Relativism and Objectivism in the Criminal Justice Community – Essay Sample

Relativism and Objectivism in the Criminal Justice Community – Essay Sample

In the discussion of moral objectivism and moral relativism, it is important to understand the difference, and the impact that a moral system has on the criminal justice community. The community exists to enforce the laws. Moral judgments are made with votes, and the decisions on how laws are crafted are made by elected officials. For this reason, it makes sense for the criminal justice community to separate themselves professionally from their own moral views.

Moral Relativism is the view of morality, much like beauty, is relative to the person, culture, or organization. This is because of moral relativism’s take on ethical dilemmas, and the view that there are a number of disagreements among people as to the nature of morality. An act can be seen as both moral and immoral, depending on the perspective at which it is judged.

The strength of this form of moral judgment is that it gives equal evaluation to the views of various perspectives. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a relativistic view of morality provides a more tolerant and understanding worldview, in which people are encouraged to view an act from the perspective of the actor (Gowans 2011). The observer may have his or her own moral views, but does not judge the moral actions of others because he or she believes that morality is relative. Instead, the criminal justice community will, ideally, uphold the law, ignoring personal moral beliefs.

This may be useful from the perspective of Criminal Justice. Law enforcement officers and others in the system are expected to uphold the law and apply it free of personal moral beliefs. Moral relativism allows them to remove personal beliefs from the equation altogether, and judge based only on the law. In an ideal situation, the law will be administered as it is written, with moral judgments taking place at the legislative level, and not the enforcement level of lawmaking.

As a moral system, ethical universalism is opposed to moral relativism, in that it is the belief that there is a correct ethical system. In a sense, ethical universalism is the belief that a specific ethical belief system is the correct one, and that acting in a manner that is inconsistent with that system is, necessarily, immoral. This system could be one of many.

According to the article titled Ethical Universalism and Particularism, by Alan Gewirth, the main problem with ethical universalism’s practice is that it often comes in to conflict with the beliefs of others about the nature of morality (Gerwin, 285). For people who work in criminal justice, the law may even conflict with a chosen moral system. This could be true if a person bases his or her beliefs on the moral teaches of a religion or other system.

In a sense, the belief in a universal system of morals implies the application of a personal morality to the enforcement of the law. If the goal is to minimize the personal morality of the official, then a system of moral universalism would be deficient as an officer would be less capable of bringing his or her own personal morality in to official business. He or she would judge that the offender is immoral in some way and, therefore, make a personal judgment that is separate from the law.

For these reasons, I believe that moral relativism is ideal for those who work in the field of criminal justice. The law, as it stands, is to be enforced free from the moral judgments of the criminal justice community. A community that bases its morality on personal experience and does not pass judgment on the morality of an offender is a more professional force than a group of people with varying moral views who are tempted to apply a personal system to the enforcement of the law.

Of course, this is not to say that the system can not function with both types of people. Certainly, a number of moral objectivists can maintain professionalism. However, in an ideal situation, it would never be the case that a person in the criminal justice field is forced to choose between his or her own morals, and enforcement of the law. Therefore, moral relativism is more ideal for the field than ethical objectivism.





The road to success is easy with a little help. Let's get your assignment out of the way.