Are you the sort of person who always works for the greater good, or always sticks to moral rules? Perhaps you use a mixture of both? Or, maybe, are you neither of the above? Of course, do you know what you are if you are not one of those two?
While most people are familiar with Consequentialism and Deontology, they might be hard pressed to describe another system. This is for a simple reason, as both systems have been at the forefront of ethics for the last two hundred years. Modern Consequentialism is based heavily on the work of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill in the 1800’s. These philosophers argued that the primary moral good is to maximize the total happiness.
Philosopher Peter Singer is one of the foremost modern consequentialists . Deontology owes its genesis to Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperative which dictated that the acceptable action in any situation is the action which we would will everyone to do in that situation.
There are, of course, other ethical systems. Prominent among them is the idea of Virtue Ethics, the preferred ethics of Socrates, Aristotle, Confucius, Ben Franklin, Nietzsche and Martha Nussbaum. In recent years this school of thought has seen a resurgence in popularity, especially in the reinterpretation of Aristotelian thought.Big Think
Virtue ethics differs from Deontology and Consequentialism by focusing on the character of the person rather than the details of a single action. While consequentialism is concerned with the state of the world after an action takes place, and deontology is worried about how closely rules were followed, virtue ethics asks “what does this action say about the character of the actor?” The right thing to do then, is that which demonstrates, encourages, and will habitualise the best character traits....
Virtue Ethics, the Moral System You Have Never Heard of but Have Probably Used
Scotty Hendricks, Iowa based writer and educator, and part time philosopher