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Theory of Deontology Analysis

Malik Jones

This paper will argue why deontology is the most plausible ethical theory in my opinion. I will deliberate how should we live, how should we interpret the human condition, the most serious objections to this ethical theory, and how should one who holds this ethical theory respond to these objections.

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According to deontology, we should never inflict wrong onto anyone, or thing because no matter the circumstances, it will always be wrong. It does not matter if you are trying to save a trolley full of people hurtling down towards a group of workers by sacrificing one person, or if you are trying to steal two dollars from someone who has one million dollars, no matter the circumstance you shall never inflict damage to anyone no matter how big or small the matter, or the circumstances. In deontology, no matter what wrong you do, no matter the circumstance, whatever you do that inflicts damage to others or anything, it is immoral and you should feel deprived about the situation.

People who have faith in deontology, or deontologist, think that morality is a matter of duty. People have moral responsibilities to do things that are right and moral duties not to do things that are immoral. Whether something is correct or incorrect doesn’t depend on its penalties or magnitude. Rather, a deed is right or wrong in itself. The only thing that should drive human beings is the desire to do the right thing. Not money, power, material things, or even possibly doing things to achieve some sort of eternal life, but we should do the right thing, for no other reason, besides the fact that doing the right way is the right way or the only way.

Kant’s claim is that the moral standing of our behavior is determined exclusively on the basis of the rightness and wrongness of the action itself. This means that it is unconditionally wrong too, for instance, self-defense, in all conditions, regardless of the consequences. For example, say there has been a case of armed robberies around your community by a group of ruthless criminals. Law enforcement also believes that this group of individuals have been bouncing from city to city and maybe even have had jobs in several other states, but they were not harming anyone who let them come in, take what they want, then leave.  Then one day, a group of people comes to your house late at night, while all of your family is asleep. The thieves came this late in the night expecting no one in the house to be awake. Little do they know that you are wide awake in your house a reach away from a twelve-gauge shotgun that can inflict enough damage with one or two shells to ensure that your family will remain safe and that no other family will have to suffer the wrath of these men. The only question left in the mind of a deontologist is that will you save your family and yourself or will you inflict damage to others, and if you let them just come and take whatever they want, then your family will be left with none of the means that you once had to survive on that you spent your life working on. This is one serious objection to deontology that pushes many people away from it, because most people will acknowledge that it is right to do the right time all the time for the sole sake of doing right, but they don’t appreciate the fact that deontology requires no matter what you must always do the right thing no matter the circumstances because most people will want to save their family for the greater good if at all possible in this scenario for example.

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Just like in any great debate, though, ever objection can get counteracted which is certainly the case with even the most severe examples such as the one stated before. One might argue that if the father had time to hear and know they were coming, he had time to react without inflicting harm to the home invaders. He could have got his family and left the house before the invaders broke into the house. When the news hit that this group of people were now currently in their area, they should have come up with a signal to let everyone in the house know that the invaders were there and came up with a plan to evacuate and meet up somewhere to call the appropriate authorities. Or if evacuating wasn’t an option, then contact the authorities and have faith that they will do their job to either stop the thieves in the act or catch them in a timely manner to restore your family to the way it was before they broke in. You also never know the circumstances that made them start to burglarize you, to begin with. Let’s say that it is revealed that the group of individuals are all family members, and they have no health insurance, but their mother is terribly sick with cancer and they can’t afford to get her the treatments that she drastically needs without committing these acts. If you kill them instead of giving them what they want, not only are you killing people that had no intention to kill you unless necessary, but you would also be killing a person who was in no way shape or form related to the crime that the guys were committing because she was completely unaware of what her family was doing to pay for her treatments.

Deontology, while not perfect, gives the best explanation of the human condition and is the most plausible ethical theory out of all the lessons that we were taught in class. To me, while it may not be realistic in every single case, if society would look at life from a deontologist point of view, the world would be a much better place.

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