The fundamentals of people’s behavior in society have always been of interest to sociologists and philosophers, and different approaches to the study of certain motives have been developed. Thus, as a comparative analysis, two teleological philosophies – egoism and utilitarianism, as well as two moral concepts – teleology and deontology will be considered. A comparative analysis can help to identify similar and distinctive features and determine how the moral principles of behavior are viewed in terms of different concepts.
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Comparison of Egoism and Utilitarianism
Both egoism and utilitarianism are based on the assumption that something is good if it is pleasant and bad if it causes suffering. Egoistic theories claim that human actions are moral if people pursue long-term interests, that is, try to increase the level of pleasure or reduce our suffering (Mulgan, 2014). However, what is nice for one person can be excruciating for someone else. Thus, the interests of two people collide and make a conflict. The lack of an egoism theory is that they do not explain what people should do when their interests contradict others.
The proponents of utilitarianism solve this problem, stating that something is good or moral if it gives the greatest benefit to the largest number of people (Mulgan, 2014). Utilitarianism is usually discussed as an ethical theory that considers the use of moral duty as a basis. As Mulgan (2014) notes, the fundamental condition of this concept is the preservation of equal importance of each person’s happiness when solving the issue of moral correctness or incorrectness regarding a planned action. Thus, both theories have significant differences concerning the approach to the realization of personal desires and intentions. Nevertheless, they have one common feature: as the basic object of study, these concepts consider the human and his or her actions according to which specific judgments are made.
Comparison of Teleology and Deontology
A teleological theory judges the rightness or wrongness of decisions and actions according to what they lead to, that is, according to their consequences (Johnson & Wians, 2015). If the total result of benefits costs is positive, a considered action is morally acceptable; otherwise, this ethical principle is not observed. According to Sacco, Brown, Lustgraaf, and Hugenberg (2017), a deontological theory differs in that greater importance is attached to the means leading to particular consequences and discuss whether the decision satisfies the rules that people were obliged to observe. This philosophical approach outlines moral or ethical reasons that influence the well-being of the individual and uses the notion of means, intentions, and characteristics of actions from the ethical point of view.
Therefore, teleological theories are also called consequential, and deontological concepts are non-consequential ones (Sacco et al., 2017). The second category can also be divided into two groups: those principles that are based on rights, and the principles of justice. Both concepts, however, have one common feature: they relate to ethics and are used as a mechanism for managing evaluating personal motives.
Distinctions Between the Rule and Act Categories of Utilitarianism and Deontology
The rules and categories of action in utilitarianism and deontology are the opposite. For utilitarian morality, the central criterion for the correctness of an action is its consequences. In addition to immediate pleasure, any benefit can be the goal of a morally correct choice. As Mulgan (2014) notes, the more useful a benefit is, the more correct an act is. However, a person can harm other people when striving to take advantage. Therefore, it is essential to behave to bring the greatest benefit to the largest number of people.
The moral law and strict adherence to it lie in the center of deontological ethics, even if from a pragmatic point of view, it would be more useful to neglect this law. Sacco et al. (2017) remark that duty is the base of such a philosophy. The neglect of personal interests for the sake of observance of conditional morality distinguishes deontology from utilitarianism. The actions of the human who follows the norms of this concept are not conditioned by the desire for pleasure but by the goal to act by ethical norms and to bear responsibility for specific actions. Although both these philosophies consider actions as criteria for assessing behavior, they have significant differences and differ in their approaches to the interpretation of certain motives.
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Evaluation of the Morality of Actions
Some people evaluate the morality of an action based on the action itself, whereas others evaluate it in terms of its conformity to particular moral principles or rules of conduct. Perhaps, it is because different ethical principles of behavior are laid down in childhood, and a person has certain ideas about the world, based on existing experience. Education plays an important role in the process of forming an opinion on ethical norms of behavior and interaction with other people.
If a child grows in an environment where the utilitarian principle of morality is fundamental, he or she learns to appreciate pleasure as the primary factor determining human well-being. However, if the deontological principles of upbringing are promoted by parents and the environment, a person does not seek maximum pleasure but evaluates concrete actions from the standpoint of morality and perception by other people. Thus, the circle of communication is an essential factor determining the type of human behavior and attitude to action from an ethical point of view.
Ethics Program with a Compliance vs. Values Orientation
Today, the orientation towards compliance is the strongest internal regulator and stimulus to labor activity and is the most important lifestyle in many types of professional activity (Kaptein, 2015). Ethical programs aimed at a values orientation are difficult to use in the business world since practically the whole structure of labor activity is built on the principles of competition and achieving maximum efficiency. Nevertheless, there are advantages to both types.
The application of an ethical principle of behavior with emphasis on value orientations is a good indicator of people’s work in certain professions. For example, teachers, doctors, and some other professionals, respecting moral and ethical values and giving them preference in the process of their professional activity, deserve a high appraisal of their work. However, such a principle is unlikely to be effective in business or industrial structures where compliance with certain practical actions is considered higher than compliance with the norms of morality.
It is difficult to say whether one principle is better than the other or not since the application of both concepts is relevant in different spheres. According to Kaptein (2015), different organizations often face the need to choose this or that ethical program to maintain their activities at a proper level. Therefore, the key criterion for assessing the merits and demerits of such programs is the scope and appropriateness of their application.
The principle of operation in many companies is in most cases arranged according to one of the four main types of organizational culture. Thus, Naranjo-Valencia, Jiménez-Jiménez, and Sanz-Valle (2016) note that there are four main types of organizational culture – clan, adhocracy, hierarchy, and market. The examples of these varieties can be found in different companies, and each of these types has its specific characteristics.
A clan organizational culture implies a friendly team where its members have much in common. The leaders of the company are perceived by its members as educators. The organization is inseparable due to tradition and devotion, and importance is attached to the moral climate and cohesion of the collective. Google Corporation is an example of such a company where employees work in a favorable microclimate.
An adhocratic organizational culture implies active entrepreneurial and creative work. To achieve common success, employees are willing to take risks and personal sacrifices. The leaders of such an organization are considered innovators and risky people. A connecting element of the organization is a devotion to innovation and experimentation. This type of work is typical, for example, for the company Hewlett-Packard which is known for its dedication to its employees.
A hierarchical organizational culture is used in formalized and structured organizations. All the activities of employees are governed by procedures. Leaders are rationally thinking organizers and coordinators. A unifying factor in such a company is the official policy and formal rules. Such a large automotive concern as Audi has a similar type of organization.
A market organizational culture is dominant in companies that are focused on achieving results. The primary task is to fulfill the set goals. Employees are always purposeful and constantly compete with one another. Typically, novice companies have a similar operating principle, for example, Arista Network supplying network equipment.
Thus, due to the comparative analysis of various behavioral and ethical concepts, it is possible to identify the similarities and differences of these theories, as well as to indicate their scope of application. Compliance with specific rules depends on various factors, including upbringing and the environment. Various types of organizational culture distinguish companies from one another and determine the basic principles of their activities.
Johnson, M. R., & Wians, W. (2015). Aristotle on teleology. Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science, 4, 148-154.
Kaptein, M. (2015). The effectiveness of ethics programs: The role of scope, composition, and sequence. Journal of Business Ethics, 132(2), 415-431.
Mulgan, T. (2014). Understanding utilitarianism. New York, NY: Routledge.
Naranjo-Valencia, J. C., Jiménez-Jiménez, D., & Sanz-Valle, R. (2016). Studying the links between organizational culture, innovation, and performance in Spanish companies. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 48(1), 30-41.
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Sacco, D. F., Brown, M., Lustgraaf, C. J., & Hugenberg, K. (2017). The adaptive utility of deontology: Deontological moral decision-making fosters perceptions of trust and likeability. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 3(2), 125-132.