Five Types of Ethical Theory

An individual's behavior and ethical conduct

An individual's behavior, interactions, and treatment of others in a society are governed by a code of conduct known as ethics (Melden, 2013). In an effort to describe ethical behavior, various ideas and hypotheses have been established. Moral risks, for example, have been linked to ethical behavior and may be seen in the case study below.

Ethical formalism and its perspective on behavior

Instead than focusing on particular settings, ethical formalism frequently examines action from the coherent point of view (Dewey, 2016). In order to identify what is good or incorrect behavior, ethical formalism frequently refers to law or established standards (Dewey, 2016). It would be wrong to suffocate the infant in this situation because homicide is against the law. An ethical formalist will, therefore, say that the woman should not suffocate the baby if he starts crying.

Ethical utilitarianism and consideration of consequences

Ethical utilitarianism looks at the results of actions, and the relevance of an activity or behavior is dependent on the good or bad effects it has (Burawoy, 2014). This theory also considers the interests of all beings equally (Broad, 2014). The woman, in this case, would have to look at the effect that the crying baby would have on their lives, they would be found out and killed by the radical military group. If she suffocated him, she would be able to save herself and her other children. An ethical utilitarian would say that the mother should smother the baby.

Ethical situationism and the role of specific situations and motives

Ethical situationism considers the specific situation and the motives, rather than the law or set standards of actions (Burawoy, 2014). Essentially as Burawoy (2014) states, an abnormal reaction to an unusual situation is a typical reaction to a rational human being. The woman could, therefore, suffocate the baby unconsciously or unintentionally, not with a motive to kill, but with the intent of silencing the baby.


Broad, C. D. (2014). Five types of ethical theory, Journal of Philosophy, 28 (11).

Burawoy, M. (2014). The public sociology debate: Ethics and engagement. UBC Press.

Dewey, J. (2016). Ethics. Read Books Ltd.

Melden, A. (2013). Ethical theories. Read Books Ltd.

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