• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Deontology has many strengths but it is justifiable to reject it. Clarify and assess this claim.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Deontology has many strengths but it is justifiable to reject it. Clarify and assess this claim. Derived from the Greek 'deon' meaning "duty" or obligation", deontology refers to a general category of ethical or moral theories, and literally means "the study of duty or obligation". Deontological ethics, (sometimes described as "duty" or "obligation" -based ethics), therefore focus on the concept of duty with its correlative notions of rights and permission. Deontology posits the existence of a priori moral obligations, suggesting that people ought to live by a set of permanently defined principles that are not subject to change, and are concerned with the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of actions in themselves, as opposed to that of the consequences they produce. In this way, deontology is in direct opposition to consequentialist theories. There are many kinds of deontological theories. All of them have their own respective strengths; however there are some positive attributes which they all share. Perhaps the most obvious common asset is that all deontological ethics provide clear cut rules. This characteristic means that deontologists have the advantage of being able to take very strong moral positions on certain actions, as illustrated by anti-abortion campaigners. By declining to accept exceptions to the maxims they posit, deontological theories produce a very appealing consistency. Another reason why such theories still find such success in modern day society is that they place a very high value on human life, and thereby encourage the creation of laws which protect the sanctity of life. ...read more.

Middle

Mill criticised Kant for avoiding saying what the Imperative essentially reduced to - that the ends justify the means, a primary tenet of conseqentialism. It is also argued that Kantian Ethics are unworkable in modern society because Kant's refusal to allow exceptions to a maxim is not continuous with modern politics. For example, in war, the sacrifice of the few for the many is sometimes seen as necessary, however Kantian ethics would not condone this. A morality in which results are left out of account seems detached from reality and ultimately impractical. Another high profile deontological theory is Natural Moral Law, put forward by Aristotle but championed by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, and is based around the idea that what is 'natural' is good. According to Bishop Robert McManus from Massachusetts, "The recognition of Natural Moral Law provides the common ground between believers and non-believers about the fundamental moral issues affecting the common good and our living together." This is perhaps the greatest strength of this theory, and the reason that it has stood the test of time as well as it has; both theists and atheists can easily agree on the basic principles it promotes, i.e. education, preservation of life etc. However, it has been argued that deontological ethics actually contest the opinions of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, Jesus opposed legalistic morality in the New Testament, and debated sharply with the moral legalists of his time, the Pharisees. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ultimately it is argued that deontological theories do not provide an accurate account of human motivation. Although deontological ethics have many redeeming features, they are often seen as impractical by many for several reasons. In contrast to the opinion that the clear cut rules deontology offers enables people to make easier decisions, the inherent inflexibility of this characteristic is frequently claimed to be a shortcoming. It is seen to cause problems in that it does not respond to changes in ethical evaluations through time, and cannot take into account special circumstances. We have to ask the question: How much of deontological ethics is culture bound? In other words, in what ways have they been influenced by the subjective opinions of those who formulated them? Some people maintain that it is impossible to defend the view that there exists an objective moral law as issues such as euthanasia and homosexuality are accepted in some cultures and rejected completely in others. Seeing as most deontological ethics base themselves around this idea, the challenge damages their standing as workable ethics. Jeremy Bentham, an early Utilitarian philosopher, criticised deontology on the grounds that it was essentially a dressed-up version of popular morality, and that the unchanging principles that deontologists attribute to a universal law or reason are really a matter of subjective opinion. It seems as though no deontological theory is without fault, and although they all have attractive features, their criticisms always seem to render them unworkable in modern day society, and therefore it is justifiable to reject deontology. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Situation ethics

    3 star(s)

    It is able to take the 'least bad' in difficult situations so when there is a tough decision the one with the most love in the outcome would always be chosen which is usually the good one. "It gives a person freedom"4 meaning that it is flexible in the way

  2. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the teleological, deontological and hybrid systems of ethics ...

    For example, this system, unlike the teleological one, is not flexible, and can therefore result in consequences which may be morally wrong, such as the use of cloning to discover medical cures for fatal diseases, which this system would not allow as embryos would be killed, and therefore the action

  1. Compare, contrast and evaluate Plato and Mill on the relationship between individual and society

    Deformed children and children of inferior breeding will be 'put away in some mysterious unknown place as they ought to be'. The works of Homer and Hesiod, two of the earliest Greek poets are banned, as they encourage their readers to fear death, and depict the heavens as being filled with the 'inextinguishable laughter of the blessed Gods'.

  2. Analyse the key features of Virtue Ethics and Deontology; to what extent is one ...

    Aristotle believed that by following the doctrine of the mean that it was the correct way to live, he realised that human behaviour is made of two extremes, vice of excess and vice of deficiency and that the middle of these two is the golden mean.

  1. Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is an unfair system of ethics which could not work in the ...

    It is very difficult, almost impossible, to quantify these pleasures, making it inappropriate and unappealing to follow in the nineteenth century. The hedonic calculus isn't as straightforward as it appears as it questionable whether an action can be declared good by an empirical test in the way the hedonic calculus suggests.

  2. What are the principles of natural law? Every adult has the right to become ...

    To argue against IVF, it is asserted that separating procreation from the fully human context of the conjugal act is morally unacceptable. Procreation involves engaging with each other, which IVF removes. The fact that IVF treatment often leads to spare embryos is perhaps one of the greatest reasons for objections.

  1. Synoptic Study, Satre, Engels and Marx

    The capitalist society is ruled by an elected government yet this does no mean that rights a secured for all, laws are made in order to protect the capitalist. Often capitalist governments exclude and exploit certain groups of people in order to increase profits.

  2. Critically assess the claim that people are free to make their own moral decisions

    Genetic determinism claims physical and behavioural aspects of humanity are determined by predominantly genetics, yet some biologists argue other influences may play a part, e.g. nurture. However genes control a lot of who we are and how we behave. This raises the question if genes determine our actions then how can we be morally responsible?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work