Comparing Deontology and Consequentialism

The Deontology theory was introduced by a German philosopher as an ethical approach to professional duties. The theory is based on the belief that people can understand and apply moral laws at all times (Barrow and Khandhar). It helps professionals know what to do in given circumstances because it is entangled with duty. According to this theory, people cannot rely on personal emotions; instead, they are supposed to do what is right (Barrow and Khandhar). Therefore, an action is not judged as good or bad based on morals but rather right or wrong based on the underlying rules. The main forms of deontology are patient-centred, agent-centered, and contractualism.

Consequentialism is a theory that defines an action as good or bad based on its outcomes. This theory is considered correct if an action brings more good than bad (Qizilbash 4). On the other hand, if an action’s badness outweighs its goodness, it is bad. Consequentialism focuses on the outcome’s, whether happiness or pain, to judge an action. However, the main challenge with this theory is to assess the good or badness of the consequences because a good result for one person may be bad for another. This paper will evaluate the two theories by analyzing their pros and cons to find which is better.

Deontological beliefs are divided into two, including categorical and hypothetical imperatives. However, the author focused more on the categorical imperative by defining unconditional and moral absolutes. Kant’s categorical theory states that professionals should be able to make the same decision with uniformity (Tseng and Wang 3). In the healthcare sector, the deontological theory requires doctors to have the ability to make the same decision when faced with a common situation. The theory does not acknowledge the consequences of an action taken as long as it is done within the rules and norms. For example, it is considered wrong to eat beef according to Hindu religious beliefs. Therefore, if a Hindu person eats beef, he will be morally wrong, although there are no negative consequences of doing it. Another example is that cheating is considered wrong in deontological theory. If an engineer learns that a nuclear missile is to be launched and may trigger a war, although he can hack and cancel the launch to save lives, it would be considered wrong because he broke the code of ethics by hacking another network.

Consequentialism theory is based on morals and personal judgment to make a decision. This shows that the consequentialism theory allows for different actions for the same situation. It is mainly criticized because it is challenging to know the consequences of an action before it is taken (Card and Smith 5). Therefore the theory is based on assumptions that a specific action will have negative or positive outcomes. For example, according to consequentialism theory, it is right to enslave people if economists find out that enslaving 3% of the world population would lead to better, healthier, and happier lives for the remaining population. This is because the consequences of enslaving 3% of the population would lead to better outcomes for 97% of the remaining population. However, the deontological theory would be against enslaving people because that is against human rights.

One of the main advantages of deontology theory is that it allows fairness and consistency because a person is supposed to do what is right all the time based on rules. The theory is based on following the law; therefore, there are no contradictions (Tseng and Wang 6). Deontology enables professionals to do what is morally right because it is their duty and universally binding. However, the theory also has its drawbacks because it does not provide a solution to solving disputes that contradict each other. In addition, the theory does not provide flexible room for solving issues because it is based on fixed rules (Tseng and Wang 7). Finally, it may lead to human welfare or misery because people have to act in the line of law even if the action would lead to the suffering of human beings.

The main advantage of consequentialism theory is that it offers a practical solution to ethical dilemmas. Since the theory is based on a person’s judgment about the outcomes of an action, they can make choices in situations that present ethical dilemmas (Card and Smith 4). The method is also simple and allows solving problems easily without having to follow specific rules. On the other hand, the main con for this theory is that it is difficult to quantify how much wellness outweighs evil. Additionally, people have to hope for positive outcomes because no one knows the future. Finally, this method can lead to terrific acts, which can be justified by assuming that they were done for the utmost goodness.

From the evaluation of the two theories, consequentialism is a better theory to use in real life than deontological theory. It is flexible and allows an individual to judge a situation based on the underlying circumstances. For instance, if lying to a thief would help save a life, it is good to lie during that period. However, deontological theory is very much fixed and does not seem suitable because different situations require different solutions. Therefore it is advisable to adopt consequentialism theory because it is more realistic and provides an opportunity to make lives better through doing the utmost good.

Works Cited

Barrow, Jennifer M., and Paras B. Khandhar. “Deontology.” PubMed, StatPearls Publishing, 2022.

Card, Dallas, and Noah A. Smith. “On Consequentialism and Fairness.” Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, vol. 3, 2020, pp. 1–8, 10.3389/frai.2020.00034.

Qizilbash, Mozaffar. “On “Consequentialism” and the Capability Approach.” Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 2021, pp. 1–21, 10.1080/19452829.2021.1951185.

Tseng, Po-En, and Ya-Huei Wang. “Deontological or Utilitarian? An Eternal Ethical Dilemma in Outbreak.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 16, 2021, pp. 1–20. Web.

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