Deontological Ethical Systems

Deontological ethical systems hold that actions are morally right or wrong in and of themselves, independently of their good or bad consequences. Views of this kind agree that “the end does not (necessarily) justify the means.” Deontologists thus deny what consequentialist ethical systems affirm, namely, that right actions are all and only those that optimize good consequences. As a result, the terms deontology and nonconsequentialism are sometimes used interchangeably. As opposed to teleological theories, deontological ethical systems do not define rightness and wrongness solely in terms of ends. Often, deontological ethical systems are characterized as being based on the notion of duty or obligation. Various ethical theories are deontological, comprising diverse substantive principles and differing conceptions of ethical justification. Immanuel Kant’s ethics is the most ...

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