Theories concern ideas of how things are or how things ought to be. Ethical theories are concerned with what morally ought to be the case. There are three types of general ethical theories: Consequentialism, Deontology, and Human Nature Ethics. Consequentialism is mainly concerned with bringing about proper ends of acting.
Its descriptive claim is that every action seeks a particular end. Deontology concentrates on moral duty, i. e. , the general principles that ought to guide our actions. Moreover, it claims that humans are rational and free; the intention of the person determines whether an action is moral. Human Nature Ethics concerns with what it means to live a good life.
That is, one should act in such a way that one lives a good life depending on how one defines 'good'. It claims that humans are basically good. Ethical Egoism and Virtue Ethics are two ethical theories that fall under one of these general ethical theories. The focus of this paper is on these two ethical "sub-theories." I will start with Ethical Egoism.
The authors of "Ethical Issues in Business" state that this consequential theory interprets "right action as action whose consequences, considered among all the alternatives, maximizes my good- that is, action that benefits me the most or harms me the least." (3) Thus, ethical egoism falls under the consequentialistic theory that claims that moral conduct is determined solely by a cost-benefit analysis of an action's consequences. The normative claim of ethical egoism is that one should act so as to maximize good and minimize bad for oneself. The foundational claim for this theory is that humans are poorly self-interested and there are no moral demands beyond self-interest, i. e. , no obligations to anyone other than 'myself'.
Therefore, under this theory, it is understood that humans should act selfishly if they wish to live healthy and meaningful lives. The second theory to be discussed is Virtue Ethics. Virtue Ethics falls under the general theory of Human Nature Ethics. This theory is traditionally associated with Aristotle. The human nature approach, as described in "Ethical Issues in Business", "assumes that all humans have inherent capacities that constitute the ultimate basis for all ethical claims.
Actions are evaluated in terms whether they promote or hinder, coincide with or conflict with, these capacities." (10) That is, if an action helps a person to develop their potential it is morally good, but if it does the opposite then it is morally bad. Aristotle's virtue ethics emphasizes the development of character as its central theme rather than trying to define 'goodness' or 'rightness'. It holds happiness to be our highest goal. According to Aristotle, "in action where a choice is possible one exercises moral virtue by restraining harmful desires and cultivating beneficial ones." The fundamental claim of this theory is that all humans have the inherent potentialities of wisdom and intelligence.
In conclusion, I must say that I see many faults with both of these theories and therefore I do not agree with any of them. In regards to ethical egoism an individual believes that whatever serves his own interests is morally right. I do not see this as being an efficient way of looking at ethical issues since fulfilling only what's right for oneself many different problems can come up. Another reason I do not agree.