This page features a collection of the best resources on deontological ethics. Just to be clear, there is no single best resource on deontological ethics. The best one will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time you want to spend learning about it.
To get started, simply choose one of the links below:
If you want a comprehensive overview of deontological ethics:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Deontological Ethics. However, you should keep in mind that the Stanford Encyclopedia in often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 11,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces deontological ethics:
“The word deontology derives from the Greek words for duty (deon) and science (or study) of (logos). In contemporary moral philosophy, deontology is one of those kinds of normative theories regarding which choices are morally required, forbidden, or permitted. In other words, deontology falls within the domain of moral theories that guide and assess our choices of what we ought to do (deontic theories), in contrast to those that guide and assess what kind of person we are and should be (aretaic [virtue] theories). And within the domain of moral theories that assess our choices, deontologists—those who subscribe to deontological theories of morality—stand in opposition to consequentialists. . . .
In contrast to consequentialist theories, deontological theories judge the morality of choices by criteria different from the states of affairs those choices bring about. The most familiar forms of deontology, and also the forms presenting the greatest contrast to consequentialism, hold that some choices cannot be justified by their effects—that no matter how morally good their consequences, some choices are morally forbidden. . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the Best Books on Deontological Ethics
For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.