As people in this world, and good citizens, we are concerned not only with what actions are morally right and morally wrong, but what makes actions morally right or morally wrong.  The key is to understand the reasoning that we employ in ethical decision making so we can become more proficient.

Ethical frameworks are perspectives useful for reasoning what course of action may provide the most moral outcome. In many cases, a person may not use a reasoning process but rather do what they simply feel is best at the time. Others may reflexively use a principle they learned from their family, peers, religious teachings or own experiences. The study of ethics has provided many principles that can aid in ethical decision making. Some of the most common are captured in the following 5 ethical frameworks:

  • Virtue ethics : What is moral is what makes us the best person we could be.
  • Deontology : What is moral is what follows from absolute moral duties.
  • Utilitarianism : What is morally right is what generates the best outcome for the largest number of people.
  • Rights-based Ethics : What is moral is that which is in accord with everyone's rights.
  • Care-based Ethics : What is moral is that which promotes healthy relationships and the well-being of individuals and their interdependence.

The videos below provide a description of these.

Please remember that these and other ethical frameworks are considered differently by people from diverse societies around the world including Asian, African, Native American and others.

Virtue ethics : What is moral is what makes us the best person we could be.

Deontology : What is moral is what follows from absolute moral duties.

Utilitarianism : What is morally right is what generates the best outcome for the largest number of people.

Rights-based Ethics : What is moral is that which is in accord with everyone's rights.

Care-based Ethics : What is moral is that which promotes healthy relationships and the well-being of individuals and their interdependence.