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Normative Ethical Systems: Deontological, Teleological, and Virtue

Normative ethical systems can be broken down into three categories: deontological, teleological and virtue ethics. The first two are considered deontic or action-based theories of morality and the question "What should I do?" The third asks an entirely different question: "What sort of person should I be?"

Deontology and Ethics: What is Deontology, Deontological Ethics?
Deontological moral systems are focused on adhering to moral duties. When we follow our duty, we are behaving morally. When we fail to follow our duty, we are behaving immorally. Duties, rules, and obligations are usually determined by God. Being moral thus means obeying God.

Virtue Ethics: Morality and Character - What Are Virtue Ethics?
Virtue-based ethical theories place much emphasis on rules for people to follow; virtue ethics focus instead on developing good character traits such as kindness and generosity. Virtuous character traits allow a person to make good ethical decisions later in life.

Deontology and Ethics
Deontological moral systems are characterized primarily by a focus upon adherence to independent moral rules or duties. Thus, in order to make the correct moral choices, we simply have to understand what our moral duties are and what correct rules exist which regulate those duties. When we follow our duty, we are behaving morally. When we fail to follow our duty, we are behaving immorally.

Ethics and Morality FAQ: Teleology and Ethics
Teleological moral systems are characterized primarily by a focus on the consequences which any action might have (for that reason, they are often referred to as consequentalist moral systems, and both terms are used here). Thus, in order to make correct moral choices, we have to have some understanding of what will result from our choices.

Virtue Ethics: Morality and Character
Virtue-based ethical theories place much emphasis on rules for people to follow; virtue ethics focus instead on developing good character traits such as kindness and generosity. Virtuous character traits allow a person to make good ethical decisions later in life.

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