Moral Theory Essay Research Paper Moral TheoryRespect

Moral Theory Essay, Research Paper

Moral Theory

Respect for Persons:

The moral theory, Respect for Persons, or Ethics of Respect for Persons, core theme is that all human beings should be paid equal respect. Like the bible says in Matthew 7:12, “. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”[1]. This theory has been connected to the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. Kant divided this theory in two parts, (1) universalization principle and (2) the means-ends principle. In the universalization principle, as moral standards we will use the self-defeating test to formulate the correct outcome of the moral choice involved with a moral issue. In the means-ends principle we will consider two tests the negative test and the positive test.

Let me begin with the universalizaiton principle. This principle takes the idea that all humans beings should receive equal respect and therefore give equal respect to their fellow colleagues. In simple words this principle says to do only those things involving moral choices that can be evaluated by moral rules. For example:

Let us assume that John Smith wants to sleep with his wife’s sister. This assumption poses the following rule: Everyone should sleep with their wife’s sister.

Once the universalized rule has been stated, the second step is to try to decide whether others can follow this rule, with out us felling aggravated by it. When trying to determine this we call upon the self-defeating test. This test will post a question that we can ask to ourselves and see that if in fact we are not incommoded by the rule the universalization principle has given.

The self-defeating test will post the question: “+Can I consent others acting simultaneously according to the same rule I use without undermining my own ability to act in accordance with it?” [2]. When this question is stated the self-defeating test will give the final moral judgment on an issue, if and only if the question can be certainly consider to be accepted.

For the case stated above, you ask yourself +Can I consent others to sleep with their wife’s sister without me being incommoded by their actions? This question can be answer by the following:

1. Would you like your wife’s sister’s husband to sleep with your wife?

2. Would you like your sister’s husband to sleep your other sister?

3. Would you like your mother to sleep with your uncle?

The answer to all, or at least one, of this question will most likely be no. Therefor the rule posted by the universalization principle will not be universalized. By this we conclude that John Smith will be acting immorally, therefor the self-defeating test “fails”.

The second part of this theory is known as the means-ends principle. It emphasizes in the thought of treating every human being as an end and not simply as a mean. In other words to include someone in the end of any decision, and not simply to include him just to get to that decision.

Lets suppose that in the above case Mr. Smith does in fact answers yes to all three questions. This will then become a universalized rule and therefor it would be morally acceptable. However we will have to determine if smith is merely using his wife sister as a mean and not as an end, to finally determine if in fact this rule is morally correct. We will start with the negative test for trying to justify smith’s actions.

The negative test asks, +Does my action override my own or others’ freedom or well being? [3]. This question argues that we should never violate someone’s freedom or well being. However in some cases involving criminal aspects we do override the freedom or well being of the person. With this in mind we can argue that Mr. Smith is acting in a criminal way, if we consider he is married and adultery is consider a criminal act under the law. With this argument we conclude that Mr. Smith has forfeited his rights to be treated as and end and never as a mean.

If adultery were not a criminal action then smith would had pass the first part of the mean-end principle; therefor we would have to continue with the process of determining if this is in fact a moral action. We come now to the second test in this principle the positive test; which asks +Does the action assist oneself (or others’, in certain circumstances) in achieving one’s own (or others’) freedom or well being? [4]. Applying this to the case of John Smith we formulate the following: +Is sleeping with a sister in law assisting me only or is she being assisted as well, or am I only using her to fulfill (using her as mere means) my want to sleep with my wife’s sister? By this test the rule is violated in the way that the female is pleasing the male with little cost to her. She is not obtaining anything out of it and therefor she is being used as a mere mean. John’s point of view might be very different. He might think that she is achieving satisfaction and therefor they both would be means and ends to each other. However he would be violating her freedom to act as a moral agent, to determine by her own means if she is being satisfied or not. In this case the positive test does not fail and the rule will be overthrown, making his want immoral.

Now that we have an understanding on the ethics of respect for persons we will continue with our original case and try to determine if the decision of the manager was ethically correct or not.


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