Ethics in Criminal Justice

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Daily people encounter various ethical dilemmas, which are analyzed with the help of ethical principles. Still, while resolving ethical challenges, it is important to take into consideration all peculiarities of the case in the perspective of present time. Undoubtedly, current approaches of dealing with ethical dilemmas are different from those, which were relevant 100 years ago. The twenty-first century dictates the necessity of new effective approaches. Ethical principles of well-famous philosophers Aristotle, Kant, and Mills are peculiar in their methods of dealing with ethical dilemmas. The task of the essay is to define which one of these three ethical principles is the most appropriate approach to ethical challenges in the twenty-first century. For completing this task, it is necessary to analyze the nature of the mentioned principles and their effectiveness in present conditions.

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The Greek philosopher Aristotle developed the notion of virtuous person, who acts in a kind way in the majority of lifetime situations not for reasons of moral or social duty but for personal choice. According to Aristotle, well reasoning as a distinctive feature of humans makes them pay attention to the way their actions affect other people. At the same time, virtue ethics does not provide people with guidance of how they should act but emphasizes the importance of developing the excellent conduct, which can bring good to a person himself and people around him (Nussbaum, 1988). John Mill developed the notion of utility, according to which actions are considered right if they promote the overall human happiness. Therefore, the activity should be based on the desire to achieve the greatest pleasure to the greatest number of people. Achieving the stance of happiness, which is considered to be the absolute good, should be higher than narrow self-interest (Mill, 2016). In general, even if a deed itself is not morally good, the final consequence of an action is the only things which matters. Immanuel Kant is focused on the notion of duty as the most effective method for dealing with ethical dilemmas. According to his theory, people are bound by duty to behave and act according to categorical imperatives despite of her personal intentions and desires.

It is a well-known truth that ethical dilemmas require making a difficult choice between two alternatives, in case of which obeying one side usually leads to transgressing another. In my opinion, the virtue ethics by Aristotle is the most effective approach for dealing with such paradoxes. As it was mentioned above, the core principles of virtue ethics is the importance of conscious choice of moral conduct, which is made by each single person (Nussbaum, 1988). Namely, people should act good not out of obligation or duty but guided by the inner intention to improve their conduct. This theory claims that perfection of the whole world is possible only if every person in particular makes a choice in favor of good. Therefore, if every individual is attentive to the way his actions affect the world and other people, there will be no need in regulations and imperatives. In my point of view, the trouble of selfishness is especially relevant for the 21th century. The majority of people are oriented at self-satisfaction regardless of consequences it provides on other people’ lives. In order to improve this situation, each member of the society should change inside and make a conscious choice for good conduct for the benefit of himself and other people’s well-being.

In my opinion, philosophies by Kant and Mill would not work as well as the ethics of virtue in today’s world. Reaching the stance of overall human happiness is practically impossible task, as it is hardly probable to satisfy all members of the society with so different understanding of happiness and pleasure. Besides, it is wrong to pay attention only to results of an action leaving aside its morality, as it can lead to wrongful understanding of appropriate conduct. The same refers to the notion of duty expressed by Kant, according to which people should obey categorical imperatives acceptable in the society. In my opinion, blind adherence of regulative orders without inner morality can hardly lead to the overall well-being. On the contrary, Aristotelian ethics of virtue claims that global changes for the good start from the conscious inner transformation of every single person, which is more effective than strict performance of duties or reaching the absolute happiness of the largest number of people.

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Ethics in Criminal Justice. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from

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