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President Obama addresses State of the Union

by on February 13, 2013

Last night, February 12, 2013, President Obama addressed the nation with the State of the Union Speech. The President shed light on many of the nation’s issues, including reducing the deficit, bringing troops home from Afghanistan, keeping up with renewable energy in America, integrating early education and high school education improvement plans, and providing jobs to make sure those who work full-time do not need to suffer in poverty. President Obama spoke about all of these issues within the first thirty minutes of his speech, and as he spoke, I thought it would be interesting to see how the President supported his arguments and propositions in terms of ethics.

We talked in class about how supporting ethical decisions can either stem from a deontological approach or a teleological approach. Last night, the President spoke from a deontological approach, meaning he addressed issues saying “I believe this is right because…” or something like, “The American people deserve this so…”. Many of Obama’s plans focused on bringing both the Democratic and Republican party together so that a collective plan can be formulated to solve the nation’s many problems. I think addressing the future plans of the nation is best done as Obama did it, with a deontological approach, because it made the President seem like he was more-so concerned about the American people and what they want, rather than what the parties think is best.

Had the President taken a teleological approach to his Sate of the Union Speech, I think he would have gotten a lot more backlash. As we know, history does often repeat itself but it is hard to put so much reliance on this idea by saying something like “It has happened before, it will happen again.” I think the President chose to address the State of the Union with a deontological approach because the he believes in the people of America and that these people need to be responsible for making the decisions of the future of the nation. If Obama took the steps according to a deontological approach, than he would have first identified the principles, and why he believes in his proposals. Next, the President would have had to prioritized the principles- meaning, would it be more important to be honest and to tell the truth as our nation stands, or rather to keep the peace and avoid further conflict. Lastly, the President would have to decide what he is going to do, and explain how his values led to these decisions for the fate of our nation, then take action.

What do you think Obama could have successfully argued if he had addressed the State of the Union with a teleological approach? Do you agree that this is best done with a deonotological approach? What do you think would have been the benefits and consequnces of using a teleological approach during the speech?

If you are still confused about the clear differences between deontology and teleology, check out this site for clarification:

If you missed the State of the Union address or want a recap, here it is published online in text format:

Read this article before responding, as it references Obama and deontology ethics:


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