Personal Moral Theory
In my personal ethical theory, I base it off of the utilitarian approach and Kant’s ethics. “The utilitarian view is that principle requires us, in all circumstances, to “maximize happiness”—in other words, to produce the greatest total balance of happiness over unhappiness, or of pleasure over suffering” (Rachels, 2020). Although we want to maximize happiness should be moral rules such as honesty, trust, and gaining your happiness by not using malicious ways. We all want to reduce suffering, but we shouldn’t make others suffer for our own gain. I believe the utilitarian has a great approach but there are moral limits that should not be crossed. Kant’s ethics provide some limitation to our own moral gain. “Kant characterized the Categorical Imperative as an objective, rationally necessary and unconditional principle that we must always follow despite any natural desires or inclinations we may have to the contrary” (Johnson, 2019). This meaning that we should respect humanity and that we should all act according to the rules that we hold for everyone. Such as lying, stealing, or cheating is viewed as immoral so we should hold everyone to the same standard that we hold ourselves. This gives limitation to the utilitarian approach that could possibly lead to disaster. When using these two together we can maximize happiness for everyone but still maintain a balance without being immoral. Without conducting a moral code everyone who use each other for personal gain and become deceitful. This would fuel hate and untrustworthiness in the world which would ultimately be a disaster. So, by Kant’s categoric imperative we can see that by adding moral conducts we would see happiness.
In Jane Doe’s case she is being deceitful to the teacher by copying work done by other students. This is using his kindness of not using turn it in and abusing the system for personal gain. She copied work and paid other people to write her papers as well as self-plagiarized. She feels morally justified because her economic situation requires her to work more and not give enough time for school. Other students in her same situation manage to give a fair amount of time to school. She also states that her religion approves of her action since this will benefit her whole family by earning a degree. She notices that other students’ religions forbid such acts. This is immoral when I compare it with my own moral philosophy. She is intentionally taking advantage of the teacher’s kindness. He does not use the turn it in method or deducts points when she “accidentally” submitted a blank paper. This is lying when she gives in a blank paper intentionally to give herself time to do and turn in the correct paper. Which when looking at the utilitarian and Kant ethics is immoral. We want to maximize our happiness which she can do but taking advantage of people is a line that the Kant’s categorical imperative cannot cross. She is also using excuses to justify her actions which I think is immoral in itself. She wants to say her socioeconomic status doesn’t allow her to have enough time to study because she has to work but, she pays for people to write her paper. Her fellow classmates do what she does and has enough time to do their own work which makes her excuse eliminated. Which in terms is not fair to her other students that she makes the same grades with little effort put in. I believe plagiarism is a pretty big ethical transgression as well as using other people to get what you want. Technically this is lying, cheating, and using other people to your advantage and that is immoral. It is essentially hurting others for personal gain and I believe that is one of the most immoral things a person can do.
Social Action and Solution
If Jane were to get caught in the matter of the immoral things she did as well as use the excuses, her fate would look at the different ethical beliefs. Looking at the utilitarianism she is maximizing happiness for herself but causing suffering for others, such as them having to put in more work while still obtaining the same grades. This therefore contraindicated the utilitarian belief of maximizing happiness. “The “veil of ignorance” is a moral reasoning device designed to promote impartial decision making by denying decision makers access to potentially biasing information about who will benefit most or least from the available options” (Huang, 2019). By using this method, we can take out her religious beliefs and socioeconomic status. This leaves her with no excuses of why she acted upon these immoral values. A deontological principle can be seen such as the divine command theory. “Actions that God commands us to do are morally required; actions that God forbids us to do are morally wrong; and all other actions are morally neutral” (Rachels, 2019). God does not condone lying, cheating, or harming others in any way. I don’t know of a religion that condones cheating or using others for personal gain. John Rawls was an American philosopher who introduced the theory of justice as fairness. “His theory of justice as fairness describes a society of free citizens holding equal basic rights and cooperating within an egalitarian economic system” (Wenar, 2017). This meaning that everyone is treated fair and there is no discrimination. If someone were to do an immoral act against their basic rights of their economic system, then they shall have consequences. Therefore, Jane Doe should have consequences to her immoral actions. Whether it be to have her retake the entire class or maybe just redo all her assignments that were plagiarized. If her actions go unpunished, she may graduate but she will have immoral values that may catch up to her after repeatedly doing things. For instance, if she takes credit for someone else’s work again it may get her fired and a bad reputation. Which could ultimately lead to her not being able to get a job she went to school for.
Huang, K., Greene, J., Bazerman. M., (November 26, 2019). Veil-of-ignorance reasoning favors the greater good. Retrieved June 24, 2020. From: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/48/23989
Johnson, Robert and Cureton, Adam, “Kant’s Moral Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2019/entries/kant-moral/>.
Rachels, J. (2019). The Elements of Moral Philosophy (9th ed.). New York: NY, McGraw Hill Education.
Wenar, Leif, “John Rawls”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2017/entries/rawls/>.