Application of Normative Theories in Dr. Smith case

Normative Theories

Normative theories are moral theories that assist us in determining what is right and wrong. There are five theories in total: utilitarianism, the categorical imperative, Aristotelian virtue ethics, Stoic virtue ethics, and W.D Ross' intuitionism (Gothelf 27). The two theories will be the primary subject of this study. That is the theory of Aristotle and utilitarianism. Furthermore, the article will be applied to the instance of Doctor John Smith, a psychiatrist who follows a strict confidentiality policy with parents who abuse their children.

Importance of Normative Theories

In terms of learning, normative theories are the most valuable gift that any philosopher should contemplate. From the normative theory perception, a scholar has to reason with his or her conscience to find what is good or wrong and weigh out what they think is the best theory to apply in life decision. In a moral view of human deeds, these theories to some extent have points to debate on and all has been applied during formation of the laws that govern people, fundamental concepts of different institutions and individual's principle. The normative theories have views on how issues and ideas should be treated when one has to decide on what is wrong or right. Nonetheless, the two theories have got shortcomings since they are the products of human thoughts and knowledge. So, as a scholar, it would be of value if you trade carefully when trying to link what is right or wrong and is being ignored. In fact, some of the issues addressed by the five theories are more applicable to most human careers and the daily life decisions made by humans. The normative theory tends to focus on how the world ought to be rather than what it is today.

The Utilitarian Theory

In the utilitarian theory, it has a view that human beings should use common sense and benchmark the outcome of their actions (Gotthelf 27). It disagrees with the concept that there are either good or bad thing in life but rather it bases on the outcome of an action. The consequence of an action is what can be termed to be as right or wrong. Therefore, from the utilitarian view if the impact of an action produces satisfying fulfilling consequences then it is what is right. On the other hand, if it does not yield a satisfying effect, then it is wrong. Nonetheless, this view is criticized on the fact that, what is satisfactory to another is relative to another person.

Aristotelian Virtue View

In the Aristotelian virtue view, brings two concepts (Gotthelf 29). First, the human goal is to be happy and that is the main goal humans should strive to promote. Second, is that the humans to learn habits and beliefs that make us happy in our entire life. Aristotle suggests that so long as our actions do not collide with happiness then that is what is moral. Additionally, he advocates that happiness is the end product of a fulfilling life. That is, happiness is the ultimate goal. Therefore, according to this theory, final ends are goals worth adopting and desiring for purpose of happiness sake (Gotthelf 29).

Application of Normative Theories in Dr. Smith's Case

In Smith's case, the moral questions that arise are the value of virtues of what is right and wrong. For example, is it fair and justifiable for him not to report to the authorities his clients abusing kids? The second question is whether he is happy and contented with the continued actions of and the results of client's behavior. The third moral question is that if abusing of the clients' children is as a better way to treat kids when they do wrong? The final ethical question is whether he is the one to determine whether the parents will continue to abuse their children. All these questions revolve around the ethical question. It also captures on what is to be considered morally right to either the law of the lands, to an individual, group and to the humanity as a whole (Hurst house 645). This drives one point home that whether we do something wrong to make a right it never equally substantiates to be the right thing for the wrong thing committed. Moreover, we need to consider moral consequences of our actions.

Possible Answers in Dr. Smith's Case

The possible answers for the confidentiality issue may be analyzed in two angles. One is the concept of the utilitarian view. In this view, it is not justifiable since the consequence of his actions are not fulfilling. This because a number of his clients are serious abusers of the kids and continue doing this knowing Smith will not report them to the authorities. Therefore, going by this view it is not morally justifiable (Hurst house 645). On the view of Aristotelian view, it is justifiable. This is because Dr. Smith believes that whatever is doing is the right thing to do in his line profession and practice. Additionally, taking it on Aristotle second point of view the clients will remain happy provided that their information is kept confidential and the names not included in reports. This makes it justifiable on individuals view of moral and practice. According to him, it is impractical to use rules and philosophical arguments to make a personal judgment so does Smith apply Aristotle concept.

Morally speaking, it is wrong for Smith to protect the client's reputation at the expense of the abuse of children. This may result in death cases on the kids who will continually be abused. This because the psychological torture of the children's life likely continues even if their parents stop. On the other hand, if he decides to report the abusers, he might lose many clients. However, it will give the authority reasons to be vigilant on cases of children abuse. Consequently, awareness campaign can be raised giving the children the courage to report cases of abuse on them. These consequences tend to bring to different outcomes. The outcomes of losing clients might mean the end or reduced in Smith's career success while happiness and self-satisfaction will arise in both the children and authority's duties to end cases of child abuse.


Finally, Smith confidentiality policy is only justifiable if there is no continued abuse of the kids. One would reason that if the clients cease henceforth with it will mean change of behavior of the parents hence a success on his practice leading to satisfaction. On the contrary, if the protected clients continue to abuse kids it will be of no use. This makes it unjustifiable as he will be contributing to injurious and harmful impacts on the children. In summary, what is justifiable is what is generally accepted and gives a fulfilling end result to the humanity and anything that undermines peaceful co-existence is morally wrong and is on contrary to the normative ethical theories (Hurst house 645).

Works Cited

Gotthelf, Allan, and James G. Lennox. "Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue: Studies in Ayn Rand's Normative Theory." (2014): 23- 31

Hurst house, Rosalind. "Normative virtue ethics." ETHICA 645 (2013).

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