Abortion: Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics Ideas

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I will discuss in this paper how Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics are the two theories that we should live by in order to be morally successful. We will also explore the “behind the scenes” of what both of these theories mean. Ethics alone refers to what is morally right and what is morally wrong. We will discover how these theories affect each decision you will make and what the consequences will be. I will provide examples and arguments to support my standing on how we should behave with any given circumstance.

In this essay, I will describe how Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics are applied to a specific question: Is abortion morally and ethically right? I will start by explaining what Virtue and Duty Ethics mean and incorporate these theories into how we should look at abortion. Purposefully committing death is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed no matter what the condition.

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Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics

With the theories that have been studied thus far, there were only two that stood out the most: Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics. These are both metaethics theories that describe what actions were being taken when coming to decision. By having a stable understanding of what metaethics is, allows us to critically evaluate our own moral convictions as well as evaluating other people’s moral convictions. It also allows us to advocate on behalf of what we think is morally right.

That being said, Virtue Ethics is considered to be a “list metaethic.” The basis of this theory was started on the belief that there was a reason for everything that exists; with every action aims at some end, some goal or purpose. What this means is that there is a list with two separate categories. A list of actions that are considered moral and a list of actions that are immoral. Under a moral dilemma, you would approach these lists to decide what is morally right and morally wrong. When faced with a tough situation, you wouldn’t have to base your decision on emotion or experience, you would strictly go by the lists. It would eliminate the conflict of choosing what to decide. Nonetheless, a couple of issues this theory has is that you encounter so much in your life that these lists would be extremely long, and you will never know if your list is truly finished. Virtue solely means behavior having high moral standards. For instance, if you are reached with a situation that has more than one outcome, you would go to the two lists of what would be right and what would be wrong to determine what would be the best moral outcome. If you were at work and you find twenty dollars on the ground, what would you do? Pick up the money and keep it, give it to the manager that is working, or would you try to find out who the money would belong to? Consulting the lists of would be right will help you objectively choose the best course of action. In this scenario, giving the money to the manager would appear in the morally right column as well as trying to find who the money belongs to. However, giving the money to the manager would be more correct than trying to find the person who it belongs to by yourself. Keeping the money for yourself evidently would go in the morally wrong category.

Duty Ethics could be expressed as morality being unconditional. Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher, believed that moral absolute will be true everywhere, all the time, for everyone. These morals will be universal. Some of the general rules would be it is wrong to kill, it is wrong to lie, it is wrong to steal, it is right to keep promises if it is not conflicting with the other rules. Moral decisions wouldn’t be based on experiences but must come from a rational point of view. We shouldn’t follow our common sense when we cross a moral dilemma because common sense depends on cultural construct which varies from culture to culture. Kant says, “I should never act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law.” This theory is called categorical imperative because it is not conditional, meaning it is not based on the outcome of what you want. People have a duty to do the right thing even if the result is bad. This theory applies to everyone no where they come from or what their background is. To represent this, it is wrong to tell a lie even if it is to get something you want or to cover up for someone else. But how specific should these duties be. What if telling the truth cause the death of some you are trying to protect? No matter what it is your duty to what is right even if the outcome is not what you want.

Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics are similar in the fact that they both require people to act like a good person and choose to make good actions. Virtue Ethics says that a person must do good things to get good things in return by using the two lists: what is morally right and what is morally wrong. Duty Ethics means that everyone has a duty or purpose to do what is right and morally obligated to fulfill that. Overall, Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics would be great theories for everyone to live by.


Abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. There are two types of abortion: medical and surgical. Medication abortion terminates the embryo by taking a form of medicine. Surgical abortion ends a pregnancy by emptying the uterus (or womb) with special instruments. Each year almost half of all pregnancies among American women are unintended and about half of these unplanned pregnancies, 1.3 million, are ended by abortion. Abortion has been morally problematic for over fifty years.

An action is right if and only if it is what the virtuous agent would do in the same circumstances. The main focus of Virtue Ethics is the role of one’s character. Most people face their moral decisions naturally by relying on their culture and everything they’ve grown up doing. We naturally see the logic of our own position and struggle to see the logic of any position that is in tension with our own. This alone makes it difficult to be objective when it comes to a moral dilemma such as abortion. It is key to have knowledge on both sides of the argument before taking a clear side. On the pro-life side, Virtue Ethics begins with two parts: the status of the fetus and the aspect of women’s right. Before defining abortion as morally right or morally wrong, it is important to discover both points of view. First, let’s start with the status of the fetus. Deciding on whether the fetus is “human” or not. The pro-life would agree that it is while the pro-choice would argue that is it anything but “human.” Pro-choice accepts that the embryo is in fact human, but it sees the embryo as cancer, wart, or something that was unwanted. Determining which view you have on the status of the fetus determines what would be morally acceptable.

Now let’s consider the view on woman’s rights. Specifically, not woman’s rights based on the rights and wrongs of the law. If we suppose that women do have a moral right to do as they choose with their own bodies to terminate their pregnancies, then it may well follow that a law forbidding abortion would be unjust. Women have the right to do what they want with their own bodies; Making a law against what women can do to themselves would be considered wrong. There are many myths that come with picking a side on abortion which may construe your view on if abortion is right. Those include women are using abortion as a method of birth control, women have abortions for selfish reasons, women are often forced into having abortions they do not really want, and many women regret their abortions later.

It is necessary to know these facts before coming to a conclusion in order to be objective. According to Duty Ethics, the view of abortion that emerges takes abortion to be morally problematic over anything, but is sometimes permissible, and sometimes required. Abortion is considered morally problematic because it demands that the woman act against her moral feelings. Duty Ethics are universal not based on the wanted outcome. Women have their own duty to themselves, but we are also obligated to further our feelings of love and sympathy. The controversy with being pro-life or pro-choice would be denying our duty toward having love. When a woman kills her developing fetus, it goes against a woman’s morally important tendencies toward love and sympathy. This approach doesn’t use women’s feelings as the basis for an argument to limit access to their abortion. It is our duty to be loving and having sympathy. This means we have some obligation to the fetus growing inside of us. Abortion kills and removes a woman’s offspring from her body.

Some could say that women also have a duty to their body in the sense of being physically healthy. There are a number of issues that come from being pregnant, some of them that are life-threatening. Pregnancy has always been dangerous. Pregnancy-related that can threaten the life of the mother include gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), and thrombophlebitis (blood clot formation). The worse ultimately is dying from natural childbirth. All of this should be taken into account when considering abortion. In this case, it would be morally right to have an abortion if it prevents the death of the mother.

There are many different views on how to establish if abortion in morally right or morally wrong. Using Virtue and Duty Ethics makes to decision on abortion clear and just. Using these theories prevent opinions from getting in the way and clouding your judgement. Getting to know both sides of the argument before you make your decision is crucial because it makes you become the most objective. Once again, abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often preformed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. Virtue Ethics applied to abortion comes in two parts: defining the status of the fetus and defining woman’s rights. When it comes to Duty Ethics, women have a duty to having/ showing love and sympathy as well as having a duty to themselves. It is their obligation to make sure they are physically healthy and are not being threatened by pregnancy illness.


Abortion is morally wrong unless you are in return saving a live. Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics play a role is distinguishing on how to view this topic. Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics are similar in the fact that they both require people to act like a good person and do good actions. Virtue Ethics says that a person must do good things to get good things in return by using two lists: what is morally right and what is morally wrong. Duty Ethics means that everyone has a duty or purpose to do what is right and is morally obligated to fulfill that. Overall, Virtue Ethics and Duty Ethics are great theories to live by.


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