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From the religion you have studied, discuss the view that religious ethics must be either deontological or teleological, but cannot be both

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Introduction

From the religion you have studied, discuss the view that religious ethics must be either deontological or teleological, but cannot be both. To answer this question, this essay will firstly give a definition and brief explanation of what is meant by deontological and teleological. Secondly, I will describe how Christian ethics can be deontological and how they can be teleological, giving examples and using ethical theories, to illustrate each. Finally, I will try to give an idea about how a religious ethic can combine elements of a deontological with a teleological approach, including my own personal views of the argument. Deontological Ethics (from the Greek Deon, meaning obligation) is an ethical theory considered solely on duty and rights, where one has an unchanging moral obligation to abide by a set of defined principles. Thus, the ends of any action never justify the means in this ethical system. If someone were to do their moral duty, then it would not matter if it had negative consequences. When we follow our duty, we are behaving morally. When we fail to follow our duty, we are behaving immorally. Teleological moral systems are characterised primarily by a focus on the consequences which any action might have. Thus, in order to make correct moral choices, we have to have some understanding of what will result from our choices. When we make choices which result in the correct consequences, then we are acting morally; when we make choices which result in the incorrect consequences, then we are acting immorally. ...read more.

Middle

In the way that Kant's Categorical Imperative states that issues surrounding a problem should not be considered, Situation Ethics urges the moralist to take every issue into account. Furthermore, probably the main contrasting aspect of these two moral codes is their consideration for effects or results. Essentially, Situation Ethics is primarily concerned with the possible outcome of an action, in terms of whether it will create the most loving conclusion. Whereas a deontological approach dismisses worries about the possible outcome, stating that it is unnecessary and that the only thing that need be considered is an act's coherence to a pre-existing moral code. Situation Ethics would also appeal to Christians, more than Kant's theory would. Fletcher held that every ethical system requires a faith commitment, rather than Kant's fixation with deriving principles from reason alone. Fletcher's opinion that love is the only norm would also fit into a Christian's beliefs, rather than a theory that states you should act out of a personal sense of what you believe to be right. Situation Ethics also displays areas that appear to be more successful at tackling moral issues than a teleological approach. The main downfall with utilitarianism, a teleological theory, is similar to the deontological's, namely, its ability to neglect individualism. Although its simple rule "the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people" is similar to that of Situation Ethics, it still undervalues the impact of the individual. ...read more.

Conclusion

Paul Lehmann who is very much with Joseph Fletcher's situation ethics approach says, "Christian ethics is not concerned with the good, but what I, as a believer in Jesus Christ and as a member of his church, am to do. Christian ethics, in other words, is orientated toward revelation and not toward morality." Many believers would then do good actions with good outcomes in order to show their faith in the church and Jesus Christ. Whether Christian ethics is teleological or deontological can be debated. In either case, however, it is concerned with norms or standards. It is not interested simply in describing the patterns of people's actions, in analysing their moral beliefs, customs and practices. That is a function of the social sciences, which try to avoid making value judgements. They are not in the business of saying that this way of acting is good and that way is bad. The most that they will say is that this way of acting achieves certain results and that way of acting achieves other results. The essence of religious ethics, however, is the making of value judgements. Its nature is to be prescriptive rather than descriptive. It is to recommend a way of acting either for the achievement of certain desirable goals (teleological) or as a response to certain fundamental relationships (deontological). Christianity can therefore be approached from a deontological or teleological view point. As we can see not all Christians agree on all issues and the different denominations of Christians differ slightly on their judgements and values. Rosa Lenders ...read more.

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