Deontology Vs Consequentialism

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Throughout the field of philosophy, ethics play an extensive role. This branch of knowledge is significantly important within the area of moral philosophy, as the main concept touches on moral principles and behaviour of mankind as a consequence of such principles. LaFollette (2000) expressed his view that as a whole, humanity ‘should better understand ourselves, our place in the world, and our relationship to others’, from which I believe, can be derived through ethics. When studying the behaviour of humans and their proficiency to make decisions, I have learned that there are two leading philosophical positions which determine the way in which we think, both rationally and irrationally, and influence our decisions. These two principles consist of consequentialism and deontology. I intend to analyse how the views of consequentialists differ from that of deontologists and determine whether both views are tenable.…show more content…
An example of this could be a classroom of 20 university students held captive at gunpoint. The captor selects one student at random and tells another student to shoot him/her otherwise he would personally shoot the other 18 students. The condition is that the 18 students will go free if the selected student is shot by his classmate. In this situation, a consequentialist would see that by shooting one innocent person, he is saving the lives of 18 innocent people, so decides this is the best decision morally. Why allow 18 people to die and for 18 families to suffer when he has the opportunity to prevent this and instead minimise the suffering to just one death and one family’s torment? However, in situations of stress, fear or sheer terror, I feel that consequentialists do not always approach the problem having evaluated what is the morally correct way to act, and can deter from the option that will actually benefit more people and their happiness. Say, for example, that the randomly selected student was in actual fact the brother of the student who had been ordered to kill him. The thought of knowing that this is family, and having built an extremely close relationship, the ‘shooter’ student may not be able to live with the fact he killed his brother and choose to let 18 innocents die, whilst living knowing that he could have prevented it. Although a consequentialist, and always wanting to make decisions based on the greatest overall happiness, this can be affected at specific times in a person’s life, where they have overpowering feelings of emotion. Nevertheless, if he had shot his brother, the consequentialist view would have been that the expense to the shooter would be small in comparison with the benefit to the other students, which would have been great. Hospers (1997) also argued this point, stating ‘If you
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