Ethics - Moral Theory Ethics Essay

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Deontological theory might criticize Guido's choice if the initial assumptions included the rule prohibiting lying. However, deontological analysis is only as useful as the underlying rules with respect to which it is applied. Therefore, the solution to the deontological issues raised by the issue presented by the movie is simply to reformulate a less restrictive rule that is incapable of being applied to every situation. Instead of proposing the rule that prohibits lying, the better rule might be to prohibit only lying for immoral purposes.

In fact, the blind adherence to rules under deontological principles often produces distinctly immoral results: it is difficult to imagine the moral purpose of informing a dying patient that a loved one was also killed in the same accident; nor is there a moral purpose for informing a child who is to young to understand the concept that he was adopted. In Guido's case, the sole purpose of his deception was to spare his child the fear and heartache of knowing that they were scheduled to be separated at gunpoint and probably gassed on arrival to concentration camps in Germany.

Virtue ethicists would inquire only into the intended motivation of the deception and its purpose. If its motivation and purpose was for personal gain or to trick another individual into giving up something of value to the deceiver, the intentional deception would violate fundamental moral principles. Conversely, where the only conceivable motive for the deception is to benefit the deceived or to spare the deceived from fear or pain, virtue ethicists would also support Guido's decision.


Human ethical values provide principles for distinguishing moral conduct from
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immoral conduct, which requires a method of analyzing various forms of conduct. In general, ethical rules are sufficient to establish a framework for the analysis of specific occurrences, but even the best ethical system is only as useful as its rules are applicable to all situations. In most cases, the general ethical rule against lying is useful for preventing immoral conduct. However, exceptions in the types of motivation ordinarily associated with lies may exceed the useful limits of adhering to those rules in each and every situation.

A support the choice made by Guido, precisely because his only motivation was for the benefit of his son who he wished to spare from painful knowledge and from a longer period of fearfulness than necessary, particularly because his son was so young.

Had his son been older and the situation such that he might have chosen to try to escape or join the local resistance forces, Guido would not have been justified in any deception that deprived his son of the right to exercise his own autonomous choice of action.

In my past, I was aware of a situation in which a family acquaintance had kept the information of his wife's passing from her mother, herself nearly on her death bed in a foreign country. The friend even went so far as to have other members of the wife's family pretend to have recently visited with her. At the time, I was troubled by the deception because it violated the formal rule that I had been taught about lying.

Eventually, I realized that no moral purpose would have been achieved by burdening the mother with additional emotional trauma so close to her own death. In retrospect, I support that decision for the same reason as I support Guido's choice in the…

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