Simple Example to Help Understand Deontology

New Zealand Trip - View of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown Gardens. The town on the other side. The southern alps is in the background set against a clear blue sky. The morning sun is over one of the peaks.

Deontology is a school of philosophy that judges the morality of an action based on rules. It doesn’t take into consideration outcomes (or the weighing of which outcome is better).

To illustrate this idea, let me use a daily social interaction as an example.

A colleague sent picture of 2 designs of socks in our Whatsapp group chat, and asked the rest of us which one we preferred to be used as a door gift for the upcoming Christmas celebration in the office. The choices were: “Christmas” and “Marvel”.

The usual response everyone would have is to download the images and make a comparison before giving a verdict.

Deontology is to make the decision based on what is right for situation. I did not even download the photos to compare the design, because by Deontology, I should pick “Christmas” design over “Marvel”, as this was supposed to be a gift for a Christmas celebration.

Now, I’m not saying that my colleagues who chose “Marvel” was “wrong” or did not apply deontology principles. They could very well have demonstrated their thought processes to me to prove that their decision was of a deontological outcome. The key of this discussion is the process: did we make a decision based on what was the rules (or “what was right”)? Or did we decide it based on “who benefits most” or “who lost the least”?

And by the way, Happy Holidays, everyone!



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