Deontology Ethics Case
You are an expert security software programmer who works in top secret for the national government of the country of Zulu. Late one afternoon, you come across an ominous email in which you learn that a small group of sinister government officials from Zulu plan – in exactly one hour – to unleash a nuclear attack on the neighboring country of Delta. It happens that this very same group of officials is at odds with the neighboring country because of vastly different political and economic views. The bottom line? You are aware that if this missile is launched, the event will spawn World War III.
Because you are the only person in the country of Zulu who has knowledge of the specific program code that will be used to trigger this devastating missile launch, you alone are the one individual who has the capacity to de-program the event — i.e., you could choose to cancel the launch altogether, or you could otherwise divert the nuclear missile to a neutral zone. In short, millions of innocent lives are now in your hands.
However, you adhere strictly to duty ethics (referred to as a “deontologist”). On the day that you assumed your role as a top-secret national security programmer, you took a solemn oath swearing that you would never intervene in any government action, no matter its consequences. In short, your duty is limited to software programming — and to programming alone. Indeed, your oath entails that you have an explicit duty never to make a decision that extends beyond your software programming role. Moreover, you are sworn never to discuss your programs with any other human being – except for communication that may be required with a limited number of superiors. On any given day, these few superiors of yours are easily found somewhere in the building. But alas! On this day, you are unable to find even one superior for advice (are they perhaps bound and gagged somewhere in this massive building?).
What would a strict deontologist do? Why?
To whom or to what is your duty? This is not an easy question…but it is also what makes duty ethics so much fun!
What would Immanuel Kant’s “Categorical Imperative” suggest you do here?
In this situation, would duty ethics be at odds with the thinking of Immanuel Kant? Explain.
Remember the requirements for our weekly discussion questions. Embedding course material principles, concepts and theories. Using outside scholarly literature. A minimum of 3 peer replies per discussion question
Here is a site to reference http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_deontology.html I copied it below.
Deontology Ethics Case
Deontology comes from the Greek word for ‘duty.’ It is a theory of morality that takes a non-consequentialist approach with moral decision making and people (“Deontological Ethics,” 2017). The end or consequences are not as important as adhering to a strict sense of duty. In deontological ethics, you cannot justify an action by considering the effects. There are other more important factors than good outcomes in determining whether an action is right or wrong (Alexander, & Moore, 2017).
A strict deontologist will adhere to the principles of duty ethics without the consideration of any right or wrong outcome in this situation because they are bound by oath to perform what is necessary. The right thing to do is to comply with the commands since that is their duty to the country at all times and to do otherwise would be unethical (“Deontological Ethics,” 2017). In this case, the security programmer is bound by a sense of duty to their country, and hence they must play their part. The security programmer had to undertake a solemn oath proclaiming that they would never interfere with any government actions regardless of their consequences. The oath explicitly dictates that the programmer should never make any decisions that extend beyond the realm of their profession.
It is clear that as a strict deontologist, the programmer has to play the necessary role to help the government in accomplishing its actions. The deadly consequences of the action are not as important as the call to duty, which is the primary determinant of morality in deontological ethics. Deontology is a part of the moral theories that assess and guide our choices of what we should do in contrast to the model type of person we are required to be.
The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant proposed the categorical imperative. The core of the categorical imperative implies that an action is considered moral if it can be extrapolated to become a universal law. It is a method, in deontology, for determining the motivation behind various actions. According to Kant, all ligations and duties are derived from the human being’s final command to reason since people occupy a special place in creation.
In this situation, the categorical imperative would suggest to abort the mission and disobey the orders by choosing the right goodwill (“Deontology – By Branch / Doctrine – The Basics of Philosophy,” 2017). The categorical imperative shows a close relation with moral theories that suggest doing only that which you would wish done to you in return. The act of sanctioning a nuclear bomb, though right by duty ethics, is not morally right when putting into human reasoning and goodwill. The fact that certain people have political and economic differences does not justify the actions of killing millions of people and starting a war by launching a nuclear bomb.
If the action of detonating the nuclear bomb were to become a universal law, the whole world would be in chaos. The categorical imperative would lead the programmer to abort the program since the people who could be available to give advice happen to be conspicuously absent. Duty ethics is at odds with the categorical imperative of Immanuel Kant in this situation since the action is not good without qualification.
The contrasting viewpoints show us
the various types of deontological reasoning. A strict deontologist is
non-consequentialist and hence considers what is right over what is good
(“Deontology – By Branch / Doctrine – The Basics of Philosophy,”
2017). The categorical imperative has a similar reasoning to virtue ethics
since it justifies an action by considering it as a universal law. Deontology
does not identify with things that are regarded as universally good or theories
grounded on God. At its core, deontology is a duty-based and naturalistic
theory that transcends any individual subjective realities. Other deontological
theories like the divine command, would be in contrast with the case of duty
ethics in this case.
Alexander, L., & Moore, M. (2017). Deontological Ethics. Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-deontological/
Deontological ethics. (2017). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/deontological-ethics
Deontological Ethics. (2017). AllAboutPhilosophy.org. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/deontological-ethics.htm
Deontology – By Branch / Doctrine – The Basics of Philosophy. (2017). Philosophybasics.com. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_deontology.html