4 pages/≈2200 words
conflict Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) law enforcement (Term Paper Sample)
conflict Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) law enforcement source..
Michael Halperin Professor Name Class Name 11 October 2018 The protesters involved in the jamming incident around a conflict Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) law enforcement have no ethical justification for their actions. Protesters sought retribution against an institution that they subjectively deemed as unjust, and in the process could potentially cause issues that would endanger the safety of other citizens. This, coupled with the fact that their tampering with mobile devices to interfere with BART equipment and logistical processes represents a crime in itself: they are infringing upon the public services and instruments provided by the state. Aside from this intuitive interpretation, in both Utilitarian and Kantian terms, the actions of the protesters are unjustifiable. Kantian ethics and the universality test deem the actions of the protesters unethical or wrong, as their reasons to destroy or interfere with state systems based on an alleged abuse of civil rights would destabilize any political structure at a macroscopic level (i.e. if everyone rebelled at any alleged violation of civil rights). Utilitarian ideals would further refute the protesters actions, as their mobile attacks are directly lowering the happiness of “utility” of a large group of people through endangerment of safety or interference with services, without any overall goal to maximize the greater good in the future. In fact, it may even be argued that restricting civil rights in the name of safety and stability for a large number of people in a state maximizes utility in comparison to a state where no rights are forfeited. Kantian and Utilitarian ethics denounce the destabilizing social and political effects of rebellion without a true, widespread violation of civil liberties to merit such a rebellion. Primarily, let us examine this issue through a Kantian perspective. To do this, we must establish and explain the Kantian conception of ethics. Kant defines the starting point of his system of ethics through the concept of a good will: “There is nothing it is possible to think of anywhere in the world, or indeed anything at all outside it, that can be held to be good without limitation, excepting only a good will” (Kant 9). This gives us a preliminary basis upon how to judge one’s intent as desirable or undesirable, we observe this good will in actions and evaluate that action accordingly. It is important to recognize that Kant distinguishes this good will as a quality that belongs inherently to an action, and is separate from the consequences of that action: “The good will is good not through what it effects or accomplishes, not through its efficacy for attaining any intended end, but only through its willing, i.e., good in itself, and considered for itself, without comparison…” (Kant 10). In this, Kant rejects consequentialism, one of the key components of Utilitarian philosophy, which hinges on the maximizing utility through the results of an action. From here, the question for us then becomes, how do we determine the quality of whether something is good or bad? How do we judge this inherent quality of intent? In his ethical considerations, Kant introduces the concept of duty: “…in the naturally healthy understanding, which does not need to be taught but rather only to be enlightened, we will put ourselves before the concept of duty, which contains that of a good will” (Kant 13). Kant hits at the concept of duty as something we ought to do and know we ought to do from an intuitive standpoint, he ignores actions that are contrary to duty and in conformity with duty, choosing to analyze the cases where one’s expected duties are more questionable. It is the case regarding whether an action is done from duty, which is different from something that is in conformity with duty because of the latter’s immediacy (i.e. duty to defend one’s one life from danger). Establishing these actions as the one he wants to analyze, Kant begins to lay the foundation for his moral system, the categorical imperative. Moving on, Kant’s categorical imperative essentially describes actions that are necessary and which are aimed towards a need. Kant defines these words more strictly: “The categorical imperative would be the one which represented an action as objectively necessary for itself, without any reference to another end…” (Kant 31). Note that this definition of a specific action echoes the characteristics of the good will that we have described above. Having set this framework for morality, Kant finally elaborates on how to distinguish actions that are good from those that are not: “The categorical imperative is thus only a single one, and specifically this: Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law” (Kant 37). This is the famous universality test that is applied to actions to determine whether or not they have a “good will” or not. You should only act in such a way that if your action were to dictate the behavior of others – if your action were to become a universal law of nature - it would be desirable for the rest of the world. This has obvious implications on certain actions that were previously ambiguous, and Kant gives a few examples: “For the universality of a law that everyone who believes himself to be in distress could promise… as a vain pretense” (Kant 39). The universality test is a moral litmus test for what is acceptable. Let us then, apply the universality test to the actions of the protesters and the response of the BART enforcement officers to determine who possess good will. The protesters acted in retribution to shut down the subway station during one incident, and threatened to use mobile and other communicative technology to interfere with BART equipment vital to the proper functioning of the subway. Intuitively, an action done out of retribution neither one that is done out of duty or one that represents a need. Retribution in this case implies a premeditated offense against another. This is clearly the case as well, as the technology jamming required to interfere with or shut down public services requires preparation, as well as the action of a threat. In any case, consider the general situation at hand: demonstrators disrupt government services in retribution over a shaky, baseless civil rights violation that might not have happened. Imagining this as a law, it would be acceptable for citizens to stage protests that interfered with government services whenever they felt dissatisfied. This would be disastrous for safety and political stability and would through any regime into a state of chaos due to the incessant demonstrations and disruptions in government services. On the part of the BART enforcement officers, they acted out of duty, to protect the citizens and keep the safe under potentially dangerous conditions. This represents and action done in conformity with duty and thus one with good will. Moreover, let us consider John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian stance on the subject. Utilitarianism specifies happiness as the highest value or virtue to be sought after, and actions that maximize happiness are in fact maximizing goodness. As Mill explains: “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Great Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Page #). It has already been clearly set out what types of actions are ethical and which types are not. Utilitarianism, then, begins to primarily concern itself with what the nature of pleasure is, as pleasure or happiness is the final dictator of what makes an action desirable. Delineations of pleasures and ways to quantify pleasure are suggested: “Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure” (Mill #). In other words, Mill believes that the degree to which a pleasure is intuitively obvio...
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