Moral Dilemma

7 July 2016

1. What is a moral dilemma? A genuine dilemma is one type of moral problem, captured by the expression “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” That is, in a dilemma, there appears to be no right answer or solution (Dreisbach, 2008). Moral dilemmas, at the very least, involve conflicts between moral requirements (McConnell, 2010).

3. The four questions that must be asked to establish if a Dirty Harry Problem exists are: Did the agent know the situation and the choices that it offers? The answer to this question is yes. Dirty Harry had a previous history with Scorpio and knew that Scorpio was capable of being unscrupulous. Therefore, Dirty Harry knew both the situation and the choices that this situation offered.

Moral Dilemma Essay Example

Did Dirty Harry know the difference between right and wrong when he decided to pursue Scorpio by any means necessary? The answer to this question is yes. Dirty Harry is an officer of the law and not only has he studies, but he has also taken an oath to uphold the laws in the Constitution. As an officer, he has undergone training and knows that it is his duty to uphold and not defy the laws of the land he has sworn to protect. As enforcers of law, police have a special duty to obey them (Dreisbach, 2008). Dirty Harry clearly knew the difference between right and wrong.

Did Dirty Harry act from free will? The answer to this question is yes. He was able to do otherwise but he chose instead to pursue Scorpio, by any means he deemed necessary. Dirty Harry knew he had plenty of alternatives, but he chose to ignore them. He chose to defy the law he was sworn to uphold and follow and torture Scorpio.

Did Dirty Harry intend to act as he did? The answer to this question is yes. Dirty Harry intentionally acted as he did. He was well aware of the alternatives, but instead chose to break into Scorpio’s apartment. Dirty Harry thereafter chose to torture Scorpio, while ignoring Scorpio’s request for an attorney.

4. Explain (please, for full credit, don’t just mention) Klockars’s four assumptions police make about guilt.

The Operative Assumption of Guilt which means police have to assume that the person they are working with is guilty in order for him to do his job efficiently, unless he knows otherwise. They are even to assume that the suspects’ behavior is implying guilt regardless of what that behavior is. This guilt the police hold on to does not disappear until he’s taken the appropriate actions to prove or disprove it; sometimes those actions include “dirty” ones.

Worst of all Possible Guilt comes to the conclusion that not only is the assumption of guilt present but the police also believe the suspect is dangerous. This method of thinking is based mainly on the idea that “once is enough.” That theory is somewhat centered around the fact that even simple, routine stops have escalated to more serious things, so if it happened once it could happen again. The Great Guilty Place Assumption is based on the concept of suspicion. Due to the environment the policemen are exposed to on the regular basis, it’s as if they look at our everyday ways of life and see all the potential of opportunities of crime. This assumption conforms to the idea that people, places, and now even occasions create epistemic problems.

The Not Guilty (This Time) Assumption is still centered on the idea that a suspect is guilty; however, they may just be innocent that one time. This is embedded on conscious that sometimes perpetrators get away with things for that moment but ultimately, they are still guilty of some sort of crime, just not at that particular moment.

5. What is the specific moral dilemma that Dirty Harry Problem poses for police officers? (ONE OR TWO SENTENCES ONLY) The specific moral dilemma with the Dirty Harry Problem is trying to decide when the Dirty Means justifies achieving a Morally Good End. It’s never a clear and concise answer.

6. Explain (please, for full credit, don’t just mention) whether and how Inspector Callahan acted as virtuous professional in terms of each of his FOUR professional relationships. Inspector Callahan did not act as a virtuous professional in terms of each of his four professional relationships. The four professional relationships are relationships with the client, the public at large, colleagues, and the profession itself. Those relationships, if acted upon with integrity, determine a virtuous police officer. Based off those ideas, Inspector Callahan acted as if only the little girl was his client. He completely neglected his sworn duty of obedience and trustworthiness to the public at large, who are also his clients.

Professional ethics are a balancing act when evaluating relationships and instead of maintaining this balance, Inspector Callahan put the girl’s safety above everything else. He did whatever he could to prove his loyalty to an individual client, the girl. Police and the community benefit from a clear understanding and acceptance of the department’s vision and mission, as long as the police officers live up to those ideals (Dreisbach, 2008). Officer Callahan’s myopic view allowed Scorpio to go free, thus nullifying all of Officer Callahan’s vigilante efforts, placing the public at large back in danger and allowing the girl to die in vain. Inspector Callahan felt obligated to do something to get at Scorpio for shooting his partner. Perhaps, Inspector felt it was his fault for his partner getting shot so; he did what to could to mend that relationship.

That probably was the driving force behind catching back to Scorpio. Inspector Callahan could have been thinking, that it could have been him that got shot instead of his partner. Nevertheless, the virtuous professional would not have reacted in such a manner. The virtuous professional would have trusted the legal system, of which he is a part, to enact justice, though it may take a while to obtain. Lastly, Inspector Callahan took an oath when he received his badge and that was to protect and serve; something that all cops must do even if it means losing their lives. That relationship to his profession, or rather being a cop is what determines which side he’s on; the good, law-abiding side or the bad, criminal side like Scorpio. If he were to just sit back and make no efforts in serving and protecting the people, it would be blatant disrespect to that oath, the badge he wears and the uniform he puts on every day. Nonetheless, honoring that badge means honoring the law that it represents. Therefore, Inspector Callahan did not act in a virtuous manner when he blatantly disobeyed all the rules related to his profession.

7. The virtuous police officer puts their professional relationships in proper priority, giving preference to the Constitution’s and the community’s interests over the interests of third parties, their colleagues or themselves (Dreisbach, 2008). The virtuous police officer is also aware of the scope and limits of their rights and the community’s role in helping them exercise those rights and exercises those rights only to the extent that they make the officer a more effective professional (Dreisbach, 2008). Using the aforestated as a guide that aides in the definition of a virtuous professional in terms of seven professional obligations, officer Dirty Harry Callahan, failed to act, maintain and uphold many of his seven professional obligations, and therefore cannot be deemed a virtuous professional.

One of the seven professional obligations of a virtuous professional is competence. The competent police officer knows the Constitution and laws as they apply to her professional practice and their jurisdiction ((Dreisbach, 2008). Officer Callahan’s actions were negligent in the following areas of policing: Investigating and interrogating. An officer of the law is to acknowledge a suspects request for an attorney, must follow regulations, statutes, i.e. obtaining a search warrant and must follow codes of conduct. Officer Callahan did not have the right to exact torture on Scorpio to obtain the goal of finding the girl. Officer Callahan therefore failed to uphold his professional obligation of competence. He did not act as a virtuous professional when being evaluated for competency.

Officer Callahan was also lacking in diligence, the second professional obligation of the virtuous professional. With diligence, the professional should make a good effort and take care in fulfilling their agreement with the client (Dreisbach, 2008). Officer Callahan’s short sightedness caused him to fail to note that even the suspect that he tortured and denied rights to was one of his clients. This suspect had the positive right to expect to: Not have his place searched illegally, from cruel and unusual punishment and to obtain due process of the law, starting primarily with obtaining an attorney. Officer Callahan also negated his agreement with the community and family that he blindly advocated for in his search for the missing girl, because his lack of diligence allowed Scorpio to go free. Officer Callahan gave into temptations to cut corners and instead opted to get the bad guy at all costs. As such, Officer Callahan did not follow the path of the virtuous professional when being evaluated for diligence.

The third professional obligation is honesty. There are two views regarding Officer Callahan’s honesty. Officer Callahan knew the situation and the choices that it offered, he knew the difference between right and wrong; he chose to act against all the departmental rules and regulations. He shrugged off his moral responsibility and acted dishonestly (lack of warrant, etc.,) from his own free will. Henceforth, Officer Callahan defaulted on his professional obligation of honesty. Officer Callahan knew the situation and the choices that it offered, he knew the difference between right and wrong, despite choosing to act against departmental rules to save the girl’s life, he reported the incidents truthfully. The case was thrown out of Court, but Officer Callahan maintained his honesty because he did not lie about the way he obtained evidence against Scorpio, upholding his moral responsibility and preserving the integrity of his profession. In this instance, the accumulation of actions resulted in the support of Officer Callahan’s third professional obligation of honesty.

The fourth professional obligation is candor. Candor is a matter of revealing everything one believes about the subject (Dreisbach, 2008). Officer Callahan acted as a virtuous professional when it relates to candor. It is possible to be honest without being candid, but it is not possible to be candid without being honest (Dreisbach, 2008). If Officer Callahan neglected to uphold his professional obligation of being candid, many of his actions would have been unknown to the department and Scorpio’s case would remain prosecutable. Officer Callahan’s candor gave the defense the necessary information to move for dismissal of Scorpio’s case.

The fifth professional obligation is loyalty. Officer Callahan did not act as a virtuous professional in regards to his professional obligation of loyalty. In policing, the professional promises loyalty to the Constitution and to the community they are serving, all other loyalties are subordinate. Failure to understand this or failure to act on this understanding is a symptom of and may be a cause of police corruption (Dreisbach, 2008). Analyzing a case is a balancing act and Officer Callahan only focused on one side of the pendulum – retrieving the missing girl alive. His loyalty only to that one cause produced a myopic vision of his circumstances and he failed in his professional obligation to be loyal to the rules and regulations that police officers are bound to obey. Police and the community benefit from a clear understanding and acceptance of the department’s vision and mission, as long as the police officers live up to those ideals (Dreisbach, 2008). Officer Callahan’s failure in his professional obligation of loyalty to the rules and regulations not only caused both the confession and the evidence from the warrantless search to be inadmissible in court, allowing Scorpio to go free, but damaged the integrity of the department and also injured the family and community that he is sworn to dutifully serve.

The sixth professional obligation is discretion. For a police officer, discretion refers primarily to the ability to make professional choices on one’s own, without having to run every decision by a superior (Dreisbach, 2008). Officer Callahan failed in acting as a virtuous professional in regards to discretion because he knowingly and willfully made choices that are antagonistic to any that his superiors, the Constitution, or any body of law would dictate. Fearing for the death of the girl, he acted with abject disregard to any rules. Although we have the innate right to do anything we can to preserve a life, exercising that right without restraint will keep us in a state of war from which fear of death drives us (Dreisbach, 2008). Since living in a state of war is counterintuitive to the goal of discretion, Officer Callahan’s actions were in direct contradiction of the goals one would want to achieve when performing the professional obligation of discretion.

The seventh professional obligation is beneficence/nonmaleficence. Below are several views regarding Officer Callahan’s actions: Officer Callahan acted with beneficence towards the family and the girl, because he did everything he could to get her back alive. He had a desire to do some good for the both of them. He therefore acted as a virtuous professional. Officer Callahan, acting as a virtuous professional, feared for the safety of the community and wanted to get Scorpio off the streets. He therefore acted with beneficence/nonmaleficence. Due to the unsuccessful attempts to arrest Scorpio for the two previous deaths, Officer Callahan became personally invested in arresting Scorpio and acted with blind passion and desire. Officer Callahan was only truly interested in stopping Scorpio. The girl was a byproduct of his obsession. In this scenario, Officer Callahan is guilty of maleficence and is not a virtuous professional. At the very least, the professional should try not to harm the client (Dreisbach, 2008). Officer Callahan denied Scorpio his rights and tortured him to get a confession. Therefore, Officer Callahan is guilty of maleficence.

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