APPLICATION OF NORMATIVE ETHICAL THEORIES
I choose case 1.1 which states that; “As an instructor in the university one day while giving an in-class exam you notice one of the bright student whose father had passed away recently cheating. You know that the student has been having difficulties in concentrating on his schoolwork since then. You decide not to interrupt the student during the exams since this could humiliate him in front of the classmates. You could confront him after the exams, fail him for the test and let the matter go at that. However, the university has firm policy on cheating cases. The policy requires that all cases be reported by faculty to the administration. Faculty are forbidden to use their own discretion in any cases of cheating. The administration is highly intolerant on cheating and first offense results to suspension for a semester, second offense result in expulsion”.
Was I justified in not interrupting the student during the exam? Should I have humiliated the student in front of classmates? Should I have abided on the strict university policy? What are the possible actions to take in such a situation? What should I have done?
I choose Feminist theory, Aristotelian virtue ethics, and Act Utilitarianism.
Act utilitarianism judges the individuals action by concerning itself forthrightly with the consequences of a person’s action whether the actions taken by an individual will result in bringing less harm or unhappiness to the other person. It mostly considers the interests of all parties involved in the case, in this cases the parties include; the student, the mother, the instructor, and the administration. It is more likely that the student, the mother and other students will be very unhappy or affected with the action of the instructor suppose he reports the cheating to the administration, and since he knows the situation in which the student is going through the instructor himself will not be happy for his actions as well, it seems that the administration will be the only happy party. Most probably when the inspector interrupts the student during the exam, the student will feel humiliated and with his current depression situation he may lose hope in life and even become more affected in his performance due to low self-esteem. The student feelings and reaction may also affect other students who may think that it was not worth reporting the cheating matter to the administration instead the instructor should have dealt with the case at the student instructor level since he knows the student much better and he is in the right position to handle the issue such that to ensure the student future is not destroyed. Therefore the act utilitarianism would judge that the inspector not interrupting the student and reporting the case is morally right since he understands the student’s conditions and their difficulties.
Aristotelian virtue ethics emphasizes on moral character and mainly on right and wrong actions. In order to understand the approach of virtue ethics in this situation then we need to put into consideration the virtues and vices that are relevant to it. It occupies the mean between extremes of excess and deficiency, the instructor should consider this in his situation. An argument by virtue ethicist is that it is excessive to obey orders no matter what and it is deficiency to disobey the orders just because one feels like disobeying them. The moral value in this theory is courage which according Aristotle lies between excesses rashness and cowardliness. one should challenge orders when he/she feels that it is not right to do certain things, orders should not be followed hastily and foolishly therefore the instructor should be able to judge personally what is the best way to go with the case at hand he is supposed to defy the order of reporting the student to the administration if necessary since this may lead to suspension or expulsion of the student who is bright despite his current condition. Even though the instructor does not show that defying the order is necessary but his decision of failing the student the test and let the matter go at that shows that he has the courage that his decision necessary and morally right. Compassion and care virtue also comes in, and while engaging in caring and being compassionate he should not be indulge in too much or too little it should be moderate. The instructor is being moderate by confronting the student after the exams and inducing punishment by failing the student in the test. Therefore virtue ethics would endorse the instructor not interrupting the student in exams and not reporting the case to the administration.
In Feminist theory perspective, understanding the contextual details of the situation is important so as to know the relationship between the involved parties. Feminists tend to opposes that is important to consider the interpersonal and institutional or professional relationship as well as general social and political relationships involved. It is possible that the community around the student’s family have been affected by the incidence that has faced the family, perhaps the mother is struggling to educate the student, while at school other students are sympathizing with their fellow student who is going through hard time after losing the father. Therefore incase the student is suspended the instructor will face the reactions directly from the community and the students as well and it is also important to understand that the instructor is not just a professional but a person and also a member of the community, on the other hand the student is also a person and a member of the community. The main obligation of the instructor is to serve and care for students than the administration, even though the administration still holds authority over the instructor it should not be unconditional such that the faculty can also be able to deal with some of the student’s issues before forwarding to the administration if necessary. They are also supposed to be trusted with their own judgement in deciding on how best to deal with majority of the student issues while the administration should deal with serious issues. According to the feminists defying the order is acceptable provided all things considered, and the moral reasons for doing so are stronger than the moral reasons not to do so. In this situation however, feminist does not judge whether the instructor should interrupt the student or report the student to the administration but it says that the instructor and the faculty should be allowed to make their own decision since they know the students much better and they have relevant professional expertise and experience. However it gives the insight on how the case and the issues should be dealt with.