Assessing Moral Rules: Utilitarian and Kantian Perspectives

free essayEthics is a very relative phenomenon since it depends on different common views on what amounts to good conduct or else. However, what is constant is the fact that ethics entails adhering to moral principles that guide one’s conduct in different contexts. Moreover, it is the demand of ethics that an action can only be termed ethical if it has positive aspects that supersede its negative impact (Fluehr-Lobban, 133). Besides, ethics is also weighed in terms of the societal context where it is asserted that an ethical conduct should be judged as good not only at a personal level but also within the society where the concerned individual lives. Therefore, the basic parameters utilized while evaluating whether an action is ethical or not is the intent and consequence. The intention of a person committed to do an action plays a critical role since it forms the basis for the potential implications that emanate from one’s actions.

A moral and ethical action is the one that guarantees better eventuality. This is a demand that the Black Lives Matter movement intends to meet particularly when it comes to guaranteeing a better future for the young black people. According to Utilitarianism model, an ethical and moral action is the one that helps meet an eventuality making people happier (MacKinnon & Andrew, 50). Similarly, in the context of the Black Lives Matters movement, the key intention is to secure the lives of the black people so that the young black men feel safer in the streets (“Black Lives Matters Activists Outline Policy Goals”). This will be the case when they will not be unfairly targeted by the police force where the current norm is the use of lethal force that sometimes results in deaths. On the other hand, in the context of the Kant’s theory, an ethical action is the one that upholds the interest of the self and others or vice versa (Timmons, 32). This is a trait of the Black Lives Matter movement where one of the demands is to establish a community oversight committee which is neutral in deciding whether excessive force has been used or not (“Black Lives Matters Activists Outline Policy Goals”). This demand is aimed at removing this role from being undertaken by the police departments alone. According to the movement, the police department is usually an interested party and thus cannot maintain the needed level of impartiality. This demand is aimed at ensuring that when a question of excessive use of force is raised all parties involved are given a fair judgment. This is an eventuality that will be in line with Kant’s theory demanding that an ethical action is the one that sees all individuals involved as “end” and not as “means” to end (Timmons, 42). In this case, the community oversight committee will be better placed in meeting this demand rather than the police themselves.

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An ethical action or issue is the one that instills hope by being fair to all. According to Kant’s theory, ethical actions are ascribed to principles that apply to all (MacKinnon & Andrew, 33). In the same line of thought, if most of the agitations by the Black Lives Matters movement are adopted, they can bring about an eventuality where there will be certain standards on how to report cases of excessive force. Moreover, the movement also demands an independent body to be established in order to investigate and charge police misconduct to name but a few (“Black Lives Matters Activists Outline Policy Goals”). All these demands are aimed at ensuring that questions raised by the victims of the excessive police force are given an opportunity for their grievances to be listened to by a neutral party. At the same time, the defendant will also be given a chance to express his/her views on the matter to the same impartial body. It is thus clear that the aim of the movement is to bring about an eventuality according to which the interests of the police officers and the victims of brutal force will be satisfied in an objective manner. This is critical in ensuring that both parties involved in the litigation are confident of getting a fair trial. It is this sense that will be brought by the demands of the movement that fully ascribe to the traits of shared principles as articulated in Kant’s moral theory, which makes the intentions of the movement qualify as ethical.

An ethical action is the one that protects the vulnerable members of the society. According to the utilitarian approach, an ethical action guarantees the welfare of the weak in the society (MacKinnon & Andrew, 54). Moreover, there is also an assertion that an ethical action is the one that takes care of the vulnerable in the society (repetition). Coincidentally, the Black Lives Matters movement aims at meeting the above demand where the primary aim is to offer the vulnerable black community some protection from the extreme force experienced by them mostly on behalf of white police officers (“Black Lives Matters Activists Outline Policy Goals”). The movement agitates for more serious training of the police officers on how to deal with unruly lawbreakers without resorting to excessive force. Moreover, there is also a suggestion that the police end up using the military arms that result in unnecessary deaths. All these demands are aimed at ensuring that cases of unnecessary deaths across the black community because of the police brutality are minimized if not eliminated. If these demands are to be adopted by the relevant authority, they would provide a safe net for the black community; a phenomenon coherent with the demands of utilitarian ethical approach.

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An ethical action is centered upon the common good for all the people in the society. The agitation in the utilitarian school of thought is that ethical actions are consistent with the demands of the people’s will (MacKinnon & Andrew, 60). This means that for an action to qualify as ethical, it must protect the interests of those affected. The regulations that are being agitated by the Black Lives Matters movement aim at protecting both the black community and the police officers (“Black Lives Matters Activists Outline Policy Goals”). In relation to the black community, the movement aims at realizing the change that will see the police officers get involved in the affairs of their community in a respectable manner where dignity is upheld. Moreover, in relation to the police officers, additional training will see them improve their skills. Besides, the movement calls for the formation of an independent investigative body that will also help in ensuring that their rights are upheld when they are sued. All these actions by the movement are aimed at bringing about an eventuality where the common good and the interests of these two parties will be better placed compared to the current situation. In the context of Kant’s theory, the element of common good is agitated due to the belief that people have a right to dignity (Timmons, 46). In the same line of thought, protection of the interests of the police officers and those of the black community is aimed at protecting their dignity. In regard to the police officers, this will be expressed in the form of evidence from their body camera that is agitated by the movement and will prevent the officers from malicious acquisitions. On the other hand, the lack of excessive force will also ensure no life is lost unnecessarily.

An ethical action brings about stability where cohesion among the people is enhanced. According to Kant’s theory, an ethical deed is the one that conforms to rationality, free will and the need to promote equality (Timmons, 53). All of these traits end up bringing stability since choices followed are those that promote unity. In the context of the Black Lives Matters movement, all of its demands are aimed at ensuring that the existing mistrust between the police force and black community is eliminated. This will lead to reduced tension in the community, and both the black community and the police officers will coexist peacefully thus bringing about the much-needed stability. Moreover, the proposals of the movement if implemented will bring about the sense of justice also agitated by Kant’s theory. This will avail a critical addition to the relationship between the police and the black community thus bringing about cohesion and stability. Moreover, cohesion will also be generated by these parties through their members being monitored by the community oversight committee. The committee’s objectivity and impartiality will ensure that all cases involving police brutality are handled diligently thus satisfying all parties. Over and above, the movement provides a platform where the black community and other marginalized communities can express their grievances in a manner that adheres to the state’s rules and regulations.

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Strength and Weaknesses of the Above Reasoning

The main strength of the above arguments is that they conform to the ideologies from two contradicting theories when it comes to the ethical matters that are reflected in the utilitarian and the Kantian approach. This is a trait that makes the argument unbiased and above all more detailed. Besides, there is a correlational approach utilized throughout the reasoning where the ethical nature of demands of the Black Lives Matters movement is correlated with the assertions in both Kant’s theory and the utilitarian approach. This is critical in guaranteeing both the accuracy and relevance of the reasoning. However, referencing these two theories presents a challenge whereby in some instances, their approach to ethics is conflicting. For example, this is the case when it comes to the idea of happiness being a measure of ethics. According to the utilitarian approach, there is an assertion that an ethical action is the one that ensures people have a joyful end that is, an action that brings more joy than sorrow. However, according to Kant’s theory, there is the demand for the need to ensure that this happiness is not attained at the expense of others (Timmons, 44). It is these conflicting ideologies between these principle theories utilized in the reasoning that bring about the element of ambiguity. However, as every argument is accompanied by an example in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement explaining how their action and demands conform to the ideologies of ethics, it is clear that the reasoning demonstrated above has both the depth and scope. It is thus well placed to argue that the strength of the reasoning utilized above outdoes the weakness.

It is thus clear that the demands and intentions of the Black Lives Matters movement aim at bringing cohesion and safeguard the interests of both the police and the black community and all these are the elements leading to a better future for all. However, a word of caution in regard to the movement is not to allow anti-police sentiments witnessed lately to be used by people purporting to be their members since this will bring about an element of prejudice that highly contradicts the ideology of ethics. This is an appreciation of Kant’s demand that an ethical action is the one that does not bring about the desired change at the expense of others (Fluehr-Lobban, 141). Thus, there is a need to ensure that its stipulated demands and agitations form its only ideology since this will give room for the attainment of an eventuality suggesting a mutual respect between the police officers and the black community.

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Conclusion

It is clear that ethics forms the general principles that ensure that people’s actions result in better results for the self and others. Moreover, ethical or moral actions are the ones aimed at bringing about the greater good for all members of the society where each and every interest is safeguarded. Ethical behavior also provides a platform where cohesion among people is enhanced through mutual respect. Based on these parameters that form the backbone of ethics as stipulated by utilitarian demands and Kant’s moral theory, the Black Lives Matters movement is an ethical group that is championing change, which will enhance equality and stability within the black community. Moreover, through its demand for the formation of an impartial body to act as a mediator in the cases of police brutality, all the interested parties will be given justice, and this will be helpful in improving the relationships between the police and the black community. Besides, the agitation for more training will lead to the officers being better skilled in handling professional challenges differently. It is thus clear from the correlation analysis that the Black Lives Matters movement actually follows ethical norms and is aimed at upholding ethics as it tries to solve the challenge of the use of excessive force by police, particularly towards the black community.

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