July 23, 2013
The Occupy Wall Street Movement
The economic recession, which ended in 2009, revealed some major flaws in the United States economy. Major corporations took excessive risks in the name of profit maximization, which weakened the entire economic structure of the United States. This paper will examine the ethical implication of various aspects of social demonstrations referred to as the occupy Wall Street movement, which evolved from the economic crisis. A Discussion the Moral and Economic Implications The Occupy Wall Street movement began in mid-September 2011 in New York City’s Wall Street Financial district. The main issues raised by the movement were social and economic inequality, greed, and the influence of corporations on the government financial sector (David Mackenzie, 2011). The movement stands on the moral principles: it’s wrong to wreck the world, and it’s wrong to destroy the health and hopes of others. Moral principles are the principles of right and wrong that are accepted by an individual or a social group (dictionary reference, 2013). Many things influence what moral principles we accept: our early upbringing, the behavior of those around us, the explicit and implicit standards of our culture, our own experiences, and our critical reflections on those experiences (Shaw, p. 14, 2010). When a person accepts a moral principle when that principle is part of his or her personal moral code, then naturally the person believes the principle is important and well justified. When a principle is part of a person’s moral code, that person is strongly motivated toward the conduct required by the principle, and against behavior that conflicts with that principle. The person will tend to feel guilty when his or her own conduct violates that principle and to disapprove of others whose behavior conflicts with it (Shaw, p. 20, 2010). The Occupy Wall Street movement forced individuals to look at the real picture: that our economic system is immoral. There are several different theories of moral principles. Let’s examine these principles and determine which theory best applies to the movement.
Ethical Analysis of the Moral and Economic Implication
Utilitarian View Utilitarianism is the moral doctrine that we should always act to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions. To utilitarian’s the greatest happiness of all constitutes the standard that determines whether an action is right or wrong (Shaw, p. 53, 2010). After assessing the best we can the likely results of each action, not just in the short term but in the long run as well, we are to choose the course of conduct that brings about the greatest net happiness.
Kantian View Kant’s theory holds that we do not have to know anything about the likely results in order to know that it is immoral. Kant held that only when we act from duty does our action have moral worth and that good will is the only thing that is good in itself (Shaw, p. 61, 2010). For Kant, an absolute moral truth must be logically consistent, free from internal contradiction. He believed that there is just one command (imperative) that is categorical- that is necessarily binding on all rational agents, regardless of any other considerations. Kant’s categorical imperative states that an action is morally right if and only if we can will that the principle represented by our action be universal law (Shaw, p. 62-63, 2010). According to Kant, as rational creatures we should always treat other rational creatures as ends in themselves and never as only means to our ends (Shaw, p. 64, 2010).
Virtue Ethics Perspective Virtue ethics takes the notion of virtue as fundamental, and are primarily concerned with traits of character that are essential to human flourishing. It agrees with consequentialism