According to the thesis by Tery Hardwicke (2006), the very idea of having to be moral in society is being questioned. One of the reasons supplied by her complete text is that morality is perhaps part of self interest. This concept is then related to having a good life. Living well is one of the many things a person would want to achieve in their lifetimes.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Ethics defined virtue ethics as an approach to what is called as the normative ethics. It emphasizes more on the virtues or moral character of an individual than the rules and actions that surrounds and binds him. With approaching morality, it gives greater focus on the person who does the action than the action done that might be morally questionable.
There are virtues and values that point that one person can be morally important or right. However, that is not just the point of this approach to morality. It points that there are favorable values that are can be strongly considered as character traits of an individual. It is not a habit one person picks up from another individual. It is something learned from other people or by experiences that became a part of the person completely.
To recapitulate, virtue ethics does not focus on the action or the rules that a certain individual is part of in jurisdiction. Instead, it focuses more on the moral character one has. These traits are the criteria or basis from which one person acts and reacts towards any idea or issue. It may not be part of their nature from the beginning. It might be the values that were nurtured into them since their childhood. Fully implemented into their current standing, it becomes reflective in the actions that they do.
In the aforementioned thesis, consequentialist approach to theories is considered as an ethical egoistic approach to morality. It also means that it is means of finding the best consequences for the above mentioned agent, which is the self interest of individuals. There are criticisms regarding the theory and approach of the consequentialists, but the thesis provided that the problem does not rely with the theory, but mostly with the approach.
Moreover, according to an online encyclopedia, the theory of consequentialist has three principles. These are (1) ethical egoism, which points that one action can be considered morally right when the consequences is more favorable than otherwise to the agent who performs the action; (2) ethical altruism, which points that an action is morally right when it is more favorable to everyone except for the one who does the action; and (3) utilitarianism, which points that the action is morally right when it is in favor of everyone regardless of who made the action.
To summarize the consequentialist approach, it simply means that individuals are morally right when the consequences of their actions are rather favorable. It is finding benefits among other things. Emerged from it are three subcategories, which are ethical egoism, ethical altruism and utilitarianism.
On the other hand, the non-consequentialist approach to morality, according to an article from Colin Richardson, is that there are actions that will always be wrong regardless of how much benefit can be reaped in by the agents and those affected by these actions. Being a more rigid approach to handling concerns with regards to morality, this approach is not always the choice of preferences when making decisions. Since the only option an agent can have is (1) what he did is wrong or (2) what he did is right does not leave room for the subjectivity of the situation. Although ethical dilemmas can only have two true sides to a problem, motives and consequences are factors that are not considered when approaching morality with this concept.
Among these concepts, I believe that the best option to take on ethical dilemmas is that of the consequentialist approach. This allows the subjectivity of the action while still taking into consideration what is good and what is bad. In a world where there are always gray areas, it cannot be said that there is just an absolute right and absolute wrong.
Moreover, the other two concepts cannot be always helpful. Although it can support the aims of the consequentialist approach, the theory in itself is somehow weak. With regards to virtue ethics, although looking at the moral character of the individual is important when considering an ethical dilemma, it does not mean that the characteristic that person has is always good for all the members of the community from which ethical standards are set. If the focus of the theory is on the capacity of an individual to do good, then whose perspective is taken—the community or of the individual?
Simultaneously, I do not agree that the non consequentialist approach is a viable choice when discussing ethical dilemmas. The reason behind this claim is that the action is not always the point that should be judged. Actions are not always bad in nature. I believe there are ideas and misconceptions about it which lead to the idea that one action is always bad. Although these questionable action are not always recommended for practice, it does not mean that they are completely wrong either. I will continue to believe that these actions are considered wrong because to the ideas that made the action perceived with construed facts.
I believe these are the concepts that should be applied in decision making or ethical dilemmas. It does not mean that I do not believe or have interest in the other arguments that relays and refers to similar ideas, it is just that these are the basic concepts and theories that should always be remembered. It covers the different aspects of a case, and would be able to help in looking at the different sides of the issue with regards to morality. Moreover, since ethics are considered as culture based, these concepts are broad enough to surpass those boundaries, allowing it to be applicable to an array of questions and possibilities.
Fieser, J. (2006). Ethics. Retrieved August 6, 2008 from http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/ethics.htm#SH2c.
Hardwicke, T. (2006). Virtue and self interst. Retrieved August 6, 2008 from http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:ec6Vfu_ZNqYJ:adt.waikato.ac.nz/uploads/approved/adt-uow20070612.112922/public/01front.pdf+consequentialist+approach+to
Hursthouse, R. (2007). Virtue ethics. Retrieved August 6, 2008 from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/.
Richardson, C. (n.d.).Ethical leadership: An in-depth look at consequentialism vs non-cosequentialism. Retrieved August 6, 2008 from http://jcc-good-leadership.tripod.com/id11.html.