FACTOID # 16: In the 2000 Presidential Election, Texas gave Ralph Nader the 3rd highest popular vote count of any US state.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Deontological

In moral philosophy, deontology is the view that morality either forbids or permits actions, which is done through moral norms. For example, a deontological moral theory might hold that lying is wrong, even if it produces good consequences. Historically, the most influential deontological theory of morality was developed by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who introduced the idea of the categorical imperative.


Contrasted with consequentialist moral theories

Deontological theories of morality are frequently contrasted to consequentialist theories such as utilitarianism. While deontological moral theories typically hold that certain actions are either forbidden or wrong per se, consequentialist theories usually maintain that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on the consequences of the act and hence on the circumstances in which it is performed.

As described by John Rawls, the distinction is between the right and the good: under deontology, what actions are right and what things are good are at least partially independent, whereas under consequentialism, an act is right if and only if it maximises the good.

Another way of distinguishing consequentialism and deontology, as done by Shelly Kagan, is to note that, under deontology, individuals are bound by constraints (such as the requirement not to kill) but are also given options (such as the right not to give money to charity, if they do not wish to). Strict consequentialism recognises neither - instead, one must maximise the good by any and all means necessary.

Contrasted with aretaic moral theories

Aretaic theories often maintain that character as opposed to actions or their consequences should be the focal point of ethical theory. An example is virtue ethics, which tries to describe what characteristics a virtuous person has.

Examples of deontological theories

The most famous deontological theory is that advanced by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant's theory included the idea of a categorical imperative. One expression of the categorical imperative is: "Act so that the maxim [determining motive of the will] may be capable of becoming a universal law for all rational beings." One example of a contemporary deontological moral theory is the contractualism developed by the American philosopher Thomas Scanlon.

See also


  • Deontology, edited by Stephen Darwall (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002). ISBN 0631231129. This is a collection of essays on deontological moral theory.

External links

  • Entry on Duties and Deontological Ethics in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/ethics.htm#Duty%20Theories)

  Results from FactBites:
Deontological vs. utilitarian values for natural resources (6333 words)
Deontological values tended to be seen as protected against tradeoffs with other goods (especially gains of other goods, as opposed to preventing losses), concerned with existence rather than human experience, fundamental values rather than means to other ends, and more connected with active causing of harm than with letting harm happen.
The conclusions suggest that the distinction between utilitarian and deontological values accounts for much of the variance, but there may be sub-distinctions among types of deontological values.
The deontological values are the most interesting, as well as being the most problematical for public policy.
Roughly, a deontological theory denies in some way that the good or what is of value, always takes priority over the right or duty.
Theories holding that there are absolute rights for instance, are deontological in this sense, since they hold that some rights must not be violated even if it would produce the most overall good.
It would simply argue for this deontological cast of mind, as it were, for teleological reasons.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m