Comparing Utilitarianism, Deontology, Virtue Ethics, and American Indian Ethics

Classified in Philosophy and ethics

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Utilitarianism - Mill

  • Why intentions/duty/inclination don't really matter (for Utilitarianism):

To utilitarians, intentions don't matter because when looking at a situation you need to strip away the intentions so that you can look at the act alone as good or bad

  • Explain why happiness/pleasure is the desired goal of morality in Utilitarianism

Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote overall human happiness

  • The relationship between virtue and disinterestedness

Virtue can still be desired but should be desired disinterestedly (so basically not gaining virtue for your own benefit)

Deontology - Kant

  • Principle of volition

A principle that governs any rational will

  • Why/how consequences aren't the deciding factor for ethical goodness

Deontology derives the goodness of one's conduct from the character of the behavior itself rather than the outcomes of the conduct

  • Maxim

A maxim is the rule or principle on which you act.

Virtue Ethics - Aristotle

  • Human virtue situated within non-human virtues

The excellence of the eye makes both the eye and its work good; for it is by the excellence of the eye that we see

  • Intellectual Virtues Vs. Moral Virtues

Intellectual Virtue = Comes about through teaching and develops over time (Ex. Wisdom and Understanding, Perseverance, Intellectual Humility, etc.)

Moral Virtue = Moral Virtues = not innate - they are acquired by developing the habit of exercising them. An individual becomes truthful by acting truthfully, or becomes unselfish by acting unselfishly.

  • Role/importance of habit

Our natural tendencies, the raw material we are born with, are shaped and developed through a long and gradual process of education and habituation

American Indian Ethics – Wildcat

  • Major differences between Western and American Indian philosophies/worldviews, both metaphysically and ethically

Rejects Western emphasis on ethics as pertaining only to humans in relation with each other

Freedom of religion is more of a western point of view, which contradicts Native Americans beliefs on religion because their religion includes the environment and geography around them

Nonhuman animals & plants are relatives NOT resources

  • World as dynamic, not static - principle of emergence

Native Americans think of the world as dynamic, not static - which acknowledges the biological and physical principles of emergence

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