Normative Ethical Decision-making Frameworks

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 706 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Words: 706|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks
  3. Utilitarianism
  4. Deontological Ethics
  5. Virtue Ethics
  6. Comparisons and Contrasts between Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks
  7. Critiques and Challenges to Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks
  8. Conclusion
  9. References


As a college student, understanding normative ethical decision-making frameworks is essential for making responsible and ethical choices in various aspects of life. These frameworks provide a systematic approach to ethical decision-making, offering guidance on how individuals should act in morally challenging situations. This essay will provide an overview of normative ethical decision-making frameworks, including utilitarianism, deontological ethics, and virtue ethics, and examine their strengths, weaknesses, and real-life application. Additionally, it will analyze the similarities, differences, and critiques of these frameworks, ultimately highlighting their significance in guiding ethical decision-making.

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Overview of Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks

Normative ethics refers to the philosophical study of ethical action, which aims to determine what actions are right or wrong. Normative ethical decision-making frameworks are pivotal in guiding individuals in making morally sound decisions. These frameworks provide principles, rules, and values to help individuals evaluate the morality of their actions and the actions of others. The main normative ethical frameworks include utilitarianism, deontological ethics, and virtue ethics, each of which offers a unique perspective on ethical decision-making.


Utilitarianism is a consequentialist ethical theory that emphasizes maximizing overall happiness and minimizing suffering. According to utilitarianism, the moral worth of an action is determined by its contribution to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This framework prioritizes the consequences of actions and weighs the potential benefits and harms. While utilitarianism provides a clear and practical approach to ethical decision-making, it has been criticized for potentially justifying actions that violate individual rights or prioritize the majority over the minority.

Deontological Ethics

Deontological ethics, on the other hand, focuses on the inherent moral worth of actions rather than their consequences. This framework emphasizes the importance of duties, rules, and obligations in guiding ethical behavior. Deontological ethics places a strong emphasis on moral consistency, autonomy, and respecting the rights of individuals. However, critics argue that deontological ethics may lead to rigid moral rules and fail to account for the complexity of real-life moral situations.

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics, in contrast to the previous two frameworks, prioritizes the development of virtuous character traits in individuals. This approach seeks to cultivate moral character and promote ethical behavior by focusing on the virtues of honesty, courage, compassion, and justice. While virtue ethics offers a holistic view of ethical decision-making and emphasizes the importance of personal virtues, it has been criticized for lacking clear guidance on specific moral dilemmas and actions.

Comparisons and Contrasts between Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks

Although each normative ethical framework has distinct principles and approaches, there are also similarities and differences between them. All three frameworks aim to guide ethical decision-making and prioritize moral conduct, yet they differ in their theoretical underpinnings and practical implications. Utilitarianism prioritizes consequences, deontological ethics focuses on duties and obligations, and virtue ethics emphasizes character development. The effectiveness and applicability of each framework depend on the specific ethical dilemma and contextual factors.

Critiques and Challenges to Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks

Normative ethical decision-making frameworks are not without their critiques and challenges. Ethical relativism and cultural differences pose significant challenges to the universal application of these frameworks, as moral values and norms may vary across different cultures and societies. Additionally, ethical dilemmas and conflicting obligations may test the boundaries of these frameworks, requiring individuals to navigate complex moral situations that do not have clear-cut solutions. Integrating multiple frameworks or adopting hybrid approaches may offer a more nuanced and comprehensive ethical decision-making process.

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In conclusion, normative ethical decision-making frameworks play a crucial role in guiding individuals to make ethically responsible choices in various contexts. While utilitarianism, deontological ethics, and virtue ethics offer distinct perspectives on ethical decision-making, they all contribute to the overarching goal of promoting moral conduct and ethical behavior. Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and real-life applications of these frameworks is essential for navigating moral dilemmas and making informed ethical decisions. By critically evaluating these frameworks and addressing their critiques and challenges, individuals can develop a more nuanced and robust approach to ethical decision-making.


  1. Ethics Unwrapped. (n.d.). Normative Ethics: Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Virtue Ethics.
  2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2021). Consequentialism.
  3. Rachels, J. (2019). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
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Prof. Linda Burke

Cite this Essay

Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks. (2024, January 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from
“Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks.” GradesFixer, 31 Jan. 2024,
Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Jun. 2024].
Normative Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jan 31 [cited 2024 Jun 17]. Available from:
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