Deontological ethics are the ethics of duty and obligations. Deontologists maintain that actions are either intrinsically right or wrong, regardless or the consequences, and that consequences indeed should not even enter in to the decision of how to behave. In fact, an individual who practices deontological ethics could completely believe in the virtues of the outcome of a particular behavior, but still believe that said behavior should not performed because the behavior itself is morally wrong (Kordig, 1973). It is the behavior that has "intrinsic value" (Roth, 1995); the intent behind the action is what matters, not the outcome of said action. Humans are rewarded or punished according to actions within our control, and it only our intent that we indeed have control over, not necessarily the consequences (Wofford College online, 1997).
There are two types of deontological ethics: act deontology and rule deontology. Act deontology maintains that there are no firm ethical rules to be followed when making ethical decisions. Instead, decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, with each individual doing what he or she feels to be the right thing to do at the time. This paper, however, will focus on the more common form of deontology, rule deontology.
Rule deontology maintains that "there are or can be rules" that can be followed when making ethical decisions (Thiroux, 2001). There are three major ways of thought regarding how these rules are established. The first, Divine Command Theory, maintains that these rules are set by God or another supernatural being and that human beings must follow these rules if they are to be moral (Thiroux, 2001). .
The second, and more complex rule deontological theory is that of Immanuel Kant's Duty Ethics. Kant believed that every human being has an inclination to behave in a certain ways, whether they are positive behaviors, such as participating in volunteer efforts, or negative behaviors, such as abusing children.