Criticisms of Utilitarianism and Deontology

Although in many ways very different, both deontology and utilitarianism are based on an understanding of human beings as rational actors. The book suggests that there are some problems with both theories to the extent that they presuppose a rational actor. What are some of these problems?

The book also briefly sketches out some alternatives to utilitarianism and deontology. The most significant of these are virtue ethics, feminist ethics, and moral imagination approaches. How are these approaches different from the utilitarian and deontological approaches that they criticize?

The philosopher Jacques Derrida’s critique of ethics is especially radical. According to Derrida, if we reduce ethical decision making to the mere following or rules then ethics becomes impossible. In our ethical relationships with other human beings there is an essential undecidability that resides in the heart of all decisions, including ethical ones. After all, if there was no undecidability, then there would be no decision to be made as there would be no question about what is the correct course of action. This critique strikes deeper than simply observing that sometimes we have inadequate information, and if we had this information we would be able to make the right decision. Rather the very possibility of making a decision depends upon a deeper undecidability that can not be resolved through reason.

According to Derrida, what problems arise when we turn away from the aporias that reside at the heart of ethical thinking? How do these problems manifest themselves in business?

Why, according to Derrida, is it impossible to give a gift? And what are the implications of this impossibility in for gift giving in business?

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