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3e. Justice - Drama Club

Justice

How may the distribution affect the interests and needs of the recipients relative to one another?

Dilemma

Duty. The Drama Club staff coach, Ms. Smith, humbly accepted the cheers from the audience and the bouquets of flowers at the conclusion of the final night of the dramatic performance of Of Mice and Men. The announcement of this performance, the countless hours of rehearsals and the three-night performance schedule had exhausted her. There had been considerable outcry from a small vocal group of parents who objected to the use of coarse language in the script. Never-the-less, on this final night, the Superintendent praised Ms. Smith and the students for this highly professional rendition of Steinbach’s novel. He called Ms. Smith’s leadership an act of supererogation … she had done more than fulfilling her duty.

Rights. Many thoughts raced through Ms. Smith’s mind. But, they all came down to the issues she had faced as she defended putting on this production. Did she have a right to put on a production of this controversial novel which was on the curriculum? Was it her duty to defend this right? It may have been her right but was this the time and place to defend it? She hoped she had done the right thing.

Motive. Ms. Smith was less concerned about being a morally good person; she wanted to be a person who is actually doing what is right. As one of many role models for adolescents entrusted to her, she must resist the temptation to be selfish in her choice of drama productions.

Desert. To Ms. Smith’s surprise, The Superintendent announced that he wanted to show his support for the dedicated effort Ms. Smith had made in a tangible way. At that point, he presented her with an envelope which contained a check to cover the tuition for a summer course on High School Drama Productions. She had planned to register for the course. She had received an award for having gone beyond the call of duty as seen by the Superintendent.

Just. Realizing how other staff members might perceive this reward, the Superintendent went on to explain why he had approved this reward for Ms. Smith. He acknowledged the countless after school hours that Ms. Smith had committed to this production. Again, he stressed the superb and professional way in which this controversial novel had been presented. Last but not least, he drew attention to the controversy Ms. Smith had to address, namely the phone calls, meetings and quiet diplomacy that were required to respond to the concerns of some parents. The reward was given to a unique person in a unique situation.

Discussion

  • If Ms. Smith had not gone beyond the call of duty, should she have received an award? Explain.
  • Discuss other situations where people use this kind of straight thinking.
  • Discuss how each judgement ( duty, rights, motive, desert, justice) contributes to a more thorough understanding of a moral dilemma.

You may want to discuss other dilemmas.

Consider this view of ‘the interests of the recipients’

  • Crooked thinking

A distribution must never favor the needs or interests of one or some recipients over others.

  • Straight thinking

A distribution seems to be just or unjust from the point of view of the way in which it affects the interests of the recipients relative to one another. How may the distribution affect the interests and needs of the recipients (including those who should be considered as recipients) relative to one another? It can affect the recipients in one of three ways. First, it might be possible for a distribution not to favor one or some recipients over others. Second, the distribution might favor one or some recipients over others on the basis of sound principles or reasons. Third, the distribution might favor one or some recipients over others without a basis of sound principles or reasons.

Which of these characteristics must a distribution have in order for the distribution to be just? The first possibility (i.e., the distribution does not favor one or some recipients over others) does not involve the issue of justice or just distribution but involves the impartiality of the distributor which will be discussed later. The next two possibilities involve the issue of justice. A distribution must have the second characteristic for the distribution to be just. In other words, a distribution must favor the needs or interests of one or some recipients over others on the basis of sound principles or reasons. A distribution is unjust if it favors one or some recipients over others without sound principles or reasons. Whether, in fact, a distribution affects recipients as anticipated is a different matter. It should be kept in mind that what in fact happens must not be confused with anticipation.


Moral principle value tests

An application of the moral principle value tests probably illustrates most clearly what is entailed in evaluative reasoning. They are:

It is important to emphasize that the moral-value principle tests are not designed to resolve issues (guarantee right answers!) but to assess the ‘justification’ for moral value decisions.

To view the Dilemma from the perspective of Duty, Rights, Motives, Desert and Justice, click the following:

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