000457392Philosophy 101Christian GoldenFinal PaperRight and WrongThroughout the semester, we have covered many different types of ethical theories.
Overall, we have come to a common understanding that an ethical theory can be generally a system of thought, or a theory that can be an all including framework, for making sense of and justifying our experiences and judgments regarding right and wrong conduct. This paper will focus on two different ethical theories that have been discussed this semester. These theories are: Utilitarianism and virtue theory. First I will compare the theories by differences and state any possible similarities. Secondly, I will defend the theory of virtue theory as to why it presents the most credible framework of moral deliberation as opposed to any of the other theories that have been discussed. Third and finally, I will discuss the strongest objection one might have to my chosen theory and will discuss the most reasonable argument against virtue theory and the best argument for utilitarianism.
Virtue Theory is an approach to Ethics that emphasizes an individual’s character as the key element of ethical thinking, rather than rules about the acts themselves or their consequences. We have seen the discussion of virtual theory earlier in the semester in the reading “Virtue Theory and Abortion” by Rosalind Hursthouse. In the reading, Hursthouse begins the article with an explanation of what virtue theory is, i.e.
a way of determining right from wrong based on what is virtuous. Then, the article discusses the topic of abortion where Rosalind Hursthouse states that an action is right if and only if it is what the virtuous agent would do in the same circumstances. She discusses how an abortion should not be considered a tragedy and seemed to make a claim that no virtuous woman would ever find herself in a position of choosing to abort a child, which could very well be entirely false.
This is just a brief sum up of the covered topic of Virtue theory in ethics from this semester. Utilitarianism is a little different from virtue theory. Utilitarianism is a doctrine that states actions are right if they are useful or if they are beneficial of a majority. We have seen the discussion of utilitarianism this semester in our reading of “Against Utilitarianism” by Bernard Williams. In this reading Williams discussed a few scenarios of utilitarianism.
One scenario in particular involved a man named Jim who lives in a small town in South America. In the town that Jim lives in, there are twenty indians who are about to be murdered. However, Jim has the opportunity to save nineteen of the indians only if he kills one of the twenty. Williams discusses how the theory of utilitarianism points towards the option that has the most benefits in the end, therefore pointing in favor of Jim killing one indian to save the remaining nineteen. Williams does point out though that the psychological toll that Jim would bear from murdering one man would be a huge negative.
Therefore if he choses not to murder one indian and going in the favor of utilitarianism, it can not be his fault for the death of twenty Indians. This leads to the question of if Jim does not kill an indian and all twenty are murdered is it really Jim’s fault? Williams uses this scenario to make an overall point that utilitarianism has flaws that can be exposed very easily. Virtue theory and utilitarianism are both very different from each other. Utilitarianism is basically the opposite view of Virtue theory. Both theories are quite plausible philosophies, however many of the proposals found in both of these theories debate the differences between the two endlessly. Utilitarianism only deals with if an action is right if the action is beneficial towards something or someone. WHile virtue theory deals with the actual character of someone.
This leads to many arguments. Virtue theory comes down to the fact that someone of only good virtues, or character, can act on this theory, while the people who act on utilitarianism are in fact selfish because they are choosing only to benefit themselves. My main disagreement between the two is simple. I think that virtue theory is the right choice between the two. I think utilitarianism can have some good but I think that it has a more attractive appeal to selfish people due to the fact that it doesn’t offer much to lose.
However in the case of virtue theory, one must be willing to commit themselves one hundred percent to being someone of good character and that in turn leads them to be a good person among society and lead to do more good in the world.I believe that virtue theory provides the most credible and authoritative framework for moral deliberation out of any of the theories we have discussed this semester. I think that the theory of virtue ethics pushes a person to be the best that they can be. A person who is virtuous is one that lives a life of kindness in and out of many different situations during their life not because they want to gain something like that in utilitarianism, but because that is that person’s character and duty when living a virtuous life.
In order for one to live a virtuous life, one must completely give up any holds they might have that might cause them to commit any act of moral degradation. Therefore, if one is able to commit themselves to living the most straight and narrow life that they can live, then how could this person not be better than one who practices utilitarianism? I see it to be impossible. I dream of living a life where I can base every decision around the well being of everything around me instead of the well being of myself.
Living a life of virtue is something I believe everyone should strive for.