Q1) “Justice is more fluid than absolute” (pg. 259) If stealing medicine to save a life is justified, where do we draw the line? Should the justice system incorporate moral reasoning into the way laws are enforced? (Examples- theft, drug addiction
How this relates to the reading: This weeks reading was very much regarding morals and as O’Neill states on page 260, “Kant’s scope is much broader than human rights.” He is talking about how the obligations humans have and they may not always correspond with laws and freedoms. This question also relates more to an American way of viewing health care as they have to pay extensive amounts of money sometimes to fill a subscription.
A1) My group came up with many great responses including that Kant would suggest the government help the person obtain a good standard of living instead of arresting someone for a non-violent or petty felony. Not that Kant would ever encourage stealing but stealing would be correct only if it was the absolute final resort and you felt the moral value of stealing exceeded the burden of breaking the law. In this case, laws are in place to protect people from being stolen from which violates personal rights. Programs have been set up now a days to save people from needing to steal. Kant would probably suggest stealing from a large corporation with lots of money (Shoppers Drug Mart) compared to a small business (family owned and run) would be morally better due to the fact that the workers of the huge corporation are still obtaining the same pay cheque compared to if that person had not stolen. Where as stealing from a small business is directly taking the money from the owner who probably doesn’t nearly make as much as a large company. The conclusion was stealing is never right but moral values may not always be the legal way to do things but they may outweigh the legal penalty. The enforcers of the laws should judge each case separately and hold the same level of standards for all people in all situations but the best answer isn’t always throwing them in a cell.
Q2) Say you stumble across a money clip with no ID and no cards or any way to know who it may belong too with a $50 dollar bill in it outside of the grocery store – is it morally better to turn it in to the manager of the store and not accept the money somebody may be looking for or use it to buy $50 dollars worth of groceries and donate them to a food bank?
I chose this question because if it was a wallet with an ID you could get it back to them fairly easily but can you trust the other people along the way? If the store manager decides to take the money for them self then its a lose-lose situation. If the possibility of an unmoral action is present then that action should not be followed through. This relates to the reading because on page 260 it states “There is no problem when we are deciding our own action:..” and “..there is no guarantee we can always work out which maxim will be scrutinized for purposes of what others do.”
A1) We discussed that donating it to charity ensures it is going to a good place and we all agreed it would have a slim chance ending up where it is supposed to. Kant would have a problem taking the money and donating to charity because he would be using the person’s money as a mere means to an end. (happiness) Even though the intentions were right, the money belonged to someone else and if the possibility of them getting it back was present then that may help that person fulfill their end goal. We also talked about how we would feel happiness knowing someone would benefit from the $50 dollars worth of food. Mill would have had no problem donating the money for that same reason, if someone was benefitting and you were feeling a sense of happiness as a result then that action should be pursued to the fullest extent.