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Deontology and Utilitarianism Assignment Help

Search for journal articles in professional peer-reviewed accounting, ethics and business journals that pertain to the 2 major ethic systems proposed for the accounting Profession- deontology and utilitarianism.

Describe in detail both ethics systems using professional literature, and textbooks. You must cite a minimum of 5 scholarly sources for each ethics system. It is possible that a particular journal article could address both ethics systems.

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Deontology and Utilitarianism


There are two major ethics systems in the accounting discipline; deontology and utilitarianism. Ethics is a set of moral principles that guide an individual's choices based on their motives and the subsequent ends of those choices. The corporate world has various ethical issues. As a result, a code of conduct such as the ICPAK Code of Ethics for Professional Accountant is essential to the success of any industry. Most conflict within the organization is due to the struggle between employees and management. Employees expect those in leadership positions to uphold a high ethical standard for the company. Therefore, management must comply with the set ethical standards to effectively guide the tone for the rest of the workers. This paper discusses deontology and utilitarianism and evaluates the two systems with respect to the ethical dimensions of organizational culture in the accounting profession and a Christian worldview of ethics.

This paper will discuss the similarities and differences between Deontology and Utilitarianism, along with how they both relate to the Christian Worldview. As a Christian, one's ethics should always be of the highest standard. We should always be honest, make ethical decisions and God should always be a part of everything we do. One's ethics is an important part of any job, especially being an accountant. In the bible we see God's rule in Leviticus 19:11 "Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another." (Bible). In this paper, I will show how the Deontology ethics systems follow that rule better than the Utilitarianism ethics system does.


Deontology gets its name from the conjugation of the Greek words "de´on and de´ontos", meaning duty, and "lo´gos", meaning speech or treaty. To merely define utilitarianism and deontology is insufficient for determining which of the two ethics systems is more appropriate for the accounting profession. Both ethics systems sound good on paper, or in theory, but what about in practice in the unique dilemmas faced by accountants? The systems must be evaluated within the context of the accounting field, specifically with respect to the ethical dimensions of organizational culture in the accounting profession and a Christian worldview of ethics (Alegria Carreira, et al., 2008). Organizational culture is the substance, the very essence, of an organization. It determines the perceptions and behavior of employees and influences their decision-making process. It is based on the shared basic assumptions of a group that have been effective for the group and are taught to new members as the proper way to perceive, think, and feel about certainproblems.

The simple definition of deontology is the study of the nature of duty and obligation. It is easy to understand when compared with 'teleology' and 'teleological'. The Greek 'telos' means 'end' or 'goal'. The telos of scissors, of example, is to cut (usually) paper.

Deontological Ethics judges morality based off of an action's adherence to predetermined rules, unlike consequentialism which judges morality based off of the consequences of actions (Dina, 2013). The ethical theory says that intentions matter, and an action, not the result of an action, is what makes a moral agent culpable.

Of all of the variants of deontological ethics, the most widely adhered to is, obviously, Divine Command Theory. This would probably be the most straight forward method for deciding on rules: whatever God says.

Alternatively, you could also follow in the footsteps of Kant. Kantianism'scentral tenant is known as the categorical imperative, and consists of three parts:

1. Only act in ways that you would want to be universally implemented.
2. Do not treat people as a means for your ends, but also as the ends from which your means are created.
3. As a result of the first two, create rules that continue to be justified when universally applied while refraining from infringing on the rights of the individual.

You could follow in the footsteps of any of history's great moral philosophers, taking their basis for rules as your own, but it all leads back to the question: Why? When laid bare, it becomes painfully obvious how arbitrary any rule-set actually is (Constantin, 2014). How could we possibly determine the criterion for rules without first having rules to determine said criterion? We're left with an infinite regress of our epistemological base, and no answers to be found.

In business, one example might be a commitment to respecting human rights. Businesses that are strongly committed to human rights respect those rights not because doing so will have good consequences, but because respecting all humans as deserving respect is the right thing to do.


Utilitarianism Philosophers and theologians seek to provide answers that explain a person's actions and thoughts. The principles of utilitarianism are attributed to Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (Freiman, 2013). The theory addresses the idea of maximizing the highest amount of good (that is, utility) for the unlimited number of people. Utilitarianism computes the potential benefits and damages of the consequence forevery person affected. If the action produces more happiness for most people, then it is ethical. The relationship between utilitarianism and ethics is implied its definition whereby an action is deemed ethical if the majority of people get a benefit or are happy (Hills, 2010). The theory also emphasizes on the greater good of a group rather than an individual. If an act promotes the greater good for the majority but not an individual, the person's concerns are left behind, and the action is taken. When a particular behavior does not meet the set ethical standard, it will lead to negative consequences in the long term.

You have to vote in the upcoming election and you wholeheartedly loved Bernie Sanders. Now the nominee is Hillary versus Trump. You don't want to vote for either, but you feel you must vote. What is the utilitarian vote? What is the greater good, since your good, which is Bernie, can't be chosen? If you follow your feelings, you may not vote, since you can't get the guy you like. But the rational choice is deciding what the greater good is and voting for that.

It takes ethics and turns it into a simple matter of arithmetic. For example, suppose I were to capture to people and force them to fight to the death in an arena, or else explosives strapped to their bodies would detonate and kill both of them at once (Hills, 2010). And I broadcast this on TV pay-per-view, bringing millions and millions of people pleasure, at the cost of suffering and death for two people.
To give you a more realistic scenario, imagine if everyone was required to be an organ donor, to give the most utility to the most people, but if you had any kind of difficult illness or injury, they simply cut you into pieces and give your body parts to a dozen or so people. After all, ethics is a simple math problem. 12 is more than 1, so that makes butchering you okay.

And this is when we have full knowledge of what we are doing and what the outcome will be. What if we add good old fashioned human ignorance to this mixture of immorality:

Even when we know the outcome beforehand, this is still wrong. Now throw in the fact that some actions have unpredictable outcomes, and utilitarianism becomes a seriously flawed ethical system. If you're relying on foreknowledge of the outcome to determine whether actions are moral, then you'll commit immoral acts out of ignorance.

For example, let's look at the topic of rape: There are some people out there who enjoy "rape-play" which is a fantasy and roleplay of pretending to not give consent to sex, while actually giving consent.

This does not give you the excuse to go out and rape people, hoping you'll randomly end up with someone who might get some kind of thrill from it, by pure chance. Even if you knew one of the potential consequences wasn't strictly negative, you are deliberately ignoring all the negative outcomes. Morality must seek to avoid negative outcomes as opposed to purely focusing on positive ones.
If you act in ways that seek to avoid negative outcomes, that can be considered moral. For example, the trolley problem. If you have only two choices, inaction or throwing a switch, and inaction kills five people and action kills 1 person, throwing the switch is the action seeking to avoid the deaths of five people. At least one person will die, in this scenario. In real life, we should check and make sure that there is no way to get a better outcome than 1 death.

Throwing the switch to save lives can be considered ethical and moral. However, if someone is of the religious belief that the God of Death must be appeased and will obliterate the world unless fair maidens are tossed into a volcano on a regular basis, that is not the same as the trolley problem. They are seeking to avoid a negative outcome, but they have not factored in whether the negative outcome is realistic or imaginary, and they have not thought about whether there is an outcome involving zero deaths, in this case, inaction. And they are actively seeking to choose and destroy people to save people from an imagined threat, as opposed to taking the only option to save people from a real, provable, imminent threat. This is no better than the forced organ donation murder scenario, in fact, it is worse. I can prove some people would be better off if we did forced organ donation murders. I cannot prove the world would be better off appeasing the God of Death that we imagine might exist.

If you can avoid committing an immoral act, then it's a much simpler calculation, whatever helps the most people is the best option. But it has little to do with morality. A good outcome can happen by chance, and it can risk causing harm and not cause harm this time. Outcomes do not determine whether something is wise or morally upstanding.

Morality and ethics are meant to guide human behavior. Humans cannot predict every outcome, do not know what it means to do the best, should consider the negative consequences and avoid them as the highest priority, and should not consider gambling to be moral simply because it didn't cause a bad outcome this time.

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Evaluation of Deontology and Utilitarianism with respect to Organizational culture of the accounting profession and AICPA Code of Professional Conduct

The ethical norms of the accounting profession are derived from its organizational culture and are contained in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct (Liberty University). The presence of such a code of ethics in the accounting profession, as well as various rules of conduct, show that the profession is very much rules-based and points to a deontological ethics system (Buys, et al., 2012). In the Public Interest section, the Code (2014).

Devotion to duty and the rules that follow also show an emphasis on professional judgment-as opposed to personal judgment, which is more utilitarian in nature. The Code also points to a holistic, rather than individualistic, application perspective, which is also consistent with deontology (Liberty University).It must also be noted that deontology and utilitarianism have competing moral reasoning perspectives that must be examined considering the accounting profession (Abdolmohammadi, et al., 2006). Deontology is based on an orthodox moral reasoning perspective that determines moral authority with respect to an external, transcendent force. For the accounting profession, this would the Code. The Code serves as the external, transcendent force and is the authority for ethical decision making.

We have to consider what we don't know, what we can't predict, what we don't understand, our own flaws and selfish motives, as well as what the dangers are that we can know beforehand before decisions can be made about what are moral or immoral actions. Sometimes we don't have all the facts, and sometimes the facts can lead us to the wrong conclusion. Some people like the death penalty for example, and good people trying to make good decisions acting on behalf of the best knowledge we had at the time could justify murdering a person who we later find out is innocent.

That's why this action is immoral and one of the many reasons why I oppose the death penalty. But the murder of innocent people can be justified under utilitarianism. After all, some or most of the people you execute probably were guilty. Therefore, executing innocent people too, who cares. Utilitarianism says this is okay. We're doing the greatest good.

You can believe this nonsense until you're the one being executed wrongly. Then all of a sudden it will matter to you that we're killing folks who people think are guilty. You have a motivated self-interest to care. But you didn't before this moment, because of utilitarianism. It kills lots of undesirable folks, so, therefore, it must be okay. You've looked at the positive consequences first, and ignored the negative ones.

Utilitarianism is a great moral guideline that when pushed to its extremes can become absurdly absurd. You may be aware of the two main ethical theories: deontological ethics and utilitarian ethics. You can basically put these two extremes on a scale, where deontological ethics stands for something like blindly following certain rules that you will always follow, no matter the circumstances, and utilitarianism stands for coldly calculating the best possible outcome with complete disregard for any principles whatsoever. Both extremes can lead to some very absurd situations.

A classic example of deontological ethics leading to absurdity is that when a murderer shows up and he wants to kill someone who's hiding in your house, that you should honestly tell the murderer where that person is hiding. Most people find this absurd, and it directly contradicts the utilitarian perspective. It is very hard - read: impossible - to come up with rules that always tell you what the right thing to do is without taking into account the circumstances.

To give a more realistic example, the torturing of terrorists is often justified under the premise that hundreds or even thousands of people could benefit from it by preventing terrorist attacks if the tortured terrorists mention any crucial information. However, torture is a serious violation of human rights. I see human rights as one way (not the only way) of preventing the excesses of utilitarianism.
Another solution has been proposed by Karl Popper, who coined the term 'negative utilitarianism'. Instead of the greatest good for the greatest number as the criterion for making key decisions, which according to Popper could lead to utopianism, he proposed that we should minimize suffering instead:

To summarise: a reasonable form of negative utilitarianism, in combination with inviolable basic human rights, is a great moral guideline. Pushed to its extremes (both positive and negative utilitarianism), however, it can be used to justify unjustifiable atrocities.

Utilitarian Ethics speak directly to what our duties are: they are to maximize the well being of sentient beings. The best version of utilitarianism would resolve conflicts of interests in a way that they would be resolved by an ideal person who
• fully empathized with each of the conflicting parties, and with everyone else who would be affected, and
• who knew all of the relevant facts about how each sentient being would be affected.

Accounting, by its very nature, is closely linked to the concepts of trust, duty, and ethics. Accountants must adhere to certain standards, as outlined in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, to perform their duties and ensure the trust of the public. Sometimes duties and desires conflict, resulting in an ethical dilemma-a complex situation in which right and wrong aren't soclear. When ethical dilemmas arise, ethics systems are used to help determine the right action. The two major ethics systems that have been proposed for the accounting profession are utilitarianism and deontology. This research paper will define and evaluate both systems with respect to organizational culture in the accounting profession and a Christian worldview of ethics, an attempt to prove that deontology is more appropriate for the accounting profession. Utilitarianism is a teleological or consequentialist ethics system that judges the rightness or wrongness of action solely by its consequences. The central tenet of utilitarianism, as expressed by one of its chief contributors, John Stuart Mill, is that, "Actions areright in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (Duska, R., Duska, B.S., & Ragatz, 2011, p. 57). Today, utilitarianism is more often expressed by simply saying, "Do that action which will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number of people" (Duska et al., 2011, p. 57). It argues that utilitarianism has two advantages over alternative theories when applied to account: it links self-interest with moral behavior favorable for companies, which are self-interested by nature-and the calculation of benefit and harm is much like profit and loss accounting-and thus more likely to gain acceptance among businesspeople. Deontology, on the other hand, focuses on moral obligation or duty. The foremost philosopher of deontological ethics, Immanuel Kant, believed that there are ethical concerns withactions that themselves prohibit the action, despite the consequences. In asking "What should I do?" the answer results in a rule or an unqualified "ought" that Kant called a categorical imperative (Duska et al., 2011). In determining one's duty and thus the right action to take, Kant presented two formulas that must be sustained.

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