics of Morals (excerpts). N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. ;http://praxeology. net/kant7. htm;. “Kant’s Duty Ethics. ” Kant’s Duty Ethics. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://www. wku. edu/~jan. garrett/ethics/kant. htm>.