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Business Essay Ethical Theories

Business Essay Ethical Theories

The job of a consultant for the critical care unit in the hospital is crucial to help managers make vital decisions. This report analyzes the case of JoEllen, a 53 years old female patient who took an overdose of prescription medications with alcohol. The patient became uncommunicative and deteriorated health-wise; her son complained she should not have been placed on life support. This study uses three approaches to ethics using deontological, consequentialist, and virtue theories. The goal is to find the best solution to mitigate the ethical issue in the healthcare organization. Using these theoretical approaches, the solution to this ethical problem can be devised.

Ethical Theories and Approaches

Firstly, the Deontological ethics theory suggests that for healthcare professionals, some actions are a moral obligation of nurses regardless of their consequences (Reid, 2008). This means that nurses can do their duties for duty’s sake and get rewards through their virtue. Similarly, the Consequentiality Theory focuses on virtue as a disposition for improving consequences. This means that virtue is important for promoting good consequences in organizations; Moreover, virtue theory suggests that people can imagine the behavior of a good person and should behave in any situation like that person. This makes their everyday tasks more ethical and moral. However, the Consequentiality theory varies from the Virtue Theory; it suggests that the consequences of nurses’ actions matter morally and if the consequences are bad, they are morally doing wrong things or involved in wrong actions (Irwin, 2007). 

The above discussion related to these ethical theories shows that virtue theory helps to understand various attributes of good people. Nurses can follow these attributes such as courage, generosity, compassion, empathy, fairness, self-control, and prudence (Pauly et al., 2007).  Aristotle also explains virtue as a settled disposition because a virtuous person chooses their actions knowingly. Therefore, nurses can only use Virtue Theory when they have enough knowledge of choosing their actions for their own sake. This means nurses must have a strong character to make good choices that lead to positive outcomes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethical Theories

Regarding deontological theory, unlike consequentialism which measures nurses’ actions by their outcomes, deontology does not need the benefits of a situation. This means nurses cannot use subjective decisions and deteriorate the health of patients. This can stop nurses from choosing actions that lead to uncertain outcomes (Mercer, 2013). However, many scholars have criticized the virtue of consequentialism because it becomes impossible to know the outcome of a nursing choice beforehand. Moreover, Virtue Theory helps nurses to maintain personal relationships to improve their outcomes (Irwin, 2007). On the other hand, the biggest weakness of this theory is that it fails to provide a comprehensive answer to what virtues are and what nurses can do to solve ethical dilemmas.

Justification of the Application of an Ethical Theory

The case study shows that nurses and professionals used the principles of Virtue Theory and applied their best knowledge and judgment to bring the patient on life support. The choice of action turned out to be consequently disastrous for the patient whose condition significantly deteriorated due to being put on life support. The problem could have been solved effectively if nurses would have used the Deontological ethics theory principles.

For example, the theory suggests following the principle of “Do Not Kill” because their actions brought the patient near death. Killing someone based on wrong judgment or knowledge is not an ethical act; this theory also suggests that using their religious beliefs, nurses should have respected the patient and her feelings. This theory could have helped them avoid wrong thinking to save the patient from disastrous circumstances. Whereas, other approaches such as consequentialism can be criticized for being difficult as they cannot determine the right outcome before time (Reid, 2008). In this situation, the best theory would be the Deontological theory to apply to improve the situation faced by nurses.

Moreover, according to Hennig (2022), deontology approach does not require weighing benefits and costs associated with a situation. That allows nurses to eliminate subjectivity and making objective decisions. By removing uncertainty, this theory can be best suited in this situation because it provides nurses specific rules to follow. Therefore, Deontological theory can help nurses better to choose an action that is right instead of wrong (Fry, 2008). Hence, by following these ethical rules and theories, nurses can avoid any uncertain results or outcomes.


Fry, C. L., Khoshnood, K., Power, R., & Sharma, M. (2008). Harm reduction ethics: Acknowledging the values and beliefs behind our actions. The International Journal on Drug Policy, 19(1), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2007.12.001

Hennig, M. (2022). Understanding” Deontology” and” Utilitarianism” in Moral Dilemma Judgment-A Multinomial Modeling Approach (Doctoral dissertation, Universität Tübingen).

Business Essay Ethical Theories

Irwin, K. S., & Fry, C. L. (2007). Strengthening drug policy and practice through ethics engagement: an old challenge for a new harm reduction. The International Journal on Drug Policy, 18(2), 75–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2006.12.002

Mercer T. (2013). Aristotle on drugs. The New Bioethics: AMultidisciplinary Journal of Biotechnology and the Body, 19(2), 84–96. https://doi.org/10.1179/2050287713z.00000000030

Pauly, B., Goldstone, I., McCall, J., Gold, F., & Payne, S. (2007). The ethical, legal and social context of harm reduction. The Canadian nurse, 103(8), 19–23.

Reid, G., Devaney, M. L., & Baldwin, S. (2008). Harm reduction programmes in the Asia–Pacific Region. Drug and Alcohol Review, 27(1), 95–98. https://doi.org/10.1080/09595230701711173

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