The paper 'Difference between Major Ethical Theories' is a perfect example of a Management Essay. Ethical theories and principles form the basis of ethical analysis. The theories provide the points of reference to obtain guidance when arriving at a decision. There are different theories and as would be expected, each theory tends to provide an emphasis on different points. Every theory hence provides some unique guidance in trying to predict an outcome and what one's duties to other people entail so that their behaviors can be considered to be ethical (Rachels 2003, p. 31).
Ethical theory can only be of use when it is considered with regard to a set of goals which is common. The common goals that are set to be achieved by a theory are known as ethical principles. Among the goals we have the least harm, respecting justice and autonomy and beneficence. With regard to the least harm, none of the choices made is of benefit. If such is the scenario, then a person is supposed to make a choice and take the option which will result in the least harm being caused to the least number of people.
A physician should be concerned about the treatment resulting in a patient getting better (Kimpel 2010, p. 63). The choice of the least harm entails the suffering a patient has to undergo in the treatment process. With regard to respecting independence, it behooves each and every person to allow others to be free in determining the course that their lives are going to take. The principle of justice envisages that ethical theories ought to state which actions are fair when one has done wrong. Utilitarianism is founded on the basis that an action is to be judged as moral or immoral based on its consequences.
Thus, if an action has beneficial consequences, then such an action should be considered right and moral. For Utilitarians, the greatest good is considered as the greatest happiness (Shaw & Barry 2012, p. 63). Happiness was equated to pleasure by Jeremy Bentham while he associated unhappiness with pain. Thus, a life of pleasure could be considered as a good life (Scarre 1996, p. 38). John Stuart Mill dealt with the concern about different types of pleasures.
Mills has a large following among utilitarians for his contention that happiness is to be equated to fulfillment which surpasses simple pleasure resulting in the least unhappiness to people. Utilitarians do not argue for an action being moral on account of maximizing happiness on an individual but rather it is when there is a great good for a whole society (Rachels 2003, p. 31). According to Kant (1997, p. 29) lecture on Duties and Rights, consequences of any action do not have a bearing in judging whether the action is moral or not.
According to Kant, what matters is what motivates the taking of such an action. If actions are undertaken by a person who is driven by a sense of duty, whereby one does an act out of the knowledge that it is right, then such an action should be considered as moral (Kant 1997, p. 31). Kant states that out of nature as human beings, it is possible to know what one's duties are. Since human can reason based on logic, then there are rules which operate universally and which bind each and every person.
Where a person fails to exercise this logic when making a decision then they become inconsistent and hence immoral for not allowing other people the level of freedom that a rational being which one claims to be would. Justice as an ethical standard is concerned with the protection of the rights of individuals (Kant 1997, p. 36). Justice also entails ensuring that people do not have injustices visited upon them and that discrimination does not arise. Discrimination can be gleaned from a situation where people who have the same characteristics are given different treatments.
An ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle had three types of justice these being: retributive, distributive, and compensatory justice.
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