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Deontological Ethics

Deontological approaches to ethical decision making are also called "duty" ethics or the "humanitarian" approach. Deontological systems are based on the idea that human beings must treat other human beings with respect and dignity. In this case, ethical behavior is judged on whether the action violates human rights. The actions themselves are treated as "right" or "wrong."

Problems with this approach:

  • Which human rights are deemed more important?
  • As society evolves over time, will norms of basic human rights change?
  • Blindly following this approach could lead to considerable harm.

Examples of Deontological Ethics:

  • Declaration of Independence
  • Choosing not to disseminate false information because that would constitute an act of lying which is "wrong."