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Deontology, Article Review Example

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Words: 625

Article Review

In Georg Spielthenner ‘s article, Consequentialism or Deontology?, there is an examination of the qualities that make certain behaviors morally right or wrong.  Consequentialism explores the value of moral actions as being the results or impacts of such actions on others; the opposite of Consequentialism is Deontology, which concentrates not on the impact of those actions but on other factors aside from the rightness or wrongness of such actions.  Applying both of these concepts to moral dilemmas can produce legitimate arguments for nearly any side of a controversial topic, for example, euthanasia.  Utilizing the framework of Consequentialism, euthanasia would take into account the act of assisted-suicide and include the impact on the loved ones of the patient, the medical staff involved in the act of euthanasia, and the legal ramifications, if any.  If deontology means living our lives by following a certain set of rules, the subject of euthanasia becomes even more complex: whose rules?  There are quality of life issues that revolve around the patient, religious rules regarding the taking of one’s life, legal rules prohibiting euthanasia in some places but not others (Spielthenner, 2005.)

Utilizing Spielthenner ‘s discussion, one might consider the topic of abortion as well.  The Consequentialist perspective would consider the life of the fetus, the woman bearing the pregnancy, and all of the repercussions that the end of the pregnancy would involve.  Utilizing deontology, regarding abortion, other factors besides the consequences would be relevant to the moral issues involved in the decision, such as the situation of the pregnant woman and whether bringing the pregnancy to term would be the best thing to do for that time and situation.

In his article entitled” Rights,” Raanan Gillon discusses the concept of deontology—the moral philosophy that we should live our lives according to a certain set of rules–by concentrating on the distinction between legal and institutional rights as opposed to moral rights.  On the topic of moral rights, he differentiates between universal rights, or those possessed by everyone, and rights that are possessed by some, but not all, people.  The article appears in a British journal, and so it presents as an example of legal and institutional rights in that country free medical care, education and other welfare services.  The definition of legal and institutional rights are very simply delineated: they can be both created and abolished, depending on the person or groups of people who are in charge of making such decisions.  By contrast, people are endowed with certain inalienable moral rights such as the right to not be killed, enslaved, or dispossessed (Gillon, 1985.) The article made an extremely complicated set of terms a bit easier to follow.

This article also summarizes the importance of the work of John Locke, who was one of the strongest proponents of the idea of natural human rights; he defended the rights to “life, liberty, and estate” as being god-given moral rights that people were obligated to defend, even if it meant by engaging in armed conflict.  Included in the category of those who have defended moral rights is a wide variety of people and their causes, such as  pro-life activists, the opponents of apartheid in South Africa, as well as a capitalist who believes that taxation violates the freedom of the market.  Though focused on distinctly different moral rights, all are concerned with deontology, or the ethical issues focusing on the rightness or wrongness of the actions, rather than on the goodness or the badness of the consequences of those behaviors.  I find it interesting that there is so much diversity within the examples of moral rights given in this article.

References

Gillon, R. (1985, June 22). Rights. Retrieved February 2, 2011, from British Medical Journal.: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1416815/pdf/bmjcred00453-0046.pdf

Spielthenner, G. (2005). Consequentialism or Deontology? Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, 217-235.

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