The comparison and contrast among Utilitarianism, Libertarianism, Moral Imperative, and Virtue Ethics Essay

Utilitarianism has its strengths. Firstly, the utilitarian philosophy recognizes that we all like pleasure and dislike pain. This has also become the basis of moral and political life. That is, maximizing utility is a principle not only for individuals but also for legislators. In deciding what laws or policies to enact, a government should do whatever will maximize the happiness of as a whole.

Secondly, Utilitarianism is probably the most defensible approach in emergency situations. For example, in the wake of the massive earthquake that hit Pakistan in 2005, the medical rescued firstly the people that were most likely to survive because it did little good to spend time on a terminal patient than the people get hurt that might get more benefits from the treatment. However, the frequently criticized weakness of utilitarianism is it fails to respect individual rights. The needs of the individuals are usually ignored to fit the needs of the group or organization.

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That might cause all kinds of abuses to occur. For example, numerous lawsuits charged that Wal-Mart cheated its employees because Mal-Mart didn’t pay overtime salaries and cut labor costs for the greater good of the company. In addition, another weakness is that identifying possible consequences can be difficult or impossible. The reason is that being objective is difficult because people usually tend to favor immediate rewards and ignore long-term risks.This might make Utilitarian decision makers sometimes make different conclusions when they face the same dilemma. For example, one country might want to raise the highway speed but they don’t have the consent of the speed limits, some state legislators decide that the speed of 65 miles per hour produces the greatest good, others may decide the speed of 70 miles per hour generates the most benefits. Besides, Libertarianism also reflects strengths.

The first strength of Libertarianism is self-ownership. This is especially appealing for those who seek a strong foundation for individual rights. Nevertheless, Libertarianism reveals some weaknesses. Firstly, the idea that we owe ourselves figures in many arguments for freedom of choice. That is, if I own my body, my life, and my person, I should be free to do whatever I want with them (if I don’t harm others). Despite the appeal of this idea, its full implications are not easy to embrace. Secondly, Libertarianism focuses on the freedom of choice. Thus, the Libertarian considers the government should not ask taxation and redistribute income.

This will make rich people become richer, but the poor people become poorer. This might hinder one country’s economic or social development and impact the good image of one country. Moreover, there are some strengths of Kant’s Moral Imperative. Firstly, Kant’s imperative is a simple but powerful ethical tool. It provides us one way to prevent a number of unethical behaviors by following a universal standard. That is, emphasis on duty builds moral courage. This makes people resist group pressure to compromise personal ethical such as sexual harassment in the workplace.

Secondly, Kant’s emphasis on respecting the right of others to choose is an important guideline to keep in mind when making ethical choices in organizations. This standard increases the information sharing and concern for others while demanding deceptive and coercive tactics. Nonetheless, Kant’s Moral Imperative also reveals some weaknesses.

Firstly, Kant argued that moral duties or imperatives are categorical—they should be obeyed without exception. However, in almost every case, we can think of exceptions. For example, most of us agree that killing is wrong but still support capital punishment for serial murders. Besides, some people are engaged in evil actions, but they still honestly believe what they did was right. For example, during World War II, the Nazi in Germany convinced people that killing Jews was morally right and encouraged the germen to join with this action.Many germen believed that it was their duty to follow the government’s policies, which was not morally right.

Secondly, conflicting duties also pose a challenge to deontological thinking, which was about that we ought to make choices based on our duty to follow universal truths relating to what we sense intuitively or we identify through reason. Nevertheless, complex ethical dilemmas often involve competing obligations. For example, we should be loyal to our bosses and coworkers. However, sometimes being loyal to a supervisor may make us need to break loyalty with peers, especially when supervisors require us to reveal the source of one rumor that we have promised to keep secret about the coworker’s identity; although we know one of our coworkers might do it. How do we decide which loyal duty is better, to our coworkers, or our supervisor? Kant’s imperative offers little guidance in this kind of situation. Thirdly, by focusing on intention, Kant didn’t emphasize the importance of ethical action.

Thus, this means unless worthy intent is performed, otherwise, the good intent will do little good. Nonetheless, we usually judge people according to what they did, not on their intentions. What’s more, Virtue Ethics contains strengths. Firstly, it seems that teleological thinking is not related to justice. However, it has some certainty of plausibility today.

The main reason is that with the advancement of modern science, nature ceased to be seen as a meaningful order. Thus, to explain natural phenomena from the perspectives of purposes, meanings, and ends are now considered naïve. Despite of the change, the intent to see the world by applying the teleological order as a purposeful whole is not completely absent. For instance, children might be educated to see the world with the teleological order.

However, adults will reject the teleological order in science.The truth is that teleological reasoning is crucial for thinking about social institutions and political practices. Secondly, the moral life aims at happiness. However, Aristotle’s happiness is not the same as the Utilitarianism, which emphasizing the benefits from maximizing pleasure over pain. Aristotle considers that the virtuous person is someone who takes pleasure and pain in the right things.

For example, if someone takes pleasure in watching dog fights, we consider that this is vicious, not a true happiness. Thus, moral excellence cannot be evaluated by accumulating pleasure and pains but in the consent with them. Happiness is not a state of mind but a way of being in accordance with virtue. Thirdly, Aristotle considers that moral virtue is built by the result of habit. That means that we learn moral virtues by practicing them. The progressively virtuous behavior through practice helps people acquire the temperament to act virtuously. Thirdly, practical wisdom is a moral virtue with political implications. People with practical wisdom can deliberate well about what is good, not only for themselves but for their fellow citizens, and for human beings in general.

Deliberation is more than the calculation of the benefits generating from pleasure. It seeks to identify the highest human good attainable under the circumstances. Fourthly, for Aristotle, politics is not economics like the maximizing utility of Utilitarianism, or the pursuit for individual interests of Libertarian. Instead, Aristotle’s perspective of politics is an expression of our nature, an occasion for the unfolding of our human capacities, which is an essential aspect of the good life. Fifthly, the ethics of teleology actually establishes a more demanding moral standard for justice in the workplace than the choice and consent of libertarianism. For example, if employees working under the unpleasant working conditions such as doing dangerous jobs, long working hours, and working in the environment of an assembly line in a chicken processing plant. For Aristotle, even consent regarding to fair background conditions is not sufficient, it has to be suited to the nature of the workers who perform it. In this case, the work needs to be reorganized to fit with the nature of human beings for the justice.

Otherwise, the job is unjust.On the other hand, Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics unveils some weaknesses. Firstly, it doesn’t offer clear guidelines about what to do in moral dilemmas because it assumes that a totally virtuous what to do and we would regard them as role model to guide us. Secondly, lacking of a general consent about what the virtues are. Thus, the virtues might be drawn from the culture.


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