After discussing and reading about the great philosophers' theories on ethical decisions, I came to some interesting conclusions. First of all, I love not being a philosophy major. Second of all, I think there are good elements to Aristotle's, Kant's, and Mill's theories. I think my personal philosophy is a combination of virtue-based and utilitarian. I feel that our character as humans is what defines us and is integral to everything we do, but it is also important for us to recognize how we impact those around us with our decisions. I think it's very possible to implement different decision-making theories in our lives. In fact, I wonder if there really is anyone out there who strictly abides by one theory only... is it even possible?
Anyway, I think if I absolutely had to adhere to one theory, it would be Aristotle's golden mean. I believe character and intent are important. Though I might look like a sucker to some, I like his idea of "virtue ethics"- that the combination of people and their acts are the basis of ethics. I think that in one way or another, a person's character plays a role in their decision-making, no matter how hard they try to be unbiased (that's us, fellow journalists!), so it's extremely important to develop good character by way of the golden mean. I think this can be a solid foundation of decision making, though that's not to say other models should be used as well.
Mill's utilitarian theory also has definite merit. Many decisions we must make in life will impact a great number of people, whether we like it or not. I feel it's imperative that humans consider the impact of their decisions on those with whom they share the planet with. Obviously, in most cases, it's impossible to comprehend the full extent of the impact our decisions will have, but I say, if we have some idea of the impact of a particular decision, we should implement this theory when possible. For example, if you have the choice of purchasing a Fair Trade chocolate bar versus a Hershey bar, purchasing the Fair Trade bar will have the greatest impact on the greatest number of people- in a small way, you are perpetuating a fair wage for people who harvest the cocoa beans, which means in the long run, more people will have a better quality of life. Purchasing the Hershey bar will benefit Big Hershey, and unless you give it to a homeless person, it will only benefit you (though I think it tastes horrible). I may be sounding trite here, but it's an example, nonetheless (Also, everything traces back to chocolate.)
I mostly disagree with Kant's categorical imperative theory. It's much to black and white to be logically implemented in one's day-to-day experiences. Though it might be a good idea to consider how the world would be if everyone made the same decision you did, it's also impossible to really comprehend that effect to the full extent. It is important to consider our actions alone, but I can't grasp the fact that Kan't didn't believe in moral character and seemed to not place much emphasis on consequences. He also believed in no exceptions to his theory, ie- all decisions should be duty-based. Frankly, I don't even think it's possible for one's decisions to be entirely duty-based.
In conclusion, no ground-breaking profound postulations here. Just some scattered thoughts shot from the hip on matter.