AJS 123 – Essay 3
AJS 123 – Essay 3
Research and write an essay answering the question below. Your essay should be 2 pages (not including cover page and reference page), double-spaced, with a font size of 12 pt. Refer to the Grading Rubric PDF for essay grading standards. Submit your essay to your instructor.
If someone were to ask you, “Are you a good person?” what would you say to prove that you are? Additionally, describe an ethical dilemma (which you have faced personally or seen someone experience firsthand). After this lesson’s discussion, explain whether you would have solved this dilemma differently. Include key concepts discussed so far in this course.
Approaching the Objectives
Major Ethical Systems
When learning how to resolve ethical dilemmas, it is important to articulate a justifiable rationale for why you believe one decision seems right and another seems wrong. Having a basic understanding of the major ethical theories will help you create an ethical resolution by learning how to articulate and justify the decision.
At times, some ethical theories may seem overly philosophical for your purpose; you may even wonder why you should study theories developed centuries ago when you are dealing primarily with present-day issues. In other instances, some ethical theories may seem overbearing. The theories you examine in the lesson, however, are important to help you understand why the decisions people make are ethical or unethical.
For example, you may think a decision is unethical on the surface, but when you become aware of the philosophical system used in the decision making, you can then determine the root of the decision and, at the very least, see its intended morality. This allows you to view ethical issues from different perspectives and assists you in making informed decisions.
This lesson focuses on normative ethics and understanding the common normative ethical theories. By dissecting the normative theories of ethics, you can clearly understand the moral decisions you ought to make or the reason some people make the decisions they do. You will examine ethical theories briefly, as the focus of this lesson is contemporary ethical issues involving the criminal justice system.
Descriptions of the following ethical theories are very basic and address only the points required to apply them to a law enforcement or criminal justice context. Examples of how a theory may relate to and assist law enforcement are also included.
Normative theories tell not only what people ought to do, but also why they do things that, in some instances, may appear counterintuitive to a seemingly ethical decision. Such theories are often called ethical systems because they allow people to determine ethical actions individuals should take (Pollock, 2007). Evans and Macmillan (2014) define normative ethics as “theories of ethics that are concerned with the norms, standards, or criteria that define principles of ethical behavior” (p. 27).
The most common examples of normative ethical theories are utilitarianism, Kantian duty-based ethics (deontology), and divine command theory, which you’ll cover later in this course. Individuals use these systems to make decisions when confronted with ethical dilemmas.
Meta ethics does not address how people ought to behave; rather, meta-ethics relates more to the study of ethical theory itself. Here the interest is in evaluating moral and ethical theories and systems. For example, moral relativism is a meta-ethical theory because it interprets discussions around ethics; this question is asked within moral relativism: “Is ethics culturally relative?” Evans and Macmillan (2014) define meta-ethics as “theories of ethics concerned with the moral concepts, theories, and the meaning of moral language” (p. 27). Pollock (2007) further defines meta-ethics as “a discipline that investigates the meaning of ethical systems and whether they are relative or are universal, and are self-constructed or are independent of human creation” (p. 6).
For the purposes of this lesson, meta-ethics relate to the way you look at and understand normative ethical theories. More concisely, meta-ethics concerns the interpretation and evaluation of the language used within normative ethical theories.
Applied ethics describes how you apply normative theories to specific issues, usually related to work or belonging to an organization; for example, policies and procedures of organizations or ethical codes of outlaw bikers versus ethical codes of police officers. Evans and Macmillan (2014) define applied ethics as “theories of ethics concerned with the application of normative ethics to particular ethical issues” (p. 27). An example is knowing and practicing the code of ethics for British Columbia (BC) Corrections as an employee of BC Corrections or following the British Columbia Police Code of Ethics as a police officer. Now that you’ve completed an overview of the three categories of ethical theories, you will further analyze each ethical theory or system.
References Given in class “Use if needed”