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Moral Judgment, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 330

Essay

The philosophy of right relationships is justice. Restorative justice, Distributive justice, Utilitarianism and Retributive justice are all variations of justice that constitute the philosophy of proper relations. Ethical questions can be solved via sorting through five approaches; Utilitarian, Rights, Justice, Common-Good and Virtue approach. It is these approaches that I will use to analyze ‘United States Vs Holmes’(Sylvan Barnet, Hugo Bedau).

Should anyone have been put on trial or do you see Holmes as a hero rather than a “villain”? In my opinion no one should have been put on trial and in fact Holmes should have received a medal or some sort of honor. Both Bentham and Mill for instance were utilitarian and consequentialists in their approaches to law. Actions are to produce the greatest benefit and the least harm. The only action available to Holmes was to throw people overboard for the collective safe guard of the rest. The other option was to let everybody drown including himself. The law of self preservation applies here and more specifically the preservation of the crew.

Immanuel Kant and others like him focused on people’s rights. However, in this situation, the right to life and liberty was suspended by the circumstances they were facing: certain death in a sinking life boat at night.  “Equals should be treated equally and unequal’s unequally,” so said Aristotle. Holmes’s approach was discriminatory in his selection. However in a humane way, married couples were for instance not separated and no women were selected. The drawing of lots would not have discriminated.

Toward a common good I borrow from Aristotle for he saw virtue as balance between excess and deficiency a golden mean if you will. Holmes’s action fulfilled this. He went for the golden mean. The common good was to further the goal of survival for the crew and as a crewmember he had automatic authority.

Works Cited

Sylvan Barnet, Hugo Bedau, United States vs. Holmes, 7th edition, (Reader 27-35)

Sylvan Barnet, Hugo Bedau, A Moralist’s view: ways of thinking ethically, 7th edition 393-402

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