Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Exploring Ethical Theories: Perspectives on Substantive Ethical Questions

Ethical theories help us to understand and resolve sticky moral issues. This essay is devoted to exploring the following three substantive ethical questions in light of different isolated and social-individual ethics theories. The isolated-individual style encompasses utilitarianism, egoism, and deontological ethics, while the social-individual framework includes ethics of care and virtue ethics. This essay will explain these ethical theories connected to the questions below and explore their strengths and limitations.

Substantive Ethical Question 1: The moral question of whether intentionally killing someone to end their suffering constitutes murder.

Euthanasia refers to the act of ending a person’s life for the sake of easing their suffering and being stuck with ethical difficulties. As a theory of isolated individuals, utilitarianism evaluates this problem as to what maximizes overall happiness. Ethically, euthanasia has its place if it brings an end to a person’s suffering from the point of view of utilitarian happiness (DeGrazia & Millum, 2021). Utilitarianism can end up focusing on the happiness of the majority at the expense of individuals. Conversely, virtue ethics is a social-individual framework theory that stresses character and moral virtues. Virtue ethicists, on the other hand, may emphasize such considerations as compassion and empathy. For example, for a doctor to sympathize with the suffering of someone approaching death while also respecting their decisions might constitute virtue. Virtue ethics stresses individual virtues but may not provide precise specifications for practical ethical dilemmas.

In comparison, Utilitarianism provides a simple criterion for evaluating euthanasia in terms of consequences and all-around well-being. It may thus have the drawback of neglecting individual rights and freedom. The second school is virtue ethics, which considers individual virtue and character but needs a clear decision-making method.

Substantive Ethical Question 2: Environmental Conservation: The ethical question of our responsibility towards nature and future generations, including whether we should prioritize environmental conservation and sustainability.

Environmental conservation is an ethical question and concerns our obligation to nature and posterity. Expanding on the isolated-individual framework, utilitarianism judges this matter mainly on whether or not it benefits most people. Utilitarians could say that in designing policies, we must look at the long-term impact of environmental degradation and weigh the overall well-being (Jakob et al. 2020). But this could also result in the exploitation of natural resources, damaging the environment and affecting human interests. From this social-individual perspective, the ethics of care emphasizes relationships and mutualism. The advocates of this theory maintain that we should protect the environment because it is in our interests and for future generations. Ethics of care emphasizes empathy and responsibility, calling for more sustainable environmental preservation. While utilitarianism provides a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate environmental problems, it also criticizes the short-sightedness of myopic economics. The ethics of care is more selfish and long-range, stressing the interrelatedness between humanity and nature. However, it offers less concrete directions regarding how to judge different environmental values that conflict.

Substantive Ethical Question 3: Truth-telling in Medicine: Whether healthcare providers should always disclose the truth to their patients, even when it may lead to harm or distress.

The subject of truth-telling in medicine is concerned with whether or not medical personnel should tell all the facts to their patients, even if it will cause harm. The isolated-individual framework of deontological ethics views truth-telling as an absolute duty. Understood this way, honest and respecting a person’s autonomy supersede momentary pain. Does deontological ethics offer a clear, principle-based approach to truth-telling? In contrast, egoism is another isolated-individual framework theory emphasizing the individual as a single unit, uniqueness, and autonomy. Some egoists will say it is not entirely unreasonable to deny patients information if it benefits the healthcare provider and medical institution (Lennon, 2023). But this might also be detrimental to patients ‘confidence and self-determination.

From the social-individual perspective, the ethics of care emphasizes empathy and relationality. Many care ethicists maintain that truth-telling should be interpreted because of emotional or pathological issues on the patient side and the quality of doctor-patient relations. This is a humanistic approach but does not provide specific instructions on when or how to weigh the truth against patient welfare. In this situation, Deontological ethical theory provides a clear moral rule–be honest, respect the patient’s autonomy, and so on. By contrast, egoism fosters self-interested practice that could damage patient trust and health. The ethics of care respects empathy and relationships but needs to be more rigorous to yield unchanging rules.


These ethical theories offer insights into fundamental moral issues and view things from different angles. Regarding euthanasia, Utilitarianism highlights consequences without paying mind to an individual’s rights; Virtue Ethics does not elaborate on a decision-making process but is only concerned with character. Suppose we apply this approach to the problem of environmental protection. In that case, Utilitarianism might produce short-term interests while focusing on Ethics of Care can steer us toward a more sustainable way. In the last analysis, regarding truth-telling in medicine, Deontological ethics is based on academic principles rather than an understanding of patient emotions; Egoism gives precedence over others ‘trust; and Ethics of Care relies too much on feeling without ground rules. The strengths and weaknesses of each ethical theory lie in particular communal contexts.

Meanwhile, utilitarianism gives people a calculus for comparative assessment in decision-making. Principled action is the basis of deontological ethics, which stresses moral principles and duties. Virtue Ethics, however, emphasizes character and virtue to select the right or wrong paths. The Ethics of Care stresses empathy and relationships, considering the mutually dependent nature of moral choices. But egoism is all very good when it helps explain self-interest, but what about cases where a broader ethical principle must be applied? Moral discussions should simultaneously evaluate several ethical theories to approach more complicated issues. From these isolated-individual and social-individual explanatory theories, we can understand the subtleties of ethical responsibility more clearly. It also helps us make clearer judgments regarding our choices in dealing with ethical issues.


DeGrazia, D., & Millum, J. (2021). A theory of bioethics. Cambridge University Press.,+utilitarianism+evaluates+this+problem+as+to+what+maximizes+the+overall+happiness.+Ethically,+perhaps+euthanasia+has+its+place+if+it+brings+an+end+to+a+person%27s+suffering+from+the+point+of+view+of+utilitarian+happiness&ots=5quTBJFaCa&sig=vUet7Xcn4oXd72Rk9-ZWcGiRS0Y

Jakob, M., Lamb, W. F., Steckel, J. C., Flachsland, C., & Edenhofer, O. (2020). It is understanding different perspectives on economic growth and climate policy. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 11(6), e677.

Lennon, J. (2023). Patients who decide to forgo Breast Cancer Treatment: Perspectives and Experiences of Cancer Professionals (Doctoral dissertation, University of East London).


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics