Ethical Theories and Application

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ETHICAL THEORIES AND APPLICATION Virtue Ethics Virtue ethics consider only the motivation of the acts and not whether or not they are consistent with rules or whether those acts result in benefit or harm to others (Hursthouse, 2003). For example, according to virtue ethics, a person who steals a loaf of bread because he has no money on him is acting ethically if his only motive for that act is to feed a starving person. That analysis differs from other forms of ethical analysis, such as utilitarianism and deontology. More specifically, utilitarian ethics would not condone the same act because it would consider the detrimental affect on the owner of the store as well as the wider implications of extending the same type of "Robin Hood" behavior throughout society (Hursthouse, 2003). Likewise, deontological ethical analysis would condemn the act because it violates the rules and laws about theft (Boatright, 2008). However, because virtue ethics focuses on the motivation for behavior, it would not support the very same act if it were performed for less virtuous reasons, such as to impress others who were aware of it or because the actor hoped that he might increase his likelihood of favorable judgment in the eyes of God. Utilitarianism Utilitarian ethics consider primarily whether or not a given act is beneficial or harmful to all persons affected by it and values acts that have the greatest benefit and the least detriment to the largest number of people (Boatright,
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