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Day 16 – Q 4.What is deontology? Do you agree with its principles?

4. What is deontology? Do you agree with its principles? 

डोनटोलॉजी क्या हैक्या आप इसके सिद्धांतों से सहमत हैं?


Deontology is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action.


  • It is often associated with philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant believed that ethical actions follow universal moral laws, such as “Don’t lie.  Don’t steal.  Don’t cheat.”
  • This is generally the philosophy of most of the organized religions. Bhagwat Geeta says that your duty is important rather than the consequences. The five vows of Jainism too are based on deontological ethics.
  • According to Mahatma Gandhi also, wrong means cannot lead to a right end.

Principles of deontology:

  • Deontology just requires that people follow the rules and do their duty.
  • It doesn’t require weighing the costs and benefits of a situation. This avoids subjectivity and uncertainty because you only have to follow set rules.

In favour:

  • By applying ethical duties to all people in all situations the theory is readily applied to most practical situations.
  • By focusing on a person’s intentions, it also places ethics entirely within our control – we can’t always control or predict the outcomes of our actions, but we are in complete control of our intentions.
  • There are absolute principles, like do not cheat, do not steal etc. which apply to everyone.
  • There are things you have to do, even though you know they are wrong, such as shooting that intruder to protect your family.


  • It is seen as strongly opposed to utilitarianism as it ignores what is at stake in terms of consequences. Kant, for example, argued it would be unethical to lie about the location of our friend, even to a person trying to murder them! 
  • Bioethical decisions in areas such as abortion, euthanasia, cloning, organ harvesting, end-of-life decisions, etc. are against the ethics of a medical practitioner, yet practiced for the greater good.
  • It can produce results that can be unacceptable to most. For example, suppose you’re a software engineer and learn that a nuclear missile is about to launch that might start a war. You can hack the network and cancel the launch, but it’s against your professional code of ethics to break into any software system without permission. And, it’s a form of lying and cheating. Deontology advises not to violate this rule. However, in letting the missile launch, thousands of people will die.


The rigidity of deontology can be done away by using threshold deontology, which argues we should always obey the rules unless in an emergency situation, at which point we should revert to a consequentialist approach.

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