You are on page 1of 5

2/21/2015

EthicsTheories:UtilitarianismVs.DeontologicalEthicsChristianResearchInstitute

AboutCRI Contact Connect App Speaking Canada Feed

Home Bookstore Broadcast Magazine Articles Donate

Ethics Theories: Utilitarianism


Vs. Deontological Ethics
ArticleID:DE1971|By:J.P.Moreland

28

ThefollowingisanexcerptfromarticleDE1971fromtheChristianResearchInstitute.Thefullpdfcan
beviewedbyclickinghere.

EthicsTheoriesUtilitarianismVs.DeontologicalEthics

http://www.equip.org/article/ethicstheoriesutilitarianismvsdeontologicalethics/

1/5

2/21/2015

EthicsTheories:UtilitarianismVs.DeontologicalEthicsChristianResearchInstitute

Therearetwomajorethicstheoriesthatattempttospecifyandjustifymoralrulesandprinciples:
utilitarianismanddeontologicalethics.Utilitarianism(alsocalledconsequentialism)isamoraltheory
developedandrefinedinthemodernworldinthewritingsofJeremyBentham(17481832)andJohn
StuartMill(18061873).
Thereareseveralvarietiesofutilitarianism.Butbasically,autilitarianapproachtomoralityimpliesthat
nomoralact(e.g.,anactofstealing)orrule(e.g.,Keepyourpromises)isintrinsicallyrightorwrong.
Rather,therightnessorwrongnessofanactorruleissolelyamatteroftheoverallnonmoralgood
(e.g.,pleasure,happiness,health,knowledge,orsatisfactionofindividualdesire)producedinthe
consequencesofdoingthatactorfollowingthatrule.Insum,accordingtoutilitarianism,moralityisa
matterofthenonmoralgoodproducedthatresultsfrommoralactionsandrules,andmoraldutyis
instrumental,notintrinsic.Moralityisameanstosomeotherenditisinnowayanendinitself.
Spacedoesnotallowforadetailedcritiqueofutilitarianismhere.Sufficeittosaythatthemajorityof
moralphilosophersandtheologianshavefounditdefective.Onemainproblemisthatutilitarianism,if
adopted,justifiesasmorallyappropriatethingsthatareclearlyimmoral.Forexample,utilitarianismcan
beusedtojustifypunishinganinnocentmanorenslavingasmallgroupofpeopleifsuchactsproduce
amaximizationofconsequences.Buttheseactsareclearlyimmoralregardlessofhowfruitfulthey
mightbeforthegreatestnumber.
Forthisandotherreasons,manythinkershaveadvocatedasecondtypeofmoraltheory,
deontologicalethics.DeontologicalethicsisinkeepingwithScripture,naturalmorallaw,andintuitions
fromcommonsense.TheworddeontologicalcomesfromtheGreekworddeonwhichmeans
bindingduty.
Deontologicalethicshasatleastthreeimportantfeatures.First,dutyshouldbedonefordutyssake.
Therightnessorwrongnessofanactorruleis,atleastinpart,amatteroftheintrinsicmoralfeatures
ofthatkindofactorrule.Forexample,actsoflying,promisebreaking,ormurderareintrinsically
wrongandwehaveadutynottodothesethings.
Thisdoesnotmeanthatconsequencesofactsarenotrelevantforassessingthoseacts.Forexample,
adoctormayhaveadutytobenefitapatient,andheorshemayneedtoknowwhatmedical
consequenceswouldresultfromvarioustreatmentsinordertodeterminewhatwouldandwouldnot
benefitthepatient.Butconsequencesarenotwhatmaketheactright,asisthecasewithutilitarianism.
Rather,atbest,consequenceshelpusdeterminewhichactionismoreinkeepingwithwhatisalready
ourduty.Consequenceshelpusfindwhatisourduty,theyarenotwhatmakesomethingourduty.
Second,humansshouldbetreatedasobjectsofintrinsicmoralvaluethatis,asendsinthemselves
andneverasameremeanstosomeotherend(say,overallhappinessorwelfare).Aswewillseein
PartTwo,thisnotionisverydifficulttojustifyifoneabandonsthetheologicaldoctrineofmanbeing
madeintheimageofGod.Nevertheless,justifiedorunjustified,deontologicalethicsimplythathumans
http://www.equip.org/article/ethicstheoriesutilitarianismvsdeontologicalethics/

2/5

2/21/2015

EthicsTheories:UtilitarianismVs.DeontologicalEthicsChristianResearchInstitute

areendsinthemselveswithintrinsicvalue.
Third,amoralprincipleisacategoricalimperativethatisuniversalizablethatis,itmustbeapplicable
foreveryonewhoisinthesamemoralsituation.Moralstatementsdonotsay,Ifyouwanttomaximize
pleasurevs.paininthisinstance,thendosuchandsuch.Rather,moralstatementsareimperativesor
commandsthatholdforallexamplesofthetypeofactinconsideration,suchastruthtelling.Moral
statementssay,keepyourpromises,donotmurder,andsoforth.

ChristianResearchInstitute
OurMission:
Doyoulikewhatyouareseeing?Yourpartnershipisessential.SupportCRI...becauseTruth
Matters.
DonateNow|SubscribetoChristianResearchJournal|VisitCRIBookStore

April17th,2009byChristianResearchInstitute|Type:Standard
FiledUnder:Bioethics,ChristianArticles

DefilingtheUndefiled

IsDispensationalismIndispensable?

YouSayYouWantaRevolution?

WhoArethe144,000ofRevelation?

http://www.equip.org/article/ethicstheoriesutilitarianismvsdeontologicalethics/

3/5

2/21/2015

EthicsTheories:UtilitarianismVs.DeontologicalEthicsChristianResearchInstitute

ThoughtsonJasonCollins,Homosexuality,andAthletics

AssessingtheLegacyofDr.MartinLutherKing,Jr.

TheFollyofAnsweringDistractingAtheisticArguments

Mormonism:Christian,Cult,or???

http://www.equip.org/article/ethicstheoriesutilitarianismvsdeontologicalethics/

4/5

2/21/2015

Articles

EthicsTheories:UtilitarianismVs.DeontologicalEthicsChristianResearchInstitute

>

Apologetics:StillRelevantToday?
BiblicalHistory:TheFaultyCriticismofBiblicalHistoricity
BiblicalArchaeology:FactualEvidencetoSupporttheHistoricityoftheBible

BibleAnswers

>

FinalThoughtsTheCreationAnswerBook
WilltheCreatedCosmosBeResurrectedorAnnihilated?
HowCantheEternalSonofGodBetheFirstbornoverAllCreation?

BibleAnswerMan

>

QuranicErrors,andQ&A
MuslimSects,andQ&A
Q&A:Baptism,Lucifer,andReprobation

Videos

>

BiblicalParentingandDiscipline
HowOftenShouldWeTakeCommunion?
TheSovereigntyofGod

AskHank:1.888.ASK.HANK|ContactCRI:1.888.7000.CRI|ConnectwithCRI
P.O.Box8500Charlotte,NC28271
2015ChristianResearchInstitute|Terms&Privacy

http://www.equip.org/article/ethicstheoriesutilitarianismvsdeontologicalethics/

5/5