Moral Reasoning

Moral Reasoning




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Moral Reasoning

According to Haidt (2001) moral reasoning can be defined as a conscious mental activity that involves transforming certain information about people so as to reach a moral judgment. Our ability to make social judgments change and matures as we grow older. As an individual reaches a new stage, his ability to solve more sophisticated social dilemmas with more sophisticated reasoning also increases (Kohlberg, 1969).

The type of reasoning employed by the police is what we might call non-consequentialist or deontological; rules are accepted as good and actions are judged according to adherence to those rules or lack of it. The police officer did not care that the football was rushing to see his dying mother-in law, his main and only concern was that the footballer was driving recklessly and thus breaking the law. Whereas the reasoning of the football player is described as consequentialist or teleological; classic case of the end justifies the means. The footballer rushing to be with the dying mother-in law was the greater good and over speeding was the only means by which he could reach there on time. In teleological reasoning, once an end is identified as good, means are selected to reach that end. I have no doubt that had I could have acted in the same way as the football player in similar circumstances. I agree that it is fine to adhere to set rules and regulations but not when they are hindering greater good. Situations are to be analyzed on case by case basis to determine what kind of moral judgment to make.

Was the police officer right to hold them? As much I don’t think it was wise for him to hold them due to mitigating factors presented, I believe the police was simply doing his duty of enforcing the law. Moral reasoning is concerned with the rightness or wrongness of an act and how it might cause harm to others besides the agent (Hynes, Borg, Van Horn, Grafton, & Sinnott-Armstrong, 2006).Based on this premise, I am compelled to the say that despite of the mitigating circumstances, the police office was in the right to pull them over and give them a ticket but was it a very wise thing to do? I don’t think so. He could have allowed the football player to have some time with his dying mother-in law, especially after the doctor and the nurse had backed up his story and then issue them a ticket letter. I am sure that would have worked out perfectly for both parties.

Two ethical issues stand out in this case: empathy and justice. The police officer by pulling them over and ordering them to get back in the car even after the nurse and doctor had come out to substantiate is just heartless to say the least. I do not think the police officer was empathetic, he didn’t place himself in their shoes. I can’t speak for him but I would think he would do the same under the circumstances. The same argument can be advanced by the police, that the couple did not care about the law and his job, failure to enforce the said laws can lead to the losing his job.

In terms of justice and if it was done. This depends with the side on which you seat. Like I have said before I don’t believe the police officer was fair to have the couple pull over for a ticket. I am sure there must have been another way of getting them to have the ticket without preventing them from having last moments with their mother but again someone can argue that the life the said mother-in law was not in the hands of the police officer. It wasn’t his call to make.

In conclusion, it is good that when we think about whether a decision or act is wrong or right we put the prevailing circumstances into consideration. I believe it is not black and white


Borg, J. S., Hynes, C., Van Horn, J., Grafton, S., & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2006). Consequences, action, and intention as factors in moral judgments: An fMRI investigation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18,803–817.

Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108 (4), 814–834.

Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory (pp. 347–480). Chicago: Rand McNally.

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