Hu 245 Unit 2 Assignment Ethical Theories Comparison Chart Examples

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hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart example

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HU245: Unit 2 Assignment – Theories of Morality

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Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical Egoism
How is “good” DeterminedAn act that produces the greatest happiness and promotes the most good for the most people.An act that promotes the individual’s long term interest.
Most Noted Philosopher(s)Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart MillAyn Rand, Thomas Hobbes
Major StrengthsSeeks to maximize happiness and benefit all.Tries to encourage independence.
Major WeaknessesOne can’t always predict results or please everyone.One can be viewed as selfish.
Ethics of CareKantianism
How is “good” DeterminedAn act that nurtures the connections among those closest to each other.An act that is based on reason and duty, and would be considered ethical if everyone did the same.
Most Noted Philosopher(s)Carol Gilligan, Nel NoddingsImmanuel Kanthu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart examples
Major StrengthsWe focus on those we love/who are closest to us.Emphasizes the rights of the individual.
Major WeaknessesThreatens to devolve into tribalism.Emphasizes duty over the desire to do good.
Prima Facie DutiesDivine Command Theory
How is “good” DeterminedAdhere to prima facie duties unless solemn reasons or circumstances say to do otherwise.Adhere to the commands of God/religious beliefs, regardless of the consequences that might ensue.
Most Noted Philosopher(s)Sir William David RossJoan of Arc
Major StrengthsSets principles yet recognizes outcomes of actions.Provides moral law and motivation to follow it.
Major WeaknessesWhen is one duty stronger than another?Evil has been done by so called “religious” people.
Virtue Theory
How is “good” DeterminedFocus not on making good decisions but making good people who will decide correctly.
Most Noted PhilosophersAristotle, Confucius, McIntyre
Major StrengthsAvoids problems/unifies emotions and reasoning.
Major WeaknessesVery difficult to apply to specific questions.

hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart example 2

Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical EgoismEthics of CareKantianismPrima Facie DutiesDivine Command TheoryVirtue Theory
How is “good” DeterminedContribution to overall utility in maximizing happiness and pleasure.Everyone ought to act in their own best self-interest.Holding interpersonal relationships highlyRespecting rational beings and having dignityTreating everything equalMorality is somehow dependent upon God. Morality comes by the obedience of God’s commandsBy bettering their self-characteristics
Most Noted Philosopher(s)Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart MillEpicurusm Ayn Rand, Jesse Kalin, and John HospersCarol GilliganImmanuel KantWilliam David RossPlato, Kai Nielson, and J. L. MackieAristotle
Major StrengthsIt is straightforward and based on the single principle of lowering pain and higher pleasure and happiness. Aims towards a happy life.This encourages individual freedom and responsibility. It is easier to determine self-interestRecognizes weaknesses in moral theories and emotions in moral reasoningHumans are morally autonomous, authors of their own morality. The categorical imperative promotes quality.This theory promotes an equal and safe environmentThe theory commands free humanity from having to laboriously discover what is proper human conductEncourages high levels of moral behavior. People learn to be moral by practice
Major WeaknessesProviding support for ethical egoism, and can be very difficult. what will turn out to be good consequences for others. Everyone sees “good” and “bad” differently.The theories apply only to one individual and cannot be laid down for humanity in general. Not being able to apply to a group of people or everyone is a real setback.Some critics think that by accepting the theory, one may be raising female values above male values. Acting out of a sense of “duty for duty’s sakes” is cold and impersonal. Duty without guidance from human sympathy can lead to rigid moral fanaticism.Someone’s way of treating someone equally could be the complete opposite of someone else’sThis theory, since it is based upon God is very controversialWhich virtues are the most important? The virtues can become conflicts.

hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart example 3

Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical EgoismEthics of CareKantianismPrima Facie DutiesDivine Command TheoryVirtue Theory
How is “good” DeterminedIt’s determined by constructing the utmost joy and encouraging the greatest good for most people.A piece that encourages a person’s long-term welfare.An item that fosters the connections amongst those closest to each other.It’s constructed on purpose and duty; considered to be ethical if everyone did the same.We must adhere to obligations unless circumstances tell us not to.If you believe in God, anything you do is right, and everyone is good.Described by oral distinction and emphasis on the good charisma of people
Most Noted Philosopher(s)John Stuart Mill, Jeremy BenthamThomas Hobbes, Ayn RandCarol Gilligan, Ned Noddings.Immanuel KantSir William David RossJoan of ArchAristotle
Major Strengths-Pursues to make the most of happiness and benefit everyone.-Upfront in the aspect of pain, pleasure, and happiness.-Tries to encourageFreedom.-Promotes good lifestyles for human beings to follow if they want to be moral.-Encourages us to focus on the people we love and are closest to us.
-Defines the understandings as diverse, but similarly binding. 
-Underlines the privileges of the individual.
-Delivers common moral strategies.
-It can provide a guideline for human rights and treat everyone fair.
-Operates on principles that everyone should follow.
-You can shadow commands without fear of the consequence of anything else.
-If a “Higher Being” is the source of morality, then its teachings will certainly be moral.
-Following virtues makes for better individuals and motivates personal relationships. -Practical theory, dependable with human nature.
Major Weaknesses-One can’t continuously expect outcomes or please every person.– It’s also immeasurable in the fact that you cant always compare feelings.-People can view you as being selfish for being so detached from others.-Tough to decide all consequences, unpredictable.-Threatens to devolve into tribalism.-Generates a one-sided ethical structure between the sexes.Kind of harsh environment, people don’t look out for one another.-Inconsistent moral laws, exception to moral laws.-Difficult to understand what obligation takes precedence over another.– No concrete evidence to support Ross’s logic.-Hard for some to believe in; is it even reliable?-It is extremely difficult to understand a “Higher Beings” teachings.-It is restricted to helping individuals and not the overall population– Lacks effective ethical guidelines; Aristotle’s Basic Human Function.


  • Thiroux/Krasemann, 2015.  Ethics: Theory and Practice.  Updated 11th Edition.  Boston: Pearson

hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart example 4

Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical EgoismEthics of CareKantianismPrima Facie DutiesDivine Command TheoryVirtue Theory
How is “good” Determined The moral rightness (or wrongness) of actions and policies  Utilitarianism defines the Good as pleasure without pain.Humans ought to act in their own self-interest, Nothing was good in itself except a good will. All human beings must obey in a general way before any considerations enter into the picture. What is good and right is what this being has stated is good and right. If one believes there is a God, goddess, or gods, and they have set up a series of moral commands, then an action is right and people are good if they obey these commands, regardless of the consequences.   Aspires to develop good people and good human communities. 
Most Noted Philosopher(s) Jeremy Benthamand John Stuart Mill.  Epicurus, Ayn Rand, Jesse Kalin, and John Hospers, among others.  Carol Gilligan  Immanuel Kant  Sir William David Ross Thomas Aquinas, Robert Adams, and Philip QuinnAristotle
Major Strengths Utilitarianism requires that we consider everyone’s pleasure, not just our own. There is more to life than physical pleasure.  Cannot be equated with selfishness, nor should it necessarily be equated with having a big ego or being conceited.  It is possible by reasoning alone to set up valid absolute moral rules that have the same force as indisputable mathematical truths.  If it feels good—do it and Do your own thing. 
Major Weaknesses There is not enough time to calculate the effects of our actions on general happiness. Therefore it is useless. Utilitarianism implies that we should always act in order to maximize happiness; this is too strict. It is asking too much of people to be always motivated to promote the general happiness  There seems to be no clear criteria either for choosing which duties are prima facie or for deciding how to distinguish among them after they have been established.  Are inherent in the lack of rational foundation for the existence of some sort of supernatural being or beings and the further lack of proof that the support of such a being or beings is enough to make rational and useful the ethical system in question. 

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Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical EgoismEthics of CareKantianismPrima Facie DutiesDivine Command TheoryVirtue Theory
How is “good” DeterminedWhat will bring about a good or desirable ending? What is the greatest good for the majority?In Ethical Egoism I would do what is in my best interest.Men are concerned with Justice and rights. Women are concerned with generosity.A person’s duty to act within a set of moral rules regardless of what happens.A person must follow a set of rules but that person should think about the end result.In order to be good a person must follow supreme beings or the rules of the universe.Having excellence and improving one’s character.
Most Noted Philosopher(s)Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart MillAyn RandCarol Gilligan and Lawrence KohlbergImmanuel KantSir William David RossJoan of ArcAristotle and Confucius.
Major StrengthsIt looks at what is best for everyone. It thinks on a large scale; such as, globally, the community as a whole, or what is good for the country.The thought that a person should be responsible and self sufficient and allows others to do the same.It works at helping to explain that men and women need to look at how the other gender thinks and strengthen their weaknesses.Being able to set up moral rules that are based on reason and logic. All rules must be logical and consistent.Following a set of rules before knowing all the particulars of the situation.When a person follows the dictates of their higher power they are acting correctly regardless of the consequences.This theory is based on improving oneself both from within and in the person’s environment.
Major WeaknessesSometimes in saying the greatest good for the masses, the minority gets left out.What may be in my best interest may not be in my friends’ best interest, so whose interest do we act in? There is an inconsistency.It can easily be said that men are superior to women and that gender makes a person right or wrong.Conflicting duties. Under this theory, nothing can be contradictory and we cannot obey 2 laws that contradict.What is the basis for the Prima Facie duties?There is no proof of a supreme being, even if there is whose ideology is the correct one to follow.How is the model of virtue selected and who does the average person model their life after.

hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart example 6

Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical EgoismEthics of CareKantianismPrima Facie DutiesDivine Command TheoryVirtue Theory
How is “good” DeterminedThe greatest good for the greatest number. Perform acts that will bring the greatest good to all.Based on the prescriptive approach. Everyone should act in their own self-interest.What is morally right or wrong. Importance of responseReasoning alone will set up moral rulesDuties that must be adhered to unless circumstances tell us not to.If I believe there is a God, any action is right and people are good regardless of the consequencesDefined by oral excellence. Emphasis on the good character of people
Most Noted Philosopher(s)Jeremy BenthamJohn Stuart MillAyn RandJesse KalinAlejandro Tugender
Carol Gilligan
KantSirWilliam David RossJoan of ArcAristotle
Major StrengthsOne must approach each situation individually. Decisions are based on intuition.People can appear humble. More in self-interest to be selfless.Attention to detail in situations to promote interest.
Consideration is measured by vulnerability.
Logically consistent.
Do not believe that a consequence makes an action right or wrong.
Telling the truth.
Making up for what we do to others.
 I should obey a supernatural being regardless of the consequences. what is good and right is stated by that being.The end of human life is happiness. Humans have the capacity for goodness.
Major WeaknessesThis theory is based on consequences. Morality cannot be rationalized.This theory is inconsistent. Hard to take moral advice.  Rests on the understanding of relationships. The majority were feministic views, with only one viewpoint.Act is immoral unless authorized. Some rules have questionable moral values.Being able to tell the difference between prima facie and not. To know or not to know whether something is true.Loss of life. Accept the consequencesBased on assumptions that are hard to prove. Morality is innate.

hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart example 7

Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical EgoismEthics of CareKantianismPrima Facie DutiesDivine Command TheoryVirtue Theory
How is “good” DeterminedGood is determined by the action that will bring the greatest good for all. Good is looking out for your own self-interest.hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart examplesMen and Women Are Different When It Comes to Ethical Decision MakingDoes not depend on the consequences of actions, but on whether they fulfill our duty.There are certain binding conditional duties to determine what it is we ought to do.actions are morally good because of their being commanded by God. Moral obligation is obedience to God’s commands; what is morally right is what God desires.Character-based ethics. This type of moral theory is all about becoming a certain kind of person. Its concern, ideally, is the development of human excellence. A good person is someone who lives virtuously – who possesses and lives the virtues. 
Most Noted Philosopher(s)Jeremy Bentham & John Stewart MillEpicurus, Ayn Rand, Jesse Kalin, and John HospersCarol Gilligan Lawrence KohlbergImmanuel KantSir William David RossWilliam of Ockham, St Augustine, Duns Scotus, and John CalvinAristotle, Confucius, Alasdair MacIntyre, Roger Ames, Henry Rosemont, St. Augustine, Ben Franklin
Major StrengthsFewer Conflicts if the majority is happy. It is simple, without complex rules.It is easier to determine self-interest. It promotes individual freedom and responsibility.Recognizes weaknesses in moral theories and emotions in moral reasoning.
Recognizes need to rectify imbalances/inequities.
Clarity. Absolute and easy to apply. Creates a distinction between duty and inclination. Bad actions may have good consequences.Do not necessitate the difficult task of computing consequences for moral actions. Provide, in their rule form, a strong set of moral guides. Avoid the pitfall of a cost-benefit analysis approach to morality.Moral duties are absolute.
Preserves the sovereignty of God.
Provides moral law as well as motivation to follow it.
Holistic – Unlike other ethical theories that regard emotions as dangerous to morality, It considers the whole person, including their emotions, qualities of character, and practical skills. Agent-Centered – other ethical ethics are concerned with obligation or consequence. Virtue theory examines the character of the moral agent. It regards Human relationships as important and stresses the need to look after those close to you. It allows people to make ethical decisions based on their own moral well-being.  
Major WeaknessesIt is hard to know what would make most people happy. It is impossible to know what the consequence will be.Communities are not self-sufficient. Complete self-interest cannot be served.Difficult to define, contexts difficult to identify. Moral emotions are difficult to quantify/define. Lack of agreement between theorists and frameworkPromotes rule-breaking due to sometimes severe consequences. Situations are not the same, so morality cannot be so absolute.Makes morality into something arbitrary.
A lot of evil has been done by religious people in the name of religion.
Religious morality closes off dialogue, can lead to group intolerance, and threaten church-state separation.
Broad – there is no single criteria for goodness. It only concentrates on a limited number of virtues and therefore is not able to focus on the big picture. Vague – there is no clear system for making moral choices

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Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

Consequential Theories

Ethical EgoismUtilitarianismEthics of Care
How is “Good” Determined·    Based on individual morality·    “Everyone should perform that act or follow that moral rule that will bring about the greatest good (or happiness) for everyone concerned.” (Thiroux, 2014)·    By the joint ethical decision of a man and a woman
Most Noted Philosopher(s)·    Epicurus·    Ayn Rand·    Jeremy Bentham·    John Stuart Mill·    Carol Gilligan
Major Strengths·    Moral obligation not to harm yourself· Universal ethical egoism “states as its basic principle that everyone should always act in his or her own best self-interest” (Thiroux, 2014)· It is easier to determine self-interest than to worry about other’s interests·    Hive mind – people work together to determine the best outcome for all people instead of one’s self·    Rule Utilitarianism – “Everyone should always establish and follow that rule or those rules that will bring about the greatest good for all concerned” (Thiroux, 2014)·    Ethics of care identifies the emotional weaknesses of both sexes and requires both to work together·    Requires wisdom and not just a calculation of consequences
Major Weaknesses·    Willing to harm others·    Individual and Personal ethical egoism focus on self rather than society·    Open to interpretation of right and wrong·    Relies heavily on isolation in order to be functional·    “No absolute rules against killing, stealing, lying, and so on” (Thiroux, 2014)·    Difficult to teach the younger generation when there are no rules or guidelines·    Because of diversity it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy·    There is no definition of what is right or wrong other than an agreement between the sexes ·    Concerned more with context rather than principles

Non-Consequential Theories

Divine Command Theory (DCT)KantianismPrima Facie Duties
How is “Good” Determined·    God/Higher Power·    Bible/religious readings·    “Act in accordance with moral rules, laws, or principles regardless of interests or consequences.” (Thiroux, 2014)·    Always do that act in accord with the stronger prima facie duty·    Always do that act that has the greatest degree of prima facie rightness over prima facie wrongness. (Thiroux, 2014)
Most Noted Philosopher(s)·    Plato·    Thomas Aquinas (Austin, n.d.)·    Immanuel Kant·    Sir William David Ross
Major Strengths·    “Provides an objective metaphysical foundation for morality” (Austin, n.d.)·    Removes the questioning of what is right or wrong·    Forces morality and good nature of people in order to achieve a place among the gods/higher power·    People need to think logically not emotionally·    Easy to identify immoral people·    Universalizable – “must be able to be stated so as to apply to everything without exception” (Thiroux, 2014)·    Learn from other people’s mistakes·    Uses the idea of intuitionism which states that people naturally know right from wrong and that we can naturally recover from mistakes. (Thiroux, 2014)·    People have a duty to moral correct similar to DCT
Major Weaknesses·    “Lack of proof that the support of such a being or beings is enough” (Thiroux, 2014)·    People do not think outside of the box·    Judgement towards those that are not religious which in turn breaks the religious ethic of “do not pass judgement”·    Some logic can lead to immoral consequences. For example, logically a person has to keep a promise, and that not breaking a promise could result in someone being seriously injured or even killed. (Thiroux, 2014)·    No room for mercy. Kant believed in “eye for an eye”·    Open to interpretation·    Similar to Kantianism, the consequences of duty could result in an immoral outcome·    Intuitionism is viewed as a “hunch” (Thiroux, 2014)·    Incomplete list of dutieshu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart examples

Virtue Theory

Virtue Theory
How is “Good” Determined·    “Virtue ethics are character based ethics” (Thiroux, 2014)·    Requires both moral judgment and understanding of law and order
Most Noted Philosopher(s)·    Aristotle·    Kongzi or “Confucius”
Major Strengths·    “Acts that are objectively virtuous, without a knowledge that the acts are good and without actively or rationally choosing them ourselves” (Thiroux, 2014)·    Utilizes the “mean” between excess and defect which keeps people content and/or peaceful – Moderation·    Seeks to develop the moral person from within and from without
Major Weaknesses·    Unknown if virtue is taught and learned or natural. Virtuous people are usually identified in older age instead of youth·    Human flourishing and well-being are undefined·    Relies on having someone to model after that is already virtuous. If there is no one to model after, then it is left to interpretation


Austin, M. W. (n.d.) Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved October 1, 2016, from

Thiroux, J. P., Krasemann, K. W. (2014-12-01). Ethics: Theory and Practice (Updated Edition), 11th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from hu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart examples

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Ethical Theories Comparison Chart

UtilitarianismEthical EgoismEthics of CareKantianismPrima Facie DutiesDivine Command TheoryVirtue Theory
How is “good” DeterminedAn act is moral if it brings a desirable end, for the majority.An act that is in one’s own best interest is good.-An act is good if it can be made into a rule for all human beingsNothing is good in itself except goodwill, consequences should not affect morality-Adhering to the Prima Facie is our moral obligation, and is good.-An act is considered good if it is commanded by a “higher” power-By honoring virtuous habits, the right or good choice will be made.
Most Noted Philosopher(s)-Jeremy Bentham-John Stuart Mill-Ann Rand-Jesse Kalin-John Hospers-Carol Gilligan– Immanuel Kant– Sir William David Ross-St Augustine-John Calvin-Duns Scotus-Aristotle
Major Strengths-Attractive to the majority-Fairness is easily determined because of its basic principles-Ensures personal needs will be met-Encourages individual freedom and responsibility-Everyone deserves care mindset-Recognizes weakness in moral theories-Provides a basis for human rights-Aims to treat everyone fairlyhu245 unit 2 assignment ethical theories comparison chart examples -Provides guidelines for morality-Easy to follow rules-Commands are given by the ultimate authority, making the reliable and trustworthy-Human begins can follow commands without fear of consequences or anything else– Following virtues makes for better individuals-motivates personal relationships and a sense of community
Major Weaknesses-Results depend on the prediction of an action-Impersonal and overlooks the individual to serve the “greater good”.-Inconsistent-requires everyone to participate in its philosophy to be successful-Disrupts the philosophy of gender equality women’s values are held higher than men’s values– “Eye for an eye” mindset does not allow for mercy-Universal rules do not help when each situation is different-Hard to determine which obligations take precedence-Lacks rational foundation of the existence of said “higher” powers-Can these “higher” powers be proven trustworthy?– Lacks a distinction between was acts are morally acceptable and which acts are not.-It is limited to helping individuals and not the population.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the 4 ethical theories?

Deontology, utilitarianism, rights, and virtues are four basic areas of ethical thought.

2. What is the best ethical theory?

Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that focuses on results to determine what is right and wrong. It’s an example of consequentialism in action. According to utilitarianism, the most ethical choice is the one that will result in the greatest good for the largest number of people.

3. What is the difference between right and good?

The two essential concepts of moral judgment are ‘right’ and ‘good.’ In general, something is morally ‘just’ if it is ethically required, whereas something is morally ‘good’ if it is worthwhile having or doing and improves the lives of people who have it.

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Hu 245 Unit 2 Assignment Ethical Theories Comparison Chart Examples

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