1. What is the ethical issue or problem? Identify the issue succinctly. The moral agent of the story is about an intoxicated husband who the officers assume was driving and also a domestic violence call. The main issue is that the officers decided to give the husband a sobriety test and that was not supposed to happen since they didn’t see him driving the vehicle. 2. What are the most important facts? Which facts have the most bearing on the ethical decision presented? Include any important potential economic, social, or political pressures, and exclude inconsequential facts. The officers gave the husband a sobriety test, they also gave the husband a preliminary alcohol-screening device reveals that the husband’s blood alcohol level is .20. This is something that it will not hold in court because the husband was not driving the vehicle at the time of the test. This is something that will be used against the officers for the husband’s rights. 3. Identify each claimant (key actor) who has an interest in the outcome of this ethical issue. From the perspective of the moral agent—the individual contemplating an ethical course of action—what obligation is owed to the claimant? Why? Claimant
(owed to the claimant)
Perspective (What does the claimant hope will happen?)
The police officers would hope that by them administering the test that they will prosecute the husband. The officers have an obligation to make sure that there is no violence going on and they should leave ones they find out that everything is ok. Husband and Wife
The clients would prefer that the officers would just leave their home and not do anything about the intoxicated husband. The wife needs to prove that she is ok and the husband needs to make sure he doesn’t drive the vehicle. Other police officers
Good police officers notice what they notice but they also have to realize that under their jurisdiction there is nothing they can do to the husband. Marginal officers might try to do something about what they encountered but it wouldn’t work since they didn’t see him driving. Prosecutors, judges
Prosecutors and judges may prefer that the moral agent does nothing, as a more competent officer may make their job more difficult with wasting their time. Some prosecutors and judges may prefer that the incompetent officers go back to training and learn the rights that citizens have and learn the rights under the jurisdiction and by them doing so it will avoid reversals on appeals due to their incompetence. Society
The advocates of law and order may prefer that the moral agent does nothing; they might suggest them to go back to training. Advocates of individual rights would prefer that the incompetent officer’s behavior was corrected and maybe prevent them from working.
4. What are two alternatives for the scenario? One alternative can be a wild card that you ordinarily may not consider because of potential implications. Both should be within free will and control of the same moral agent.
The officers should go back to training academy and learn the rights of the jurisdiction and learn the rights of the citizens. File an official report with the agency that is responsible for appointing the officers that might not be ready to be out there. 5. Respond to the following questions based on your developed alternatives.
What are the best- and worst-case scenarios if you choose this alternative? Best case: The police officers accept more training and they learn all the right they should and make their jobs a lot easier.
Worst case: The officer’s decline going back to training and their incompetent behavior continue. Best case: Their behaviors are corrected, or they are removed from the job.
Worst case: Little action is taken by the agency and the behavior continues. The moral agent is then ignored about the situation and it continues. Will anyone be harmed if this alternative is chosen? If so, how will they be harmed? Consider families and derivative effects. The moral agent may be harmed by him going to jail for something that he might have done or not done. The moral agent may be harmed by having a DUI in his record and he wasn’t even driving when the incident occurred. The officers might be harmed by getting removed from their jobs and they might not have other opportunities to generate revenue. If they have a family, the family could be harmed as a result of the loss of income. The moral agent’s reputation may be harmed by the negative label if they decide to pursue other jobs in law enforcement. Would honoring any idea or value—such as personal, professional, or religious—make the alternative invalid? NO.
The value of loyalty to the officers might be in question.
Are there any rules, laws, or principles that support the alternative? Are there rules, laws, or principles that make the alternative invalid? State the rule or principle and indicate if it invalidates or supports the alternative. They have a jurisdiction that they need to follow and if not followed then they have no case against the husband. So in other words they should get more training. This ethical rule supports the alternative. The officers should seek more training so that they can learn more about rights and learn more about jurisdiction.
Applying Ethical Guidelines
6.Consider each ethical guideline and explain whether it would support or reject your alternative. Guidelines based on the action itself
Should this alternative become a rule or policy that everyone in this situation should follow in similar situations in the future? (Kant) Yes
Does this alternative result in using any person as a means to an end without consideration for his or her basic integrity? (Kant) No
Is the intent of this action free from vested interest or ulterior motive? (Kant’s good will) Yes
Does this alternative demonstrate a genuine concern for others affected by the decision, and is the moral agency responding to a perceived need? Yes: concern for others and responding to a perceived need are implicated Yes: concern for others and responding to a perceived need are implicated Guidelines based on consequences
Is the good brought about by this alternative outweighed by the potential harm that might be done to others? (Mill’s harm principle) Possibly
Is any harm brought about by anyone other than the moral agent? (causal harm) No
Yes: the decision of panel
Will anyone be harmed who can be said to be defenseless? (paternalism) Maybe: the moral agent’s family
Maybe: incompetent officer’s family
To what degree is this alternative based on the moral agent’s own best interest? (ethical egoism) Not based on the moral agent’s own interests;
Not based on the moral agent’s own interests; based on the best interests of the officers agency. Which alternative will generate the greatest benefit—or the least amount of harm—for the greatest number of people? Select only one alternative. (utilitarianism)
Alternative B will generate the greatest benefit, which is training.
Ethical Decision Making
6. Choose to proceed with either Alternative A or Alternative B and explain the reasons for your decision. I recommend that the moral agent would be to send them back to training and this would help correct their behavior. These people would have been ok if the officers knew the law and they would have been more with the people instead of just looking into arresting someone. It would not necessitate extra work hours for the moral agent, which may negatively affect the moral agent’s family. If the behavior continues, then the moral agent could follow up by reporting the behavior to the officer’s agency. I think that if they are going to be out there they need to know the law because if they don’t then there are consequences for their actions.