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Benefits of the Teleological theory of morality

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The majority of the population, probably including yourself, claims they act “morally”. Many of these people ask other people to act “morally”, but when you ask these “moral” people what morality is they stand there for a minute, and almost every single person will give you the wrong answer. So what is morality? In brief, morality is a basic set of principles that people follow. A perfect example would be Osama Bin Laden, a man that believes completely in what he does, and does it to his best. He has his own set of “morals” which he follows perfectly. He is acting morally. On the other hand we have Saddam Hussein; he does not follow any set of standards consistently, and therefore is not considered “moral”. Obviously someone who acts morally may be acting morally according to their set of standards, but in our opinion are very wrong. This is because we have different systems of morality. There are three major systems of morality: Immanuel Kant’s theory of Deontology, Aristotle’s theory on Virtues, and finally the theory of Utility, or the Utilitarian principles of Teleology.

To start off we have Immanuel Kant, creator of the categorical imperative and the founder of deontological principles. These principles state that one shall do their duty by not lying, not killing, not going to war, etc. As a basic everyday rule, followers would ask themselves if the maxim of the action could be taken as a universal law. This is the simple Christian belief that if you do something, then everybody else should be able to do it, or, do unto others as you would wish others to do unto you. On the surface, deontology sure looks like the right way of thinking: you’ll be fine in life if you don’t lie, you don’t kill, you don’t covet, but if you look deeper you see where this theory really could create many problems. As Kant put it, “I will do my duty, though the heavens may fall”. This clearly states, he will not lie, he will not kill, he will do his “duty” even if mankind is wiped off the earth because of it. Putting our duties in front of our lives, our family’s lives, and even our foe’s lives, not really the right thing to do.

Aristotle decided he hadn’t gone far enough with his work so he put together a system of morality called the virtue based system. A system now communicated to us by “The Book of Virtues”, it is what some of the deontological system was based on. In this theory one follows the virtues and puts themselves as far back from the vices as possible, if they do this, they will reach Eudemonia, or the happy life, known to Kantians as heaven. When I see this I notice a very glaring problem; though these people act consistent with their moral set of standards, in essence they do not act morally, for they only act the way they do to reach Eudemonia. Yet another glaring problem would be the fact that if you are under virtuous or over virtuous you can’t reach happiness. This is bad because if you are over perseverant or over ambitions then you are committing a vice, where as Aristotle himself was quite perseverant and by his own theory would be considered vicious. On top of that there is no clear cut rule on what is over virtuous and what is not virtuous enough. In conclusion this theory might need to be looked at a bit more.

Finally we have the last major type of morality: Teleology. Teleology uses the Principle of Utility or Utilitarianism. This theory states that one does the greatest good for the greatest number. This always makes the majority happy because you’re doing what is best for them; unfortunately this creates a problem with the minority. Is it worth it to kill 10 people just so you can save a whole town? How about killing 10 people just so 20 others can live? True the whole world does not have a chance of coming to an end like with deontology, and the rules are very clear cut here unlike the virtue based systems, but can you justify one death for the lives of two other people. Can you justify lying to one person so a handful of others feel good. But, would we get to those situations if we always followed this theory? Would we be at war right now with Iraq? It certainly didn’t help the majority. We wouldn’t need to figure out whether to let the hostages die or not, because we wouldn’t be there, and the nobody would have taken the hostages because it wouldn’t have been good for the majority. When we have a set of rules that is best for the majority, it is true that many people feel left out, but if you’re running for president you win, you satisfy more than half the people, in all cases you are doing your job to the best of your ability.

In conclusion a teleological theory of morality set throughout the world would not only be a utilitarian thing to do, but a Kantian thing to do. Many people would argue that you could become a moral relativist and morality would be relative depending on the situation you are in. This would according to the definition of morality make you an immoral person. You would not be following set standards, but multiple sets of standards that would change with the occasion. You certainly wouldn’t have a clear cut set of rules, and you would sooner or later break your own idea of morality because you would have to make a decision in which too many sets of rules would apply. Therefore not only being immoral in the definition of morality, but being immoral in your interpretation of morality, therefore making moral relativism an immoral thing. As a final point for the ones of you who either have not noticed, are still in bed sleeping and haven’t understood a word, or you haven’t turned into a utilitarian, start noticing, get out of bed and read this, and turn utilitarian because right here is a point that not even the leaders in the deontological world can take.

If you follow deontological rules and don’t give money to spare others lives, because it is wrong to give money out in the form of a bribe, you are causing anti-deontology (if that is a word). You may not be doing something wrong, but you are creating something that is ultimately many times as wrong, the killing of multiple human beings. For people who are followers of deontology choices like that come up every day, they’re trusting the other people follow the same set of moral standards, guess what, you wouldn’t be there if that were the case. In Utilitarianism you will never find such a problem unless you come upon the problem that neither side benefits. In Deontology what you do can easily cause later contradictions of deontological principles, but in Teleology, that will never come along.

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