Utilitarian ethics stems from ancient Greek hedonistic models. Hedonism, put simply, is that a person ought to pursue happiness and pleasure. While the utilitarian model generally disregards pleasure, it puts a great emphasis on happiness. This model is egalitarian and sees everyone as equally important. Therefore, utilitarians seek not just the happiness of a single entity but all that are involved. It judges the morality of an action based on how much happiness it can produce. More modern utilitarians have tried to produce a metric for the happiness produced by an action. Jeremy Bentham made Hedonic Calculus which was a 7-tiered guideline for figuring out the quality of happiness produced. Using utilitarianism any action can be deemed morally right if the consequences of that action produce the most happiness. It does not see any action as morally wrong on its own.
Deontology is mostly broken into two categories, act or rule. The act version of deontology believes every situation should be judged individually and no overarching rules can fully determine every situation as morally right. Instead of hard set rules act deontologists have guidelines for how someone should act. Thi...
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...uations and does not always have the greater good in mind it cannot be the governing ethic theory of society.
Virtue ethics would describe a virtuous individual. Courage is a virtue and could apply to this situation. Pulling the lever to switch the trolley and save people would require a courageous individual. Not pulling the lever would be cowardice and not describe a moral individual who would avoid extremes of any virtue. While on the surface virtue ethics looks like a good fit for society it lacks in a few regards. What is a virtue could vary based on the individual. It also does not describe how to react to any situation. An educated guess is all that could be made and this could be nondescript. While it is a great way to describe an individual moral agent, it cannot be easily used to dictate actions and therefore cannot be used as a moral compass for society.
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