Deontological ethics and teleological (utilitarian) ethics

Deontological ethics and teleological (utilitarian) ethics Ethics refers to established principles of moral values that regulate behavior in a society. It defines things that are generally acceptable and those that are not. This paper seeks to explore ethical theories of deontology and teleology.
Teleology is an ethical theory that evaluates morality on basis of consequences. It evaluates both negative and positive impacts of an action to determine the net consequence. An act that is more harmful than beneficial is therefore unethical while one that leads to more benefits that harm is ethical. Deontology however judges actions by aims that drive them and is based on the principles of responsibility. An act undertaken with negative intentions is therefore, under deontology, immoral irrespective of its beneficial consequences. The two theories therefore differ in the principles that while utilitarianism is based on consequences of actions, deontology is based on responsibility and motives into actions (Mann and Roberts, 2012; Ahronheim, Moreno and Zuckerman, 2005).
Both deontology and teleology have inherent problems. Teleology undermines justice as it can promote an unlawful practice as long as the practice results in more benefits than harm. It is also difficult to quantify consequences of actions. Deontology is however rigid and may lead to harmful actions. Similarly, deontology’s observance of rules may lead to confusion especially “ when values or assumptions conflict” (Mann and Roberts, 2012, p. 16).
Teleological ethics that requires attention to consequences is therefore a problem because it may induce conflict with legal provisions since a beneficial consequence may be achieved through illegal means. This means that the theory undermines justice. Social dynamism also means that long term consequences of present actions on future actions cannot be predicted, a matter that further undermines utilitarianism (Mann and Roberts, 2012, p. 16).
Ahronheim, J., Moreno, J. and Zuckerman, C. (2005). Ethics In Clinical Practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Mann, R. and Roberts, B. (2012). Essentials of Business Law and the Legal Environment. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning