On the opposite side of the spectrum from deontological theory is the idea of utilitarian theory, which is also known as consequentialist theory. Whereas deontological theory completely ignores the possible consequences of an ethical dilemma, utilitarian theory puts these consequences at the forefront of consideration to guide ethical decision making (McCartney & Parent, n.d.). Some proponents of utilitarian theory even go so far as to say that if a person does a bad thing for the right reasons, as long as the consequence of the action is good, then the act itself is good in an ethical sense. A subset of this theory is called Rule Utilitarianism. Rule utilitarianism asks the question, “What would happen if there was a universal rule that condones this action”? In the scenario I chose, if DUI was made legal, it would be incredibly bad. Multiple studies have unequivocally shown the dangers of drinking and driving and if it were allowed, the danger to the population would be immense. In this case, I would go with the utilitarian theory. There are no absolutes in the law and utilitarian theory allows for these shades of gray.Personal morals may conflict with professional ethics. For example, a person may be an advocate for the legalization of something, marijuana for example, but the jurisdictional laws criminalizes its’ use. As an officer, if you catch someone in possession of the drug, even though
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ETHICAL CASE STUDY7you morally see nothing wrong with the act, professional ethics tell you that you must arrest the person in violation of the law.The most obvious time in which moral judgement may guide a person in the legal profession is when the law itself is wrong. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously wrote in his “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” that an unjust law is no law at all (King, Jr, 2014). King, Jr. was commenting on his civil disobedience against racial segregation prevalent in the South at thetime. Even though King, Jr. was technically breaking the law, the law itself was so morally wrong that had a law enforcement professional chose not to arrest him for breaking it, it would be both morally and ethically correct.In this situation, had I been the law enforcement officer, I would have arrested the mayor on suspicion of DUI no matter his promises of career assistance. The reasoning comes from the question posed by rule utilitarianism on what would happen if DUI was legal. As stated, legalizing DUI would lead to chaos and the increased likelihood of instances such as this as well as more bodily injuries to innocent bystanders. On top of this, by letting one person off on DUI, you would almost feel morally beholden to letting the next person off, and the next, and so on. Even if the law was still on the books, it would nearly lose all significance in such a scenario.If I were the officer in this setting, my duty would be to arrest the mayor. The code of ethics put forth by the IACP states that a person should never let aspirations influence their judgement (International Association of Chiefs of Police, n.d.). This means that regardless of how much I want a promotion that the mayor is hinting at providing, I am ethically obligated to arrest him anyway. The same code also states that a person should “enforce the law courteously and appropriately without favor”.
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