Difference Between Deontology and Teleology (With Table)

Deontology and Teleology are both terms used in philosophy. The word Deontology is derived from Greek. It is made from the words deon, which means duty and logos, which stands for study or science. Thus, Deontology is the study of duty. It is a part of a philosophy that covers ethics and explains aspects such as what is forbidden and what is permitted.

Teleology, on the other hand, is made from words telos, which stands for purpose or result and logos, which means study or science. Thus, Teleology is the study of end goals and results. It is focused on the purpose instead of the causes by which those purposes originate.  There are debates about whether nature has teleology or not. Some believe that there are beings that survive without any purpose.

Both the branches of philosophy lay emphasis on different aspects. One is more goal-oriented, while others focus on making sure righteous actions are taken to get results.

Deontology vs Teleology

The main difference between Deontology and Teleology is that the focus of both is different. Deontology focuses on the means, and teleology focuses on the results. One is duty-oriented, whereas the other is purpose-oriented.


Comparison Table Between Deontology and Teleology (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of Comparison




It is the branch of philosophy that studies on morality and defines what is right and wrong.

It is the branch of philosophy that studies the results or the purpose and questions its existence.


It is focused on how a goal is achieved and classifying whether the means are righteous.

It is focused on the justification of the means by relating it to the end.


Its foundation belief is that what you do others comes back to you.

Its foundation belief is that any means is justified if it produces happiness and negligible pain.


It focuses on teaching moral values and righteousness.

It focuses on the fact that if the end goal is achieved, all the means are righteous.


It pays more attention to the values of each individual.

It pays more attention to studying past events and predicts future results.


What is Deontology

Deontology is derived from two Greek words namely Deon and logos. It is the study of duty. It studies the means to achieve a goal and then justifies whether they are righteous or not. It is the branch of philosophy that deals with moral values and teaching what is forbidden and what is permitted.

It is the study of right action. It says that end does not justify the means and is based on the rule that whatever you do to others comes back to you completing a full circle. There are two diversifications of Deontological theories.

One is agent-centered. It suggests that there is an agent as the reason for every action taken by use. Second is victim-centered. It is also called the patient-centered theory. It is focused on using the rights of someone else without their consent but to produce functional consequences.

Immanuel Kant is a central figure of deontological theories. These theories enable a more general identification of what is right and what is wrong. It also has the potential to give an explanation for why some people are considered more morally stable than others and what triggers specific actions in people. These theories also have some disadvantages. These, at times, tend to be irrational and becomes paradoxical.


What is Teleology?

Teleology is the study of finality. It is also referred to as consequentialist theories. It tends to lay more emphasis on the results or goals and then tries to justify the means based on the results.

One of the most common examples of Teleology was given by Aristotle. He said that an acorn’s internal telos is to become a grown oak tree. Now to reach the end goal, it might take resort of any means that justify its end.

These theories originated in the writings of Aristotle and Plato. Plato explained that natural teleology is the only way to justify the natural physical phenomenon.

Teleology plays a significant role in describing the business and medical ethics in the modern world. For example, the management by objective is a theory based on the Teleology theory. In medicine, people are generally focused on the outcome as well; thus, teleology becomes its foundation as well. There are three types of Teleological ethics: ethical Egoism, Utilitarianism, and Eudemonism.

In simple words, Teleology is more focused on the consequences of actions. It also tries to work on the principle of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain.

J Benthem and JS Mill are the central figures in teleological theories.  

Main Differences Between Deontology and Teleology

  1. Deontology is the study of ethics or duty. On the other hand, Teleology is the study of finality or end goals.
  2. Deontology is more teaches and gives clarity about what is wrong and what is right, whereas teleology lays emphasis on the goal and declaring all means righteous if they yield output.
  3. Deontology is based on the rule that what goes around comes around, whereas teleology is based on the belief that any action that produces happiness with negligible pain is justified.
  4. Deontology is focused on the means, whereas teleology is focused on the results.
  5. Deontology is focused on studying individual values. In contrast, teleology is focused on studying past events that created results.



Both Deontology and teleology are branches of philosophy justifying different things. Deontology lays more emphasis on preaching about moral values and teaching what is right and wrong. It defines what is permitted or forbidden based on its consequences. It does not let the end justify the means.

Whereas teleology lets end justifies means because it is the study of finality. Deontology is the study of duty. It is more duty-oriented, whereas teleology is more result-oriented.

Deontology focuses on teaching fair means to achieve results and practicing actions that do not cause harm to others. On the other hand, teleology focuses on receiving the desired result through any means.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296396001439
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2020659