Ethics: Modern Liberalism Essay

Submitted By kmoore10
Words: 1663
Pages: 7

Capt. Frank Furillo’s decision about the two “toughs” is a very controversial one, and there are many different ethical-theoretical perspectives that either back his decision or do not believe his decision was the right one. He basically strong arms the two men into confessing to committing the crime of rape and murder of a nun, and thus is left with a guilty conscience because while the evidence was very strong, it was only circumstantial. The first perspective is the act-utilitarian perspective, which says that we are only acting morally if the decision being made produces the same amount of happiness that any alternative decision could produce. Capt. Furillo realized that the evidence was only circumstantial, but he also realized that if the two men were released into society that they would be killed for sure because “street justice” had been sworn against them. In a move that was attempting to save the two men’s lives, he told them that they would be killed, and therefore, even though the evidence was only circumstantial and the men probably could have been acquitted, they confessed because they did not want to get killed by the angry mob. He was definitely within his bounds from an act utilitarianism perspective because he saved the men’s lives, and therefore it was the best possible outcome, because the street justice would have only left more lives lost, which is not ideal in any scenario. Even though he broke police protocol and was left with a guilty conscience, he did not break any ethical guidelines according to act- utilitarianism. Under rule-utilitarianism, people are based off of their judgments according to the moral code. That is, what we as people know to be right and wrong. Rule utilitarianism even goes so far to say that if we base all of our decisions upon our moral code, we not only are making the right decision, but also should not feel bad about the results of our decision. Based upon this, Capt. Furillo was not unethical in his decision to get the confession out of the two men. He saved their lives, and therefore was doing what he knew was right based on his moral code. Based on rule-utilitarianism, he was not acting in any sort of wrong or negligent way. In the case of Kantian Deontology, a person is judged based on the way that they act according to a specific duty that they may have. Basically, people have to act based on what is truthful, and in that regard, Furillo was not right. It could not be proven that the men were guilty (even though it was highly likely) but Furillo was only doing what he felt was right, and even though he may have been wrong according to Kant, he should not be held accountable or punished in any way. Furillo basically was using his power to protect the men, even though they may have been freed from the courts, he knew that they would face inevitable death on the streets, and therefore felt obligated to make sure that no more lives were lost. The final perspective is the prima facie deontology, which basically says that if someone has one obligation that is overridden by may more important obligation, that they are not acting an a morally wrong fashion. Capt. Furillo had an initial obligation, which was to allow the two men to walk, which is normal protocol. However, he realized the imminent danger that he would be putting the men in if he let them walk, and therefore he had a more important obligation to make sure the men were protected and no more lives were pointlessly lost. Based upon this, he was not acting in a wrong way according to Prima Facie deontology. He protected the men, doing what he felt was right, and he therefore should not have any kind of guilty conscience or anything of that sort. These different perspectives are all unique and right in their own way, and they are all pretty good rules to judge our morals and decisions by.

Question 2: Human Liberty and Human Equality

The two principles,…