Theories of Morality The three main theories of morality include Aristotle’s, Kant’s, and Mill’s. According to Aristotle, morality and ethics should be concerned with the possession of one’s capability to be virtuous or to be in possession of virtues. Being virtuous is associated with character, which involves ones possession of excellent behavior. Aristotle was concerned with the ultimate goal of being happy and being able to live well within a community. One would also mention that one has to employ the power of reason in an effort to be morally right and to co-exist happily within the community.
The perspective of Immanuel Kant seems quite different. It is focused on duty and an appreciable extent of obligation (Dark, 2010). He appears to believe that every human being is faced with a responsibility to the right thing in situations where he or she needs to make an ethical decision. This is based on the premise of moral law, which means that Kant adopts a legalistic point of view in theorizing morality. In this regard, Kant draws heavily on the power of reason, as opposed to that of character. Mill adopts a slightly similar perspective.
He believes that morality boils down to what is good for all – an approach to classical utilitarianism. The perspective is focused on propagating the idea that what is moral and ethical is what benefits the most people in society. Having understood the different perspective as presented by the three philosophers, it is important to discuss them in the context of the extent to which they resonate with me. First, I would mention that, as a person, I believe that the ultimate power that can help in the accomplishment the wellbeing of the entire society is character.
An important understanding that I have come to deduce from the things I have learned through the diverse experiences I have had is that, while it is important to facilitate the overall success and wellbeing of the community, this goal is not possible to accomplish unless the right values are propagated. People, as individuals within the society, have to share common beliefs, attitudes, and values in an effort for them to behave in the same way for the benefit of all (Kurzynski, 2012). With this in mind, I believe that we make ethical decisions based on what they believe is right, which results in the overall wellbeing of the rest of the society.
As such, I believe that the perspectives of Kant and Mill are fundamentally informed by the premise of virtue, which amounts to character. In addition, it is possible, though not very common, for character to be shared and practiced within a community. The perspective developed by Aristotle takes priority as far as I am concerned. Quite unfortunately, the modern world has propagated extensive individualism, which has been driven by the politics and philosophy of capitalism.
This means that individual happiness, which Aristotle would say is quite inconsequential, takes priority in the modern-day society, as I have come to observe within my own culture. It is appreciable that utilitarianism can be said to be quite applicable in our society today. However, it has not been adopted as it has been defined by Mill. The legalistic sense of duty can also not be said to be applied in the modern culture, where duty and obligation are only applicable as long as they benefit the person, as opposed to society (Younkins, 2001).
Dark, M. J. (2010). Information Assurance and Security Ethics in Complex Systems: Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. New York: IGI Global. Print
Kurzynski, M. (2012). Peter Drucker: modern day Aristotle for the business community. Journal of Management History 18 (1), 6-23.
Younkins, E. (2001). Morality and Character Development: The Roles of Capitalism, Commerce, and the Corporation. Journal of Markets and Morality 4 (1), 1.