There are four types of theories on ethics, which help to create the fundamental principles of obligation suitable and applicable to professional and personal conduct of a person in his everyday life. These theories are essential for cause of right action and morality.
“Golden mean” ethics (Aristotle, 384 – 322 B.C.). The best solution is achieved through reason and logic and is a compromise or “golden mean” between extremes of excess and deficiency.
For example, in the case of the environment, the golden mean between the extremes of neglect and exploitation might be protection.
Problem : Variability from one person to another in their powers of reasoning and the difficulty in applying the theory to ethical problems.
“Rights – based” ethics (John Locke, 1632 – 1704). Every person is free and equal and has the right to life, health, liberty and possessions (in effect prohibiting capital punishment, medical charges, jails and income taxes).
Problem : One person’s right may be in conflict with another’s rights.
“Duty – based” ethics (Immanual Kant, 1724 – 1804). Each person has a duty to follow a course of action that would be universally acceptable for everyone to follow without exception. (Thus we would all be honest, kind, generous and peaceful).
Problem : Universal application of a rule can be harmful.
“Utilitarian” ethics (John Stuart Mill, 1806 – 1873). The best choice is that which produces the maximum benefit for the greatest number of people (which could endanger minority rights).
Problem : Quantification of the benefits can be difficult.
All these theories can be differentiated on the basis of what they provide for moral concept, good results for all, duties and human rights.