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    Question of ethics under oath

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    You are an expert security software programmer who works in top secret for the national government of the country of Zulu. Late on afternoon, you come across an ominous email in which you learn that a small group of sinister government officials from Zulu plan-in exactly one hour-to unleash a nuclear attack on the neighboring country of Delta. This same group of four government officials are at odds with the neighboring country because of vastly different political and economic views. The bottom line? You are aware that if this missile is launched, the event will spawn World War III.

    Because you are the only person in the country of Zulu who has knowledge of the specific program code that will be used to trigger this devastating missile launch, you alone are the one individual who has the capacity to de-program the event--i.e. you could choose to cancel the launch altogether, or you could otherwise divert the nuclear missilet o a neutral zone. In short, millions of innocent lives are now in your hands.

    However, you are a strict deontologist. On the day that you assumed your role as a top-secret national security programmer, you took a solemn oath swearing that you would never intervene in any government action, no matter its consequences. In short, your duty is limited to software programming and to programming alone. Indeed, your oath entails that you have an explicit duty never to make a decision that extends beyond your software programming role. Moreover, you are sworn never to discuss your programs with other human being-except for communication that may be required with a limited number of superiors. On any given day, these few superiors of yours are easily found somewhere in the building. But alas!...on this day, you are unable to find even one superior for advice (are they perhaps bound and gagged somewhere in this massive building?)

    What would a strict deontologist do? Why?
    To whom or to what is your duty? This is not an easy question (which makes philosophy so much fun)
    What would Immanual Kant's Categorical Imperative suggest you do here?
    In this situation, would a strict deontologist be at odds with the thinking of Immanuel Kant? Explain

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    Immanual Kant wrote his theories in the Critique of Moral Reason and Grounding of Morals which outlines his theory of deontology. The following are some principles that his theories are based on. It is a brief outline and I hope will assist in understanding his theories. The application to the situation follows this section.


    Metaphysics of Morality
    Ethics is founded on duties and obligations before experience or actions. Ethics are bounded by principles and laws that obligate certain actions. Ethics is founded on values and duties that are founded on principles and not on experiences like pleasure or pain. It is before actions and not after actions.
    Ethics are founded on the independent will of a person to choose a duty or obligation based on reason and rational conditions of duty and obligations. Kant's ethics are based on the following principles.

    First Principle: Good Will
    The first principle is that a person's good will is based on decisions of moral worth and based on moral principles that obligate that person to act out of duty.
    Duty is any actions based on obligation to moral law that is done without consideration to pleasure, personal convenience, personal emotions, or happiness. Duty requires sacrifice, suffering and sometimes pain to fulfill the obligations of the moral law.
    The good will cannot be conditioned by any other ends or decisions either based on selfish reasons, emotional reasons, and reasons based on happiness or pleasure. These conditions are not moral because they are based on other things besides moral law. The good will must act according to the moral law under any circumstances.

    Second Principle: Duty is based on Moral Law:
    The second principle is that we are rational agents that act with respect to moral law. Through the use of reason, man has created moral laws, social laws and legal laws that have moral worth for rational agents.
    The good will acts with respect to the moral law that is created by reason which then prescribes the duty or obligation to respect that law and fulfill that law no matter what. The fact that the civic, moral law, and the social law is founded on reason which means that they apply to all rational agents and it is a universal reason, then the person needs to follow it out of respect to the duty of the moral law.

    Third Principle: The Law is created by the Categorical and Hypothetical Imperative.
    Categorical imperative is the principle for creating moral laws. Categorical means it applies to all situations and all rational beings. Imperative means a command to perform something. The categorical imperative is to act in such a way that your action can become a maxim that can apply to all circumstances and all rational agents or become a universal law. The maxim (moral principle) is based on reason so that any action is decided rationally; it operates in a rational world and you rationally will the maxim so that it becomes morally permissible.
    Perfect and imperfect imperatives: The first is imperatives or commands that relate to one's self which is perfect imperatives. A perfect imperative is an act that does not contradict itself. So one can will a maxim that when applied universally will not contradict itself. For instance, self-preservation is a maxim that will not contradict itself because all rational agents want to preserve themselves. Imperfect imperative are commands that contradict itself. If a person feels morally obligated to commit suicide but if we make it a universal law, it will destroy the community of rational beings.

    Fourth Principle: Humanity:
    Out of the categorical imperatives come the principle of humanity which states that we act in such a way that we treat all humanity and rational agents as an ends and never as a means because of the moral worth of persons. We ...

    Solution Summary

    The ethics under oath are provided. What the Immanual Kant's categorical imperative suggest is given.