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Evaluating Three Ethical Theories

Write a paper evaluating three ethical theories. Compare and contrast as well as discuss the strengths
and weakness of each.
Also, the paper must be written in accordance with APA writing standards. Appropriate citation is required
and 7 scholarly sources is a must.

Evaluating Three Ethical Theories

People who engage in research studies that involve human beings as their subjects are
required to adhere to regular procedures aimed at obtaining an ethical approval. When a problem
is encountered within a community or an organization, people are bound to resort different

ethical views and opinions that depend on their personalized views. The existence of various
ethical positions on an action may result in different judgments.
Such ethical judgment’s positions on an action are primarily categorized into three main
theories. These theories include the principles or deontological theories, consequential or
utilitarian approaches, and virtues theories. This paper seeks to provide a comparative and
contrastive evaluation on the three principle theories that establish the manner in which
judgments are made and applied in an ethical manner.
Consequentiality Theory

This ethical theory emphasizes on the repercussions and consequences of a specified
course of action. In consideration of this ethical theory, an institution or individual is in a
position to provide judgment on a specified action based on the possibility of its effects to an
action (Paul & Elder, 2011). According to this ethics of consequences, the effects of an action
are likely to establish the worthiness of an ethical action.
When a society considers the outcomes of some particular actions as immoral, then such
an action is considered unethical within the values of such a society. The end results of this
ethical theory are noted in its advantage that achieves a predetermined action to the
consequences of some unethical conduct with the aim of maintaining the society’s happiness,
knowledge, and resources (Paul & Elder, 2011). Thus, it is important to establish that the
extreme position of this theory lies in the fact that the end has the capacity to justify the means.

Deontological Theory

The deontological theory on the other hand is considered as an ethics of principles.
According to Winebrenner (2012), this is an ethical judgment approach that is primarily based on

an action rather than its consequences. In ethics of principles, an argument is provided that
details the need to establish actions that abide and adhere to ethical principles that are perceived
as moral (pp.115). When this is not achieved, such an action may be considered as immoral. For
instance, respect, justice, and honesty are some of the actions that adhere to moral principles of
different societies.
According to the views of Kant and Maxim, there is a need to treat each and every person
as an end in their selves but not as a means only. These philosophers also detail that individuals
need to act as if the maxim of their actions is the only universal law that is in existence in nature.
This principle of ethics is consequently classified as the primary rules that guide ethics in
different research studies (Winebrenner, 2012). In this case, it is important to consider that this
principle is advantageous since its intentional position may result into a moral dictated state. The
primary aim of this ethical theory is to ensure individual abide and adhere to absolute principles
irrespective of their specific actions that resonate around their human consequences.
Virtue Theory:
The virtue theory is also known as the ethics of utilitarianism. The ethical consideration
of this theory opines the need to asses a sensitive approach within the context of a specified
action. In other words, the ethics of utilitarianism initiates a judgment position that views ethical
behaviors of researchers as an extent in which a researcher is required to internalize and
understand the moral values of a community in study (Bowie, 2015). This establishes the need
of the researcher to display a personal integrity in developing a relationship with the community
they conduct their studies, an aspect that is inspired by their interactions with the ethical values
of such a community.

Under this theory, the judgment position of a researcher wholly depends on his feelings,
perceptions, and skills including his/her ability to negotiate with those to ascent to participate in
a study within a community (Bowie, 2015). This is supported by the fact that the feelings and
perceptions of a researcher may vary depending on the ethical background of a researcher, an
aspect that may result in the survival of a study without the inclusion of procedures and

Comparison of these Theories

The deontological theory of ethics and the consequential theory are significantly similar
since they are known to raise similar questions. The two theories are bound to raise questions
that tend to consider whether there are ethical principles that exist (Oh & Yoon, 2014). On the
other hand, these two theories are known to contradict the objective that it is important to
develop internal principles that are aimed at providing judgment in absolutism.
Alternatively, the deontological theory of ethics and the consequential theory also raise
questions that establish whether the principles ethics of a community rely upon their values. The
consequentiality theory therefore supports the theory of deontological principles in justifying the
view that the ethical position of an action relies in the end results of an action (Oh & Yoon,
2014). In this case, it is arguable that the society has the capacity to form principles that guide
their judgment on different actions based on the received outcomes of such actions. The society
on the other hand has the capacity to set principles that guide their actions in abiding to the
predicted outcomes of these actions.

Contrast of the Theories

It is important to note that these three ethical theories emphasize on different element that
relate to different ethical decisions and choices. In this case, it can be established that certain

actions may result in different outcomes that is detailed in each theory (Oh & Yoon, 2014). For
instance, a researcher may consider cheating a community on the intent of his research with the
aim of achieving his goals while maintaining a positive image to the community about his study.
The principle of deontological ethics therefore differs with the researchers approach since it
supports the need for honesty as a universal principle, an aspect that rejects the action of
deception even when the outcomes of the study to the community and the researcher are
In contrast to this, the consequentiality theory may tend to justify such deceptive actions
committed by a researcher based on the consideration that the study may benefit the community
by yielding positive outcomes to the society in bettering their wellbeing and knowledge.
However, the principle of ethics of value may regard its judgment based on the researchers
reasoning capacity and ethical skills within the research context (Bonner, 2016). In any case the
deception is perceived by a community as ethical then such an action may be justified as moral.
In a case where the deceptive action of the researcher is viewed as unethical within a community,
then his actions are nullified and deemed as unethical or immoral.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Theories

The consequentiality theory can be applied in different situations since its decisions are
measured against the outcomes and consequences of different actions. This is different from the
deontology principle that requires rules that govern such ethical decisions, with decisions failing

to have a rule associated with them (Yazdani & Murad, 2015). On the other hand, virtue ethics
takes an examination of a decision within the context of an individual’s character, an aspect that
is disapproved by dispositions that are considered as virtues. On the other hand, the
consequentiality principle can be applied systematically, especially when the values of
consequences are established in a practical life setting.
On the other hand, the deontological theory is essential in ensuring that the motivation
behind every action is values over its consequences. In this case, an immoral action may not be
justified by perceived good consequences but good motives are considered as worth of value
(Yazdani & Murad, 2015). On the other hand, this principle believes that justice is absolute even
in a case where majority of the population does not benefit from it, thus recognizing the value of
moral absoluteness.
The ethics of utilitarianism also known as virtue theory focuses on the maximization of
the overall good, thus seeking to understand the good of others as well as that of an individual
(Yazdani & Murad, 2015). This therefore, guides individuals in making ethical decisions that
bring pleasure for the greatest population.
The application of the consequentiality theory in the decision making process is
considered as time-consuming and complex since it requires that consequences are identified
within the process and accounted (Albert, Reynolds & Turan, 2015). Secondly, the application of
this process results in a limitation since individuals may be challenges in ascertaining the
consequences of an action in marking a perfect decision or judgment.

The deontological theory also complicates the process of decision making since moral
obligations are considered as arbitrary since the decisions of individuals are influenced by

several factors, an aspect that questions whether duty remains a good motive as suggested by
Lastly, the ethics of utilitarianism may result in the development of decisions that may
violate the human rights of different individuals if applied in decision making (Albert,
et.al.2015). This is attributed to the fact that what is perceived as good for some individuals may
on the other hand violate the rights of others. An instance of this can be depicted in a middle
class individual needing an organ transplant.
When such an individual donates a huge chunk of money to a charity in exchange for an
organ transplant, the principle of utilitarianism takes cognizance of these actions and considers it
ethical since good results from the recipient of the organ would result from the donation made
(Albert, et.al.2015). However, other individuals may perceive this as unethical since the
individual uses his wealth as an advantage to achieve his goal.

As established, the three ethical principles discussed in this study provide different
grounds under which judgments are made within different contexts. Under a normal
circumstance, a judgment is made based on the general principles, community’s perceptions, and
consequences of an action that depend on the moral outcomes of ac action.


Albert, L., Reynolds, S., & Turan, B. (2015). Turning Inward or Focusing Out? Navigating
Theories of Interpersonal and Ethical Cognitions to Understand Ethical Decision-Making.
Journal Of Business Ethics, 130(2), 467-484.


Bonner, K. (2016). Arendt, role theory and the ethical evaluation of action. Irish Journal Of
Sociology, 24(2), 200-225.
Bowie, N. (2015). Richard De George and the Use of Ethical Theory in Applied Ethics. Journal
Of Business Ethics, 127(4), 699-706.
Oh, J., & Yoon, S. (2014). Theory-based approach to factors affecting ethical consumption.
International Journal Of Consumer Studies, 38(3), 278-288.

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