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Deontology, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1021

Essay

The principles of moral thinking are applicable to all spheres of human life – people are guided by their desire to live their own lives the way they want (the principle of autonomy). They also need to meet needs and wants of other people (obligation), to have a complete understanding of what the universal virtue is (neutral values) and to deal with other people decently (deontology) (Nagel, 1986). From the point of view of deontology, people have to act morally, which involves obeying the rules and following the duty. Deontology is also closely connected with religion, arguing that moral actions result from obedience to God – the duty of every individual (Cline, n.d.).

Deontology claims for the establishment of independent criteria to evaluate the right and the good  – it does not tolerate any subjectivism and relativism in justification. Nonetheless, as practice proves, it is difficult to be guided only by objective terms in reality, so the purpose of the present paper is to examine the discrepancies between what is objectively valued by deontologists and what can be objectively regarded as subjectively valued by people (Nagel, 1986). These divergences have always existed and marked the contradictions in making decisions, evaluations and taking actions.

There are some universal notions in the modern civilized world that have specific guidelines for approaching under the provisions of deontology – they are virtue, character, love, law, and Christian ethical behavior in terms described in the Bible. The latter term can be clearly discussed in deontology, as already mentioned – the Christian behavior according to the Bible is  morally correct. It is the universal guidance for people who want to observe principles of morality and, consequently, deontology – the Bible has concentrated all provisions for moral thinking and acting in the Christian religion.

Dealing with other notions is much more complicated. There is universal virtue in the world, which means the virtue for everyone; but the notion of virtue directly contradicts the notion of law. It is necessary to note that according to the provisions of deontology the good (what is of value), i.e. the virtue should always take priority over what is right, i.e. the human duty, i.e. obedience to the law. Judging from this point, one can determine which concept should have more priority for the person, hence raising several other moral dilemmas. For instance, one can analyze a situation with committing a crime and killing a person to take his or her organs to save many more people from dying – surely, the answer will be against killing. Here the principle of absolute rights comes into force – they must not be violated even in case their violation will bring much virtue to others (Johnson, n.d). They include such fundamental rights as the right to live.

Coming to the topics of love and character, one can see that they fall into the category of subjective concepts that are beyond the measures of deontological consideration. These concepts identify the subjective field of a person’s reasoning that heavily influences his/her ability to make decisions; in case a person is in love, he or she makes decisions irrelevant of the deontological laws of the good and the right. Love shapes a totally different set of values in people, so in case they do something for the sake of their beloved they will find these deeds being their duty of utmost importance, thus neglecting other duties dictated by morality and religion. The same principle is applicable to the cases of character analysis – many people have their personal opinions and viewpoints on morality and duty. These opinions emerge by means of genetics, nature of profession, social environment etc. Thus, they can affect the individual subjectively, deviating his/her views on the universal virtue and rightness. As an example one can consider an example of a soldier who considers killing his duty, not thinking about it being good or bad.

One more disagreement arising in the context of discussing deontological principles and their impact on the human life, way of thinking and the pattern of decision-making is the one between justice and equality. Here it is particularly relevant to go to Rawls’ theory of justice in terms of fairness and equality.

Rawls argues that the principles of justice which would establish the basis of an ideal society are principles which would be chosen by every individual if every individual were in an ‘original position’ of equality with regard to rights and duties and if all individuals were acting rationally in a mutually disinterested manner (John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, n.d.).

This is what justice and equality actually represents from a deontological point of view; but in case such just conditions exist, the consequences of people’s choices will still result in inequality. People have different abilities and make either right or wrong decisions, hence achieving varied results. Some people work more while others are lazy; some individuals have the entrepreneurial skills in contrast to others submissive by nature. For this reason equality can be achieved only in terms of ‘the principle of equality of opportunity” that will still be used by people in different ways, leading them to different results (Scott, 2003).

Summing everything that has been said up, one should note that the principles of the good and the right have direct interconnections in every person’s life. Moral thinking and acting are the principles of deontology, but the perfect results rarely exist in reality. More often people make their choices according to a greater number of influential factors that affect their lives. Logically, the task of deontology is not evolving – the field has not only to consider what universal principles of good and right model human lives, but what subjective influential factors change the human decision-making process and how they correlate with objective values and duties.

References

Cline, A. (n.d.). Deontology and Ethics: What is Deontology, Deontological Ethics? Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://atheism.about.com/od/ethicalsystems/a/ Deontological.htm

Johnson, R.N. (n.d.). Deontological Ethics. Supplement to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan. Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://web.missouri.edu/~johnsonrn/deon.html

Nagel, T. (1986). Agent-Relativity and Deontology. In S. L. Darwall (Ed.), Deontology (pp. 90-112). Wiley-Blackwell.

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://www.angelfire.com/md2/timewarp/rawls.html

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