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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Moral Imperatives of Beer at the Sergeant's House

The Moral Imperatives of Beer at the Sergeant's House
In a career defined by the constant need to make moral decisions, a policeman my find the the hardest decisions he makes are not the life and death decisions of whether to confront armed robbers versus seeking personal safety, or even the easy to define moral question of whether to accept a bribe, but rather the day to day moral questions of dealing with friends and family. In the case of an officer witnessing a supervisor commit misdemeanors involving the supervisor's family, the officer must choose between a number of moral options. In this case, as an officer, I witnessed my sergeant commit thee misdemeanor offenses:
1- He provided tobacco products to his underage daughter
2- He provided alcohol to his underage daughter
3- He provided alcohol to an underage female not related to him.
Before I make my decision as to how to respond to the situation, I must examine the following options in terms of what best serves everyone involved (using utilitarian premises) and in terms of doing my duty (using deontological philosophy). I have the following options. First, I can do nothing and hope that nothing comes of the situation, or I can do nothing with the viewpoint that these are mala prohibita crimes to which I am opposed to enforcing in the first place, or I can do nothing in the view that my sergeant is exercising his right as a parent. Secondly, I could confront my sergeant and ask him to explain the social norms of the situation, or I could confront my sergeant and attempt to persuade him to stop committing these crimes, or I could arrest him in the commission of these crimes. I could also report him to IAD in the hopes of advancing my career, or I could report the sergeant to IAD in the attempt to maintain our image as a department with integrity. I also have options I need to consider in the issue of the daughter's friend, as she is not his family member and I do not know if her parents approve of her drinking at the sergeant’s house.
I will start by considering the underlying considerations according to Bentham's hedonistic calculus, or how he measures the value of pleasure or pain to everyone involved (Bentham, 1781, Chapter 4). First I stipulate that I consider the sergeant to be both trustworthy and competent, else I would not be socializing with him. Therefore I must consider that the loss of his services to the department would be painful to the department. I must consider as to whether the other policemen involved would consider me as trustworthy if I break the expected behavior of a fellow officer, which would be a painful consequence for me. There is furthermore an issue of the trust the community has in the department, and how this incident could affect that trust, as losing that trust would be painful for both the community and for the department. I must consider the harm done to the community by the sergeant’s actions, to which I have already concluded that in the case of his daughter have no harmful affect. However, this does lead to the issue of the daughter's friend, and the potential of harm that may befall her from the sergeant's actions. In each of these questions, I must answer for how each is severe the consequences, how long the effects would be (the duration), how many people would be affected (the extent), and how certain would the effect be.
Next, I must consider the issue from the perspective of my duty. Kant proposes the study of duty as deontology. Kant contradicts utilitarian theory with the accusation that those theorists ignored the concept of duty. He thought that “the key to morality is human will or intention, not consequences.”(Braswell, McCarthy, and McCarthy,2010, p.16) Kant also proposed that there were “categorical imperative”, moral directives to be followed at all times. One of Kant's “categorical imperatives” is “universalizability”. “The basic idea of universalizability is that for my action to be morally justifiable, I must be able to will that anyone in relevantly similar circumstances act in the same way.”(Braswell, McCarthy, and McCarthy,2010, p.17) A second “categorical imperative” is “the fact that human beings have intrinsic value” (Braswell, McCarthy, and McCarthy,2010, p.18) However, Kant is wrong in almost every facet. He contradicts himself with the concept of “universalizability “ with the caveat that circumstances be “relevantly similar”; to judge “relevant” circumstances is to open the floor to double standard and hypocrisy. The idea that ALL humans have intrinsic value is simply wrong, The only value that tyrants and murderers have is negative. When Kant sets his key position on the basis of “good intentions”, he may as well label his philosophy as “the road to hell”.Good intentions are unmeasurable things, while dead bodies resulting from good intentions are quite measurable. Finally, and most importantly, his accusation that utilitarian theorists ignored duty as a consideration does not take into accounts that the failure to perform duty is an act, an act which has consequences and can be measured through the hedonistic calculus. Having said that, we must measure the act of doing one's duty or not doing so through utilitarian premises.
In the case of my sergeant, I have decided to take the following actions; I will question him on the spot regarding the daughter's friend, especially as to the question as to whether her parents are aware of the drinking at the sergeant's house, and I will ignore the other two crimes as I feel that the crimes do no harm to society, and I feel that the negative, or painful results that may occur far outweigh the good to the community. If the sergeant informs me that the friend's parents are aware of her activity, then I will ignore that activity as well. If he tells me otherwise, I will leave the social event, in the hopes that the loss of my trust will have painful consequences for the sergeant that he will attempt to rectify in the future. I will also be prepared to come forward if something serious happens to the daughter's friend. I understand that I am not doing my duty as far as Kant would consider it, but I feel that I am doing my duty as I understand it.

Bentham, J. (1781). An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Retreived May 18, 2014 from http://www.utilitarianism.com/jeremy-bentham/index.html#four

Braswell, M., McCarthy, B., & . McCarthy, B Justice, Crime, and Ethics. 7th Edition. Anderson, 2010. VitalBook file. South University.

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