The ethics of abortion has been a subject of conversation and controversy, that has been continually argued over many decades. Abortion is the deliberate termination of a fetus or embryo from the womb before it is able to survive independently. It raises ethical questions because it makes us consider when life begins and whether we should prioritize the life of the fetus or the life of the mother.
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Referring to abortion on an ethical basis can be understood through the description and evaluation of three of the most known theoretical approaches: utilitarianism, deontological (duty-based) and virtue-based ethics. In order to understand which of the three-ethical theory best view abortion from my perspective, we need to understand the differences and similarities, as well as, strengths and weaknesses.
Utilitarianism is a consequential ethical theory based on the Principles of Utility, which promotes the maximization of the welfare of society as a whole. Jeremy Bentham is one of the key philosophers of utilitarianism who suggested that a decision is morally right when that decision produces total utility and generates the greatest good for the greatest number of people with the least pain. Utilitarianism is concerned with predicting the consequences and the impact of an action, or the final outcomes. It treats the intentions as irrelevant. As a hedonist, Bentham believes that happiness was the only thing desirable in life and that the primary motivators in human beings are pleasure and pain. However, utilitarianism can also be a negative effect. Sometimes doing what provides the most pleasure to the most people would mean sacrificing your own pleasure and happiness in order to produce more good overall. Trying to achieve a utilitarian outcome, it can result in ignoring or even violating the rights of some people in an attempt to look for the greater good. Utilitarianism can also be criticized because the theory ignores the importance of one’s duty and responsibilities to others.
While utilitarianism requires weighing the consequences of an outcome, deontology and virtue-based ethics are nonconsequential that emphasized more on a person’s sense of duty and the actions itself. Like utilitarianism, deontologist agrees that a moral theory should apply equally to everyone, regardless of our religious beliefs, or lack of. From Immanuel Kant’s perspective, deontology ethical theory centers around certain duties or obligations we have towards others and a sense of consideration for other people. The morality of deontology is based on nature of the action itself,
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