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Family protection dogs ireland | ireland police dogs
A man in his early 60s came to the office in his local police station to compln about a woman he’d just been dating. He told us he’d just returned from a weekend away with her and that when he returned he found the apartment they shared had been searched.
He told us he felt betrayed and was angry at the fact he’d been used by a woman he’d thought he could trust and was looking for someone to help him find out if there was more to it than what he’d initially thought.
A few months later, the same guy called me with another complnt. He sd he’d been having an argument with his girlfriend over her refusal to stop seeing a girl she’d met at a local dance class.
I found the woman at home and, when I mentioned the dance instructor, she became angry and abusive, shouting and swearing. As soon as I showed the girlfriend her diary in which she’d admitted to the affr, she realised the problem and apologised.
The girl, meanwhile, was called by a friend and told that the girlfriend she had been sleeping with wasn’t just a friend of the girl’s at all – they were in a relationship. The friend then told the girl she’d only slept with the girlfriend to get back at the girlfriend’s boyfriend and that she hated the girlfriend, blaming her for things in her life.
The girl was devastated, not least because she realised that she was no longer loved by the person she believed was her closest friend and because, thanks to the woman she now realised was an unrepentant adulterer, she’d now lost her job at a high-profile fashion company.
I was impressed by the woman I’d just talked to, because in both cases she had used her trning to help the people she’d hurt and had taken responsibility for her actions. But her behaviour had been so reprehensible that it would be easy to wonder what’s wrong with us.
What kind of moral person doesn’t want to prevent others from hurting themselves? It would be great to believe that most of us are just concerned about our own lives and those of our friends and loved ones. But the truth is that one person’s selfishness can hurt other people – and that should be our concern.
My friend once suggested that, in the modern world, it’s not an excuse to act wrongly that others may suffer.
‘In other circumstances,’ he sd, ‘if a young boy gets hit on the head and forgets everything he does – he forgets his parents, he forgets his past, he forgets his friends and he forgets he has a mother and a father – that’s because the blow to his head has damaged his brn and he’s incapable of putting it all together. His behaviour makes sense and so we accept it.’
So, the moral person who’s concerned for others mustn’t only be concerned about them: he must try to prevent them from suffering as a result of other people’s immoral behaviour.
For if I’m willing to bear the consequences of my own foolishness, others ought to be willing to bear the consequences of their foolishness. If someone’s been so careless that they’ve hurt others, then it’s my moral duty to help them. And, if they continue to hurt others, I’ve a duty to report them to the police.
In a perfect world, nobody ever acts badly. So, for the moral person, there’s a duty to prevent people from acting badly.
In the next lecture, I’ll tell you what the ‘duties’ you must perform towards others, if you want to be ‘moral’, are.
3 Responses to “The Duties of Morality”
Your friend is in the first camp, which you correctly identify as the “utilitarian” camp. I think you’re right to make a distinction between this view and the third camp of “deontological” ethics.
I think your friend (and many people from his camp) is mistaken in identifying “consequentialism” with “utilitarianism.” There are forms of consequentialism which are far more deontological, and which reject the idea that we ought to act to maximize the happiness of others. But none of the forms of consequentialism in the current orthodoxy are what your friend is thinking of.
On the other hand, your friend’s view is not as bizarre as you think. You can easily imagine people who think that we ought to sacrifice our own happiness for the sake of others. The more pressing the danger that others might be harmed, the more we ought to sacrifice our happiness, as far as possible, to avoid that harm. This is not what is going on, however, when we try to figure out whether it’s acceptable to make someone jump through a flaming hoop. There we’re concerned with whether a certn harm can be prevented, it seems absurd to believe that we could actually get someone to jump through the hoop by promising them a hundred thousand dollars if they do it. So we can see why the harm we’re talking about might be far from a priority. If that’s all we were trying to do, we would of course have no trouble deciding that sacrificing a hundred thousand dollars is okay, and that it’s probably worth it. (If you need a lot of money, you probably shouldn’t be doing something like this, though.)
But even if we’re talking about getting someone to jump through a flaming hoop, there’s still a significant difference between the harm that might be caused, and the benefits to the victims of the harm. Someone might well ask: “Would it really make a difference whether you and I jumped or if the victim of the fire jumped through the hoop?” To this I can only reply: “No, it wouldn’t make a difference!”
I can see why someone might conclude that this makes me a “consequentialist,” which is something I’ve heard others compln about a lot, though it never seems to make much sense. I don’t believe that people ought to just take any possible advantage over others. I do, however, take it for granted that we ought to take seriously the interests of others, and that includes ensuring that they are treated as humanely as possible. This isn’t consequentialist. There is, however, a kind of consequentialist moral framework, which says that we ought to maximize welfare. This is the one that most people refer to as “consequentialist.” But a lot of people seem to think that this means that we ought to make no distinction between one good that is achieved and another, regardless of how much good is involved in each.
In practice, no matter what good you’re talking about, it seems possible to talk about harms to humans that could be prevented, while still not being