Still on the deontological theory, the second case receives similar treatment. Revealing pictures of the wounded dead Al Qaeda leader may not augur well with the human rights activists and the Middle East citizens as well as all his sympathizers. This may cause agitation among the terrorist groups who may wage retaliatory attacks. What is the take of this theory on these consequences? Given that it does not rely on eventualities, revealing pictures of the dead Osama may not really be an issue since after all; even if Obama rules against it, other people will discreetly do it or fake the picture and post it on the web. Alternatively, he may declare the pictures to be made public and yet the acts raise no eyebrows as anticipated. Worse of all, the pictures may be concealed and yet, retaliatory attacks, what the Americans fear, ensue. Whatever the decision, Kant, in this theory posits that the future is unpredictable and hence decisions cannot be based on it or else his respect.
Aristotle thought that everyone was aiming towards the final end of eudaimonia; flourishing and excellence – a successful and happy life. The way to reach this goal is to practise phronesis, practical wisdom, in moral dilemmas not just moral dilemmas, could be any situation we face, until the most wanted virtues for a person to have eventually became instinct. Aristotle himself wrote “As men become builders by building, we become just by doing just acts”. He thought that people became heroes by doing heroic acts, that we could not just follow rules in order to become moral. We have to prove and then improve our morality and virtuousness by being moral and virtuous.( In contrast, Utilitarianism focuses on which action would produce the greatest amount of happiness. This places no importance on what the person is like, what they have done before or what they could become in the future. The act in itself is what is good and what should be weighed up in our minds.) . While the assumption is made by Aristotle that we are indeed purposive beings with rational goals in life, something that would be rejected by someone like Richard Dawkins, applying this theory in life does make sense in places where other theories seem to fall down. In the example of the crazed knife wielder who asks whether our friend is hiding upstairs, the classic pitfall of a rule-based Kantian is that they would have to tell the truth, and in doing so, hand our friend upstairs a death sentence. Virtue ethics argues that we would instinctively know to lie to protect our friend, and we would know this by applying phronesis to the situation we found ourselves in, not by arbitrarily following a deontological and absolute rule we have imposed on ourselves. In this way character-based ethics is much more useful that rule-based ethics. It is holistic, it involves emotions and makes use of the fundamental human function of reasoning. We understand good virtues and we find ourselves wanting to be good, virtuous citizens. Rule-based ethics – particularly that of Kant – seems to go against our instinct and dismisses natural need to think about a situation before making a decision. It discounts feelings and for this reason is not entirely realistic, as we cannot change the fact that we are emotional human beings.
On the contrary, besides the groundless comparison – if for instance the traditions would be taken into account – the scientific verification regarding the biological continuity of Greeks once more proves that the socio-historical and geographical conditions are the main factors ruling the people’s cultural level.)”.
Sunday the 1st of May 2011 will remain in the annals of Anti-terrorism war in America as the day the Whitehouse publicly pronounced this much-awaited death. However, the success in killing of Obama has not been altogether unmarred. It has raised several ethical issues that nevertheless need addressing. Top on the list of these controversies is the collateral killings that characterized Osama’s killing and the publication of his wounded dead body. This paper puts into perspective the ethical challenges that accompanied the above exercise in subjecting the events in Obama’s place (empathy) as a precursor to them. This will be achieved by considering two ethical theories; the deontological theory and the utilitarian theory and how one ought to do when confronted with such situations.
The first theory that will be put in practice in this paper is the deontological theory. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) advanced this theory. This theory judges morality by examining what the nature of the actions is and the will of the agents. It does not focus on the goals achieved, hence, it can be termed as input oriented rather than taking an output or outcome approach of the events (Cahn, 70-75). Kant realized that despite our efforts to be perfect, one would always take the blame when things fail to go well with the agents. He further insisted that the future was unpredictable and hence basing the judgment on the morality of an act on its consequence would be unfair (Kay, 1997 p 1).
In this paper, I will illustrate the arguments pertaining to John Stuart Mill's teleological utilitarianism and Immanuel Kant's deontological categorical imperative.