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Kant's duty-based ethics and Act Utilitarianism theory

The case study that is chosen to be analysed in this report is "Intelligence and counter-terrorism measures."The chosen case study will be analysed on the basis of Kant's duty ethics and act Utilitarianism theory.

Kant’s duty-based ethics indicates that some things should never be done, no matter what consequences they produce (Kant, 2017). The duty-based ethical theory generally reflects the way in which some human being thinks. According to Kant and the duty-based theory, all humans are required to be inherently worthy of respect and dignity. It is argued that morality must stem from different duties (DiCenso, 2019). Therefore, all the duties that are performed by any individual should have moral worth.

Act Utilitarianism theory of ethics indicates that a person's act is morally right if it has the ability to produce the best possible results in a specific situation (Smart, 2020). Therefore, in simple terms, it can be said that if the consequence of a situation is right, then the action is right.

. In this report, the discussed situation will undergo an ethical analysis in accordance with Kant’s duty ethics and Act utilitarianism. In the following section of the report, a detailed ethical analysis of the chosen scenario is presented.

Since the 2001 terrorist attack in New York and the 2002 Bali bombings, which resulted in many Australians being killed, the Australian Government, police, military, and security agencies have pursued anti-terrorism measures as a priority. The Australian Government has taken necessary measures to combat the threats related to terrorism and has increased the legal powers related to the investigation and detention of the legal threats. However, a number of measures related to the same have been called out as a threat to civil liberties. For example, as per Telecommunication Act 1979, which was amended in 2015, the internet service providers are required to securely retain all telecommunication-related data for the criminal justice agency to access. Along with that, there is a potentially slippery slope for the data to be made available to a wider range of agencies in the future. These types of acts and measures taken by the Australian Government question the privacy of people, and hence, underpinning this debate is the question of whether it is ethical to infringe on the privacy and liberty of a small number of suspect people to protect the entire nation from the greater threat of terrorism (Suzor et al., 2017). The question arises on whether it is ethical to remove some privacy and civil liberties for the greater good of national security. The collection of private data of the individuals seems to be wrong; if the data is collected for some good purpose, it might not be considered wrong. A detailed analysis of this situation is made on the basis of two ethical theories, Act Utilitarianism and Kant's duty-based ethical theory.

The basic principle of Act Utilitarianism is that whenever a decision related to some action or scenario is to be taken, it should always be associated with the greater good (Rosenqvist, 2020). The Utilitarianism theory is one most widely used ethical theories as the core idea of this ethical theory is based on the consequence of an action (Roff, 2020). An analysis of the scenario discussed above, on the basis of the Act Utilitarianism theory, is presented as follows-

Anti-terrorism measures in Australia

The measures taken by the Australian Government aim to combat the threats of terrorism and easier identification the person who can prove to be a significant threat. Therefore, the intention behind the collection of the private data of the individuals is quite clear. Australian Government has prioritized the consideration of the anti-terrorism measures, and one such measure is to securely retain all sorts of telecommunication data of the individuals so that the criminal justice agencies can access those data whenever they want. It has to be kept in mind that the Australian Government has prioritized secure storage of data, and hence, for the sake of analysis in terms of Act Utilitarianism theory, it is assumed that there are no data security risks linked with this situation (Abumere, 2019).

Therefore, as per the Act Utilitarianism theory, it is not wrong for the Australian Government to access the telecommunication data or share the data with a wider range of agencies in the future, as the primary aim behind the collection of data is to provide advanced security to the all the Australians and reduce the threats related to terrorism (Sarre, 2017). As discussed earlier, the Act Utilitarianism theory is based on consequences, and it prioritizes the actions that positively impact a large number of people; it might not be unethical for the Government to collect individual data as long as the data security is ensured. Although the action might seem unethical, the consequence of the action aims to provide the greater good and hence, it can be concluded that it is ethical to infringe on the privacy of a small number of people to protect the entire nation from some major risks related to terrorism.

Kant's duty-based ethical theory is significantly different from the Act Utilitarianism theory as it prioritizes the act and not the consequence (Baron, 2018). In this theory, Kant argues that all the acts that are performed in regard to the duty are moral and/or ethical.

The Australian Government has passed laws and increased its legal powers to investigate and detain potential terrorists. One such legal power is to detain all the telecommunication data related to suspected terrorists so that it can be accessed by the criminal justice agencies. The strictness in the person data collection of the individuals has been made with an intention to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. Therefore, it can be said that the Australian Government is collecting and securely storing data of some suspected individuals out of their duty to protect the nation from terrorist attacks (Schuster et al., 2017). According to Kant's duty theory, any action that is done as a part of duty is not unethical. Therefore, if the Australian Government is collecting the telecommunication data of some group of people as a part of their duty to protect the nations, the situation can not be considered unethical.

In the previous two sections of this report, a detailed analysis of the ethical scenario based on the Act Utilitarianism and Kant's duty-based ethical theory is presented. On analysis of the scenario on the basis of the said two theories, it is identified that the primary reason behind a collection of the telecommunication data of a particular group of individuals is to protect the nation from a greater threat, such as the threat of terrorism. In the 2001 New York terrorist attack and the 2002 Bali bombing, several innocent Australians were killed. The Australian Government has taken strict measures after that so that similar incidents are not repeated (Mueller & Stewart, 2018). Hence, the action reflects the duty of the Australian Government to protect the nation. Although collection and storage of data can be considered unethical, the data is being stored with the aim of doing the greater good for a large number of people.

Debate on privacy and civil liberties

Therefore, in accordance with the findings of this report, it is ethical to infringe on the privacy and liberty of a small number of suspects to protect the nation from a greater threat of terrorism (Zemlin et al., 2020). It is clear that the Government has passed strict rules with a clear intention of protecting the people from any type of threats, and hence, the step taken by the Australian Government is found to be ethical.

Conclusion

The report presents an ethical analysis of the scenario "Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Measures ."The analysis indicates that the act of collection and storage of the personal data of some users is directly linked with the intention of saving the nation from a bigger threat. It is the duty of the Australian Government to ensure the safety and security of all the Australians, and the collection of personal data of the suspects can be a major preventive measure that can be considered in this case. Furthermore, the Government is collecting the data legally, as different laws were passed in relation to the same, which indicates that people are aware of the fact that their data can be collected. In this report, the ethical scenario is analysed on the basis of the two widely used ethical theories, which are the Act Utilitarianism theory and Kant's Duty-based ethical theory. The analysis indicates that it might not be wrong for the Australian Government to collect data on a small group of suspects as long as all their personal data are securely stored. Furthermore, the Government is collecting data in accordance with the amended Telecommunication Act 1979. Since they are doing their duty of protecting the nation, the action might not be wrong.

On analysis of the situation, it can be concluded that it is possible for the Australian Government to ethically manage the situation as long as the data they are collected is securely stored and only be used for safety purposes.  

References

Abumere, F. A. (2019). Utilitarianism. Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics.

Baron, M. W. (2018). Kantian ethics almost without apology. In Kantian Ethics Almost without Apology. Cornell University Press.

DiCenso, J. J. (2019). Kant on ethical institutions. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 57(1), 30-55.

Kant, I. (2017). Kant: The metaphysics of morals. Cambridge University Press.

Mueller, J., & Stewart, M. G. (2018). Public opinion and counterterrorism policy. Cato Institute..

Roff, H. M. (2020). Expected utilitarianism. arXiv preprint arXiv:2008.07321.

Rosenqvist, S. (2020). Hedonistic act utilitarianism: Action guidance and moral intuitions (Doctoral dissertation, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University).

Sarre, R. (2017). Metadata retention as a means of combatting terrorism and organised crime: A perspective from Australia. Asian journal of criminology, 12(3), 167-179.

Schuster, S., Van Den Berg, M., Larrucea, X., Slewe, T., & Ide-Kostic, P. (2017). Mass surveillance and technological policy options: Improving security of private communications. Computer Standards & Interfaces, 50, 76-82.

Smart, J. J. C. (2020). Utilitarianism and its applications. In New directions in Ethics (pp. 24-41). Routledge.

Suzor, N., Pappalardo, K., & McIntosh, N. (2017). The passage of Australia's data retention regime: national security, human rights, and media scrutiny. Internet Policy Review, 6(1), 1-16.

Zemlin, A., Pishchelko, A., & Kharlamova, Y. (2020). Problems of realisation of public oversight in the field of transport counterterrorism policy. Kutafin Law Review, 7(1), 67-78.

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My Assignment Help. 'Ethical Analysis Of Intelligence And Counter-Terrorism Measures In Australia' (My Assignment Help, 2022) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/cult2005-ethics-in-the-social-sciences/act-utilitarianism-theory-file-A1E7857.html> accessed 15 July 2024.

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