Virtue, Kantian and Utilitarianism Ethics Differentiated Essay

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Virtue Ethics

This ethical philosophy draws back from the thought and work of the ancient and great Greek philosopher Aristotle (Brown, 2001; SPI, n.d.; Fahey, 2010). The philosophy centers on persons who are moral agents themselves, rather than from their actions or their consequences. A person lives an ethical or the good life if he possesses a right character, also know as virtues. As such he possesses a moral character, according to the philosophy. These character traits or virtues include courage, temperance, justice, wisdom, patience, generosity and compassion. By observing or living by this philosophy, a person develops good habits that build and make up his character. Because of such a character, he is naturally disposed to act in a certain moral or virtuous way towards situations and persons. He or she does not possess undesirable or vicious traits of character (Brown, SPI. Fahey).

The main objections to this philosophy are the difficulty of ascertaining what traits should be considered virtues and at arriving at a normative standard for living a moral life (Brown, 2001; sPI, n.d.; Fahey, 2010).

Kantian Ethics

Immanuel Kant advocated deontological ethics, based on concrete duties or obligations, whereby certain actions are intrinsically either right or wrong (DSCCOCCIA, n.d.; Joshua, 2011). This means that an act is right or wrong in itself whatever the consequences. An act is right or wrong according to a moral norm by which a person is bound by duty to act. Parents, for example, are obligated to care for their children for their own good and not because of some potential or calculated benefit to the parents, such as the expectation of support from them in old age or need. It is this philosophy, which underscores the tenet that the end does not justify the means (DSCCOCCIA, Joshua).

Kant's ethics states that one must act in pursuit of an end and never in consideration of its means ( DSCCOCCIA, n.d.; Joshua, 2011). Its moral basis is a standard of rationality he calls a categorical imperative. This covers all rational duties (DSCCOCCIA, Joshua).

Objections to this philosophy include those of John Rawls on the matters of justice as fairness.


Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill were the main advocates of this classical ethical philosophy (DSCOCCIA, n.d.) (Joshua, 2011)) (Brown, 2001). It argues that an action is morally right if it maximizes what is good or minimizes the bad or evil. They…

Sources Used in Document:


Brown, C. (2001). Ethical theories compared. Rosalind Hursthouse: Trinity University.

Retrieved on August 16, 2015 from

DSCOCCIA (n.d.). utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, natural rights theories, and religious ethics.

New Mexico State University. Retrieved on August 16, 2015 from

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