In practice, what can be said for and against deontology, or ethical theories of the right?
Deontology is a sharp contrast to Utilitarianism, in that actions are deemed right or wrong not through their consequences. In the contrary, those actions that are considered to be duties, including obligations, responsibilities and commitments are valued as moral. Deontological ethics aligns very well with the mandates of major religions of the world, including Christianity. For this reason, the theory has drawn criticism. It is easy to see how the concept of ‘good will’ can be equated to divine grace and hence co-opted as a justification of religious dogma. But Deontology has certain clear merits, especially the logic behind the Categorical Imperative that Kant theorized. The main appeal of Categorical Imperative is their emphasis on universal laws.
What is a virtue? How can virtue-based moral reasoning help you resolve an ethical issue in business? Illustrate your points with one or two examples.
The basis of virtue ethics is the understanding that virtues promote human flourishing. Though all virtues have their merits and utility only some of them are relevant for moral-based reasoning. These moral virtues include justice, mercy, generosity, humility, tolerance, compassion, love, etc. Since moderation is a core principle of virtue ethics, it especially helps give moral direction for business leaders. For example, the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) code of conduct asks businesses to focus on people, the environment and only then profits. Many of the virtues such as compassion, generosity and justice are as applicable to businesses as they are to individuals. It is fair to claim that our society would improve significantly if only all businesses would incorporate virtue ethics into their code of conduct. Since character building is central to virtue ethics, it fills the lacuna left by Deontological and Utilitarian ethical models.