1. There is very little evidence that takingformal ethics classes makes one a more ethical person. Why then, should youtake an ethics course? Different ethical concepts, such as consequentialism,deontology, and virtue ethics all have different ways of framing andprioritizing ethical issues and, as a result, can come to three differentconclusions on what the right course of action should be with respect to anygiven case.
Understanding these differing ways to frame and articulate ethicalproblems is an important step for helping understand moral disagreements. 2. Consequentialism argues that consequences arethe only ethically significant consideration and that each person should act tomake sure the best possible consequences for everyone. For a consequentialist,whether an act is ethically right or not depends solely on the consequences ofthe action1. Thus, neither principles nor intentions are directlyrelevant in determining whether an act is ethically correct, though such thingsmay aid in determining what will have the best overall consequences2.
In an extreme form, consequentialism is commonly summarized in the saying,”the end justifies the means,” meaning that if a goal is morally importantenough, any method of achieving it is acceptable. 3. Those who subscribe to deontological theories of morality stand inopposition to consequentialists. Deontology consists of natural law theories,social contract theories, and Kantian theories of ethics3.
Deontologicaltheories judge the morality of choices by criteria different from the states ofaffairs those choices bring about. One big advantage of deontology is that itis often expressed in the form of prohibitions, and thus are relatively simpleto understand4. 4. Unlike deontologists who define virtue as a trait possessed by those whofulfil their duties, virtue ethicists resist the attempt to define virtues interms of some other concept that is taken to be more fundamental.
Virtue Ethicsfocuses on the character of the moral agent5. For a virtue theoristthe intention of the moral agent will be important, but consequences,principles, and duties may also be important depending on the situation6.According to virtue ethics theories, an action is right if, and only if, it iswhat a moral agent with a virtuous character would do in the circumstances7. 5. In conclusion, ethics are important not onlyin the profession of arms but also in all aspects of life because it is acritical part of the foundation on which civilized society is built. Anorganization or society that lacks ethical principles is bound to faileventually. This is why it is important that we learn the different ethicalconcepts and to help us better understand the moral disagreements.