Difference Between Consequentialism And Deontology

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For many years there has been a debate between the opposing philosophical frameworks consequentialism and deontology. Some could argue that consequentialisms maxim of "the ends justify the means” as the determinant for a moral action may be inconsistent with other important aspects of value such as rights and allegiance. Others may argue that deontology is simply too restrictive and independent of the context in which it could be applied to. Although these two philosophical frameworks have various pros and cons associated with them, I will argue that consequentialism is the most flexible of the two frameworks.

Consequentialism portrays right action in terms of intrinsic value, stating that the “action is right if…its consequences would be
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For example, imagine a man has a terminal cancer. He tells his doctor that he wants to die as he is in a substantial amount of pain. His family looks on as the man they love is in constant agony and is withering away slowly. In this example, I would be more inclined to accept the consequentialist view. Allowing the man to die by euthanasia allows him to die peacefully without any more suffering. It also relieves his family from the emotional and psychological pain that they received by watching him slowly die. In response to this example, a deontologist might say that the act of taking another life is morally unjust. It would not matter what the family felt, it would not matter the amount of pain the patient felt, and more importantly, his own wishes would not matter in this case. Everything being alike, although many individuals have conflicting moral beliefs, I would say most people would agree that pain is bad, and happiness is good. The rigidness of the deontological perspective, and the insensitivity that it demonstrates on a case like this is one of the reasons that I believe that it is the weaker of the two philosophical frameworks. Another case that shows this rigidity could be an individual who is hiding a Jewish family in their house in Germany during the Third Reich. If the Nazis came to this individual’s door, the individual would not want to be honest because telling the truth would mean the death of the Jewish family. But the deontologist would say because you cannot will lying universally, it is ethically wrong and you should not do it, if you want to live in an honest society. But sometimes it is for the greater good to lie. There are two conflicting duties in this example: the first being the duty of telling the truth, and the second being the duty of saving another human life. There are exceptions as to when lying is morally

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