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Philosophical and Practical Approach: Individual Rights and Public Protection

5 pages
1300 words
Middlebury College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

For these two issues to be balanced the philosophical and practical approach that is taken is mainly entrenched in the societal contract. Going back in history we see that individuals had the freedom and lived freely and they could do anything that pleased them without anyone interfering with their rights or in their lives. However, in this process people got to hurt and attack each other aimlessly either to steal something for the purpose of feeling superior to the next person. In those times there was no sense of protection and it was up to the various communities to join up to strengthen their protection and their resources in general.

As a student practicing law enforcement and criminal justice, I recognize that it is important for me to have standards of ethical conduct that will guide my decisions when being faced with hard challenges. A personal philosophy is very important because law enforcers have had to deal with criminals whom one might face conflicts of interests with or sometimes conflicting of ethical principles. There are people who end up violating individual rights for the purpose of public protection and one need to learn how to balance these two issues.

As a law enforcer, I rely on the following philosophical principles to help me through my course when am balancing these two keys issues, that is individual rights and public protection. I comprehend that it is important to respect an individual with regards to the personal rights and the extent to which their freedoms have been liberated but to do that on the confinements of the law, that is ensuring that the public safety is also observed. It would be unwise to always put the individual rights first because that would mean that sometimes the public protection would be at risk, (Brennan, 1977).

An example in which I would put this philosophy into practice would be a situation where individuals or a group of people have decided to demonstrate against something. It is their right to demonstrate as long as they do it peacefully. Therefore, in that situation, I would ensure that the group of individuals gets the necessary protection during the demonstration. However, if the demonstration turns violent and the public is kept at risk and the public is endangered then I would take the responsibility to stop the demonstrators.

Use of reward and punishment

There happen to be very many diverse ethical opinions on the issue of reward and punishment in the career path of a law enforcer. Humanity as a whole thrives on reasons and they believe that the only way to accomplish some form of success then they must portray force in order to describe their ability to handle challenges. There are two major approaches that are applied for reward and they include; justice, where one is rewarded for effort and utilitarian, where one is rewarded on the basis of the results.

The two major approaches that are used with regards to punishment include; punishment by retribution where the offender is punished with regard or extent of the crime committed and punishment by utilitarian where the offender is punished as an example to the rest of the society, that is preventing potential offenders from possibly committing crimes, ( Banks,1976).

In my opinion, I choose to reward on the basis of results because one would be more accountable for their effort and they will see the fruits for putting in the effort. In balancing the rewards with punishment, I would use the approach of punishment by retribution because the individual will be punished with regard to the extent of the offense committed also. Therefore, this two will create a balance.

An example in which I would put this philosophy into practice is the instance where I catch a thief stealing someone elses property. Philosophically a thief only steals because they feel the need to, therefore I would give the thief the chance to return the stolen goods instead of prosecuting the thief immediately. This way the thief will get a second chance to start looking for honest means of survival.

Application of immoral means

Many law enforcers have over the time opted to use immoral and out of the book ways in order to accomplish a good or desirable end. For this to be the final resort then it usually means that all the moral or by the book means cannot solve the problem at hand, therefore the resolve to immoral means for example torture, lying during interrogation and use of bribes among others to solve the issue.

This nevertheless may be looked at as double standards where the same law enforcer breaks the law in order to get a problem solved, this in the real sense places the law enforcer on the same footing as the criminal. I would, however, use these immoral methods to accomplish a desirable end under some few circumstances. This include; the only option left for a desirable end is the use of immoral means and am guaranteed that this would bear a desirable end, that is the use of the deontological principles and the matter being handled at hand is very urgent and the only possible way to accomplish this on time is by inviting the immoral means to the table, therefore applying a utilitarian principle.

An example in which I would apply this method would be in the instance in which I catch two potential robbers who had targeted the same place and had planned the robbery together. I would hold this suspects in two different interrogation rooms with the aim of wanting to know their target. In an instance where they are both not willing to reveal their target, I would lie to both of them that one of them has already revealed the location and has even agreed to take me to the exact location and in turn has even been offered a deal of being released. This would prompt one of them or both of them to talk and by this, I would have discovered their target.

Ethics of care and peacemaking criminology

There are four major theories that are used to describe these ethics and they include; the utilitarian ethics, the virtue ethics, the justice ethics and the normative ethics. The stated ethics basically form the backbone for the ethical decision-making that is widely used by law enforcers and the criminal justice experts, (Miller,1973).

I believe that the utilitarian approach can be effectively used when applying the immoral ethics to a justifiable end. This means that all the approaches have been utilized and failed and also there is an inefficiency of final decisions. This method can also be used for balancing reward and punishment and they help the professionals when they are faced with very tasking and challenging dilemmas.

The deontological principle should be followed by the law enforcers for the purpose of protecting the social order and the common good. These are situations where the balancing of individual rights and protection of the public is involved. Justice ethics should also be used in a situation where the safety of very many is against one person and therefore justice should prevail a situation like that.


Ethics have over the time proved to be the core element when it comes to decision making which centers around all the ethical dilemmas. They are concerned with how one acts, the codes of conduct and the standards by which the conducts abide in.



Brennan Jr, W. J. (1977). State constitutions and the protection of individual rights. Harvard Law Review, 489-504.

Banks, W. C. (1976). The effects of perceived similarity upon the use of reward and punishment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 12(2), 131-138.

Miller, W. B. (1973). Ideology and criminal justice policy: Some current issues. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 64(2), 141-162.


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