Comparison of Utilitarianism and Deontology

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Utilitarianism vs Deontology

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that the best action is the one that maximizes utility, (, Utilitarianism). This is stating that it is morally good to use human lives if there is a greater good is the result. An example of this would be getting an abortion. Utilitarianists believe that committing an abortion is morally okay as long as it leads to a good result for the majority, (, Act and Rule Utilitarianism). Also, utilitarianist reject moral codes or commands that are considered taboo that is based on customs, traditions, or orders given by leaders or supernatural beings, (, Act and Rule Utilitarianism). Instead, they prefer a positive contribution to human beings.

Another example of utilitarianism is eliminating certain people and saving valuable resources for other people that will benefit from them. This is also known as rationing, and is stated as unavoidable because the needs for it are limitless, (, Ethics and rationality of Medicine). For instance, a person is considered brain dead and has little to no chance at recovering can provide about ten organs and at the same time is not using up valuable resources.

Recently in the news, there have been numerous reports from Iceland that doctors there have discovered a cure for Down Syndrome, (, Down Syndrome Disappears). Upon closer examination, it has been discovered that doctors have not cured Down Syndrome, but they have killed all those unborn babies who they believe will be born with the disease. These doctors have been using prenatal testing to determine if the unborn baby will get this genetic disease or not. According to recent data studies, the United States has a sixty-seven percent termination rate, and Denmark is ninety-eight percent rate, (, Down Syndrome Disappears). A utilitarianist would believe that aborting these unborn babies with defects is for the greater good. This is because utilitarianist believes those born with these genetic defects are draining valuable resources, and in certain situations, those resources would be limited and should not be wasted on defective people. So, the death of the unborn is being used to achieve the greater good. Another view of this the practice of genocide, deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those apart of a particular ethnic group or nation, (, Genocide definitions). Not only is a certain group being targeted, but it's also a group that requires more protection for those with this disability.

The complete opposite of utilitarianism is Deontology. Deontology is The study of the nature of duty and obligation, (, Deontological Ethics). Meaning it is never morally correct to use a human being only as a means to a further end. For instance, each and every human life, no matter the stage of development or condition the person is in, it is inherently valuable. As human beings, we are rational with a free choice who prefer to not be used as tools for someone else's purpose.

Kant's theory states Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means, but always at the same time as an end, (, Abstract). Kant is simply suggesting that if his Principle of Humanities were followed, the world would be perfect.

Principle of Humanities is the study aspects of humanity and culture, (Humanities, This is stating that we can never use human beings as a means to an end. Meaning we as humans should never use one another as a tool. But, we can use people generally under certain circumstances. An example of this would be asking someone to borrow twenty dollars and giving them the exact reason why you would be borrowing. For instance, Asking a parent for twenty-dollars to put gas in your car is a great example to explain the Principle of Humanities.

If we apply deontology to the issue of killing unborn children that are prone to down syndrome, we see that neither side is morally permissible to treat one another as a means to an end. We humans should always recognize the person, born or unborn. The act of killing an innocent child because of what genetic disformity it will have is clearly treating oneself as a means to an end, as the woman carrying the unborn child as a means to end the baby's life to save herself from having to take care of it once it is born, or as a way to save money from having to pay to deal with this kind of special needs child. Then the mother's life becomes a means to an end and that is wrong. We as a society do not allow a woman to be this irresponsible to end a human life just because of the troubles it could cause them mentally and financially. Also, doctors should be involved in the decision making because an abortion can cause harm to a woman's health, (,Safety of Women). Doctors use to take the Hippocratic oath, stating I will not give a woman an abortive remedy, (, Classic Hippocratic Oath). Doctors are meant to cure and heal the sick, not to kill human beings.
For the issue of killing an innocent baby born with Down Syndrome, I argue that we should not kill the innocent baby to benefit someone else. First, I believe it is wrong to use a human being that has not even had a chance to live, for parts. Even if the person is not fully grown or harmed in any way. There is no price that compares to a humans life. Utilitarians do not view life this way, they see humans as a resource to get what they want. Those who need help the most should not be killed and used, they deserve to live and be protected. Second, a prenatal test does not guarantee that the child will have Down syndrome, it is just showing if the risk is high or low, (, Down Syndrome Disappears). If the unborn child ends up not having Down Syndrome, then the abortion was performed for no reason. Lastly, a doctor cannot be one-hundred percent sure that the unborn baby has any kind of disease until it is born. Therefore, killing an innocent an possibly unharmed by genetics child is wrong.

When a woman is told her child could possibly be born with a genetic disorder, she should be fully informed on the causes that could happen to the baby and herself. Especially her health if the doctor is trying to convince to have an abortion. An abortion can have a psychological and emotional impact on a woman's body, (, Affects the Woman). Therefore, Doctors have to give the woman consent. Meaning the woman has to be fully aware of what could happen to her body and the unborn child. Doctors are known for not telling all the side affects of procedures or medication when giving them to their patient. So, I will not allow myself to undergo an abortion just because my child would be born with a genetic disorder. This is because there is a chance of infertility, or perforate the lining of my uterus, and that can cause infection and even sepsis,(, Affects the Woman).
There is such thing as an non-voluntary euthanasia, and this includes abortion, (, Abortion/Euthanasia). These two types of murder are morally wrong, and to this day are being debated as to what life is said to be. Euthanasia targets groups such as people that are sick, disabled, and old. In Iceland, unborn children are being killed for having a genetic disease called Down Syndrome, (, Down Syndrome Disappears).

Citation Page

  1. Atwell, John E. The Principle of Humanity. SpringerLink, Springer, 1 Jan. 1986,
  2. Deontological Ethics. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Nov. 2018,
  3. Ethics - Abortion: Safety of Women. BBC, BBC,
  4. Genocide Definitions. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Apr. 2018,
  5. How an Abortion Affects the Woman | Videos. LabRoots, LabRoots, Inc.,
  6. Humanities. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Nov. 2018,
  7. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
  8. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
  9. Lajka, Julian Quinones Arijeta. ?What Kind of Society Do You Want to Live in?": Inside the Country Where Down Syndrome Is Disappearing. CBS News, CBS Interactive, 14 Aug. 2017,
  10. Medical Definition of Hippocratic Oath. MedicineNet,
  11. The Abortion/Euthanasia Connection. Impact of Euthanasia on the Family | The Life Resources Charitable Trust,
  12. Utilitarianism. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Nov. 2018,
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