Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Virtue Theory

Philosophy. The love of wisdom. Western Philosophy. The Greatest Happiness Of The Greatest Number. This pursuit of happiness is given a theological basis:

Now it is evident from the nature of God, viz. his being infinitely happy in himself from all eternity, and from his goodness manifested in his works, that he could have no other design in creating mankind than their happiness; and therefore he wills their happiness; therefore the means of their happiness: therefore that my behavior, as far as it may be a means of the happiness of mankind, should be such…thus the will of God is the immediate criterion of Virtue, and the happiness of mankind the criterion of the wilt of God; and therefore the happiness of mankind may be said to be the criterion of virtue, but once removed…(and)…I am to do whatever lies in my power towards promoting the happiness of mankind.

Top 5 Greek Philosophers

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about the cosmos, knowledge, and science, existence, values, reason, mind, and language. The father of Philosophy is the Greek Philosopher Thalis who lived around 600 BC in Miletos, a Greek city in Ionia, the Western coast of Asia Minor.

Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy of pre-Socratics.


The terms logic and reason are, in everyday usage, synonymous. To use logic/reason is to draw conclusions that make sense based on a given body of information. (Thus, terms like “logical analysis” and “rational inquiry” are also synonymous.) In the West, logic/reason was first explicitly identified and discussed by the ancient Greeks.

Throughout most of history, all logical analysis was referred to as “philosophy”. Today, however, a distinction is usually drawn between philosophy and science. Philosophy encompasses matters for which objective evidence does not exist, while science covers matters for which it does. (Something is “objective” if it can be physically observed or measured.)


Philosophy may be defined as “the study of existence, knowledge, and values”. The study of existence is often referred to as “metaphysics”, while the study of knowledge is called “epistemology”. The study of values can be divided into two main branches: morality (“ethics”) and beauty (“aesthetics”).

The common ground lies between philosophy and religion (belief in the supernatural). Both philosophers and theologians have asserted belief in supreme beings and have attempted to describe the nature of these beings and their ethical desires. The distinction is that philosophical belief is based on logical argument, whereas religious belief is based on revelation (direct transmission of knowledge to humans from the supernatural, e.g. visions or scripture).

Why Study Philosophy?

Everyone is a philosopher to some extent, given that any examination of existence, knowledge, or values constitutes philosophy. In terms of exposure to the philosophical ideas of others, most people are content with the views they naturally encounter in everyday life (e.g. conversing with family and friends, watching movies and television). With such a rich pool of philosophical opinions, there is arguably no need to consult works of “pure philosophy”.

Indeed, philosophy is often perceived as a difficult, confusing scholarly field of questionable value. This view is not surprising; unlike science, whose arguments only survive if supported by evidence, philosophical arguments cannot be tested. This allows various diseases of philosophy to persist indefinitely, the two most common of which may be ambiguity (which makes it impossible to garner consensus on the meaning of a philosophical argument; if, indeed, the author even had a clear meaning in mind) and intellectual hallucination (in which the author examines aspects of reality that simply don’t exist).

There is no need for the amateur scholar to become lodged in such quagmires, however; Essential Humanities merely prescribes familiarity with the broad course of philosophical thought, along with some basic terminology. Though present-day philosophers work largely in ivory-tower isolation, the historical impact of philosophy is wide-ranging, from science, to government, to religion, to the general outlook and values of societies. And though one might not feel the need to consult philosophers regarding one’s beliefs about the “big questions”, it can be rewarding to know essentially how these questions have been approached through the ages. Table Summary → Click Here

-Law and Justice – Citizen and State – 8.10 Debate: Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Virtue Theory → Click Here

Utilitarianism Ethics

Utilitarianism is a theory of morality that advocates actions that foster happiness or pleasure and oppose actions that cause unhappiness or harm. When directed toward making social, economic, or political decisions, a utilitarian philosophy would aim for the betterment of society as a whole. The History of Utilitarianism → Click Here

Deontology Ethics

In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action. Deontological Ethics → Click Here

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach that emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism). Suppose it is obvious that someone in need should be helped. A utilitarian will point to the fact that the consequences of doing so will maximize well-being, a deontologist to the fact that, in doing so the agent will be acting in accordance with a moral rule such as “Do unto others as you would be done by” and a virtue ethicist to the fact that helping the person would be charitable or benevolent. Virtue Ethics → Click Here

Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyClick Here

Routledge Encyclopedia of PhilosophyClick Here

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