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Consequentialism
and Ethical Decision Making week 4 discussion 2

police officer close to retirement
is training a rookie cop. Their shift is over and they are returning to the
precinct. Suddenly, they spot several teenagers smoking marijuana. Using each
approach to consequentialist decision-making (ethical egoism, contractualism,
and utilitarianism), explain how the officers’ choice not to pursue the
matter is (or is not) ethical behavior.

According to Williams and Arrigo
(2012), consequentialism actions are actions, laws, policies, etc. that are to
the degree that they only produce good or some form of utility.  “Actions
themselves are neither inherently right nor inherently wrong; rather, moral
worth attaches only to what decisions and actions bring about, not directly to
the decisions or actions themselves,’ (Williams & Arrigo, 2012, p.
145).  In regards to the above scenario, the ethical egoist approach of
not pursuing the matter would argue that pursuing the teens smoking would not
be an act of self-interest.  Ethical egoism behavior is driven by self-interest
which is displayed as the officer chooses not to pursue the teens.

A Utilitarian approach to not
pursuing the teens could be explained by utility.  The Utilitarian
approach suggests that actions are morally right if they produce the greatest
amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.  According to the
Utilitarian viewpoint, the officers choosing not to pursue the teens ultimately
is justified because the teens are not affecting the happiness of others. 
The contractualism approach suggests that there is a form of contract or
understanding between the individuals.  Perhaps the teens have something
to hold over the police officer.  Regardless, the act is certainly
unethical behavior.

Williams, C. R., & Arrigo, B. A.
(2012). Ethics, crime, and criminal justice (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ:
Pearson Education, Inc.

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