Difference Between Utilitarianism and Deontology

Utilitarianism and deontology are two of the most widely used terms related to ethical systems. Utilitarianism refers to the concept which states that ‘end justifies the means’ i.e. the right action plan is the one through which the best outcomes can be achieved. On the other hand, deontology is completely opposite to utilitarianism which advocates that ‘end does not justify means’.

Utilitarianism completely depends on consequentiality and is considered as a selfish approach as it doesn’t take into account any kind of suffering which the society may face due to a particular action plan. In contrast, deontology is based on fairness and social justice.


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    It is a theory in normative ethics which states that the right action plan is the one which maximises utility and happiness while minimising the suffering. Classic utilitarianism is hedonistic and was advocated by two of the most prominent contributors, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

    Presently, it is taken as a form of consequentialism which is quite different to conventional utilitarianism.

    It preaches that the moral value of an action plan is only judged by its actual outcomes. It can be categorised as a reductionist and quantitative approach towards ethics and is a kind of naturalism.

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    It is a normative ethical system which determines the morality of action plan on the basis of its adherence to a set of rules. It states that the means should be ethical in every context regardless of the consequences.

    Immanuel Kant presented a theory of ethics which is considered as deontological for quite a few reasons. He argued that in order to act in a way which is morally right, people have to abide by their duties. Furthermore, he asserted that it is the motive or motives of the person which make the action plan right or wrong instead of the outcomes.

    Kant explained that the action plan needs to be intrinsically good that can only be achieved if a person has motives which are morally right. He described that the motives of the people determines the morality of their acts. For instance, pleasure is considered as a positive feeling, but it cannot be deemed as good if a person feels pleasure to see someone in sufferings.

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