April 30, 2013
Occupy Wall Street Movement
The Occupy Wall Street Movement (WSM) has some ethical and economic implications as stated within their Declaration of Occupation: “As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.” (Radicals, 2013)
The economic implications in this statement are specifically defined by the lack of fairness in what they consider to be “The 99%” of the population that are not wealthy. The ethical situation is derived from being the majority of the population, but not having the majority rights to rule; emphasizing a distinct humanitarian variance between the people that should make the rules that govern equality, and those that actually do make those rules. Moral Implications
Attacking large cooperation’s, banks, and government WSM seemingly focuses on the moral value of equality amongst all except for the extremist. Ironically it is with what some might consider extremist actions that the WSM has partaken. Demonstrations and the occupying of public space, although mostly peaceful, could be looked at morally in different ways. On the one hand these people are making a stand for their beliefs, while on the other: what would they be doing if they were not making that stand on that particular day? Let us pretend that there were fifty city workers present at a certain demonstration. Those city workers were supposed to be cleaning up a backed up sewer line. Since they were not at work that day, a local hospital’s sewage drain was clogged and many other local residents had the same problem. The moral implication here is that the consequential better good for those workers (i.e. society and governmental change) outweighed the needs of the city for that day.
This moral implication is suited to an external factor. While the WSM website states many other ethical concerns about large government and corporations they do father in utilitarian, Kantian, and virtuous ethics. The Utilitarian Principle
The utilitarian principle is a doctrine that states, “We should always act on to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions (Shaw, 2010, p. 53)”. The above noted example is to a degree, a contributor to this principle because the greater need for an equal world society overshadowed the needs for the cities sanitation in the thoughts of those workers attending the demonstration. This is not a stretch of the ethical dilemma of those workers to go to work or not, but instead a foresight that attendance at this demonstration proved that even the lowly blue collar civil worker has some form of power to affect the good of many over the needs of a relative few. Each one of the listed unethical circumstances listed in figure 1.1 (found on page 8) has degradation of the human species written all over it if something is not done to prevent further corruption. In terms of the cooperation’s and governments that the partial list references, there is a strong implied statement of ethical egoism. Ethical egoism “…is the consequentialist theory that an action is right if and only if it promotes the individuals best interests (Shaw, 2010, p. 53)”. However, one must not forget that it is that same force that drove the company to become large enough to employ workers, and it’s with that employment that workers might obtain happiness.
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