Ethics is a critical aspect in society, as it serves as the foundation of social order. This comprises those aspects, including principles, which help in development of an ethical culture in society. Therefore, individuals and different organs in society must possess distinct values, standards, and rules, which are essential for a harmonious living. The case of Wilson presents to us an individual, who strongly embraces ethics, and lets nothing compromise his ethical standing. He goes to Niger to investigate a rather controversial issue between the USA and Iraq. However, he does not take sides with his country, the USA, in its conspiracy. Although the President releases a statement Wilson’s investigation, these are contrary to Wilson’s findings. Wilson does not accept the president’s misinterpretation of the findings. He therefore, goes ahead to publish his own account of the investigation, making it available to the public. This therefore, conflicts with Bush’s statement. Wilson was courageous and stood for the truth, not letting anything to compromise his truth. He refused to sit back and watch how the truth was being violated publicly. Therefore, he acted.
By coming out publicly to make the truth available to the people, through publishing this article, I compare Wilson to the philosopher W.D, Ross, who developed a moral system called “intuitionist,” which claims that individuals are inherently aware of their moral obligations (Plaisance 10). Therefore, when Wilson came out fearlessly and published the article, no one had forced him to do so. Deep down, he knew he had the responsibility of performing his moral duties. Ross’ philosophy also holds that a person has a responsibility of honoring their moral standards and principles (Plaisance 10). Therefore, one of Wilson’s moral values must have been truthfulness, which is why he had to honor it by publishing the article to bring out the truth. In this philosophy, Ross also believed that the moral values one must honor include fidelity, justice, not harming others, and self-improvement (Plaisance 10). The values of fidelity, justice, and not harming others coincide with Wilson’s actions. He was against Bush’s propaganda of war with Iraq, since he knew this would cause harm to the Iraqis, as well as the US soldiers, who would die in the war. Wilson upholds justice, because he did not want the USA government to accuse Iraq falsely. Finally, he shows fidelity when he investigates the case, presents truthful findings, and ensures false statements do not blind the public, when he publishes the article. To him, justice was more important than beneficence, just as Ross held in this philosophy. Finally, Wilson wanted to avoid a conflict between Iraq, USA, and Niger, when he insisted on the truth. This is also the goal of Ross’ theory, avoiding moral conflicts (Plaisance 10).
Wilson was courageous and fearless when he wrote the article. If I were in Wilson’s position, I would have made quite different decisions, even though I hold the same beliefs as his, about ethics. First, instead of publishing the article, I would have only told the truth, if any interested person asked me. However, I would not have come out openly to deny what the president said to the people. I consider this case too sensitive to come out voluntarily in public and present different statements, which counter the president’s statements. However, I would face the CIA over the misrepresentation of my findings, since this is the body responsible for doctoring my findings.
Unlike Wilson, who adopted the philosophy of Ross in his case, I would adopt Aristotle’s philosophy. Although this philosophy is based on intellectual and moral virtues, Aristotle addressed a concept referred to as the “golden mean” or the “Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean,” which means “. . . balancing between two extremes of excess or deficiency” (Plaisance 7). According to Aristotle, the extremes might sometimes turn out to be dangerous. If an individual is torn between two decisions, which are both extreme, Aristotle believed that it is more virtuous not to rush into any of the extreme decisions. Instead, one should consider settling for a middle ground. Therefore, an intermediary position could be relevant in this situation. In my case, my not coming out publicly to present the truth does not make me a liar. Therefore, this would put me at an intermediate point, between a liar and a person who tells the truth.
I consider Wilson to have taken an extreme position by coming out publicly to counter the president’s statement. Wilson was faced with two extreme decisions. First was countering the lies propagated on his findings, and secondly, publicly admitting to the lies doctored on his findings. By choosing the first extreme, Wilson exposed himself to different types of risks, even though he was the one on the right. In my case therefore, I would be safe from risks. Wilson could lose his job for countering the government, among other risks. Therefore, in my case, I would not have chosen any of the two extreme decisions. Therefore, none of my actions would portray me as countering the government in any way. However, I would have addressed the issue with CIA, making them know that I disapprove their actions, thus, making me come out clean. In this philosophy, Aristotle emphasized that the intermediate is virtuous, and not a vice. Therefore, when faced with a dilemma of choosing between two extremes, one should settle for a choice, which still upholds truthfulness, and which will not make the person appear more important or one that will tear someone down, including their dignity.
Plaisance, Patrick. Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice. New York: SAGE
Publications Inc, 2008.
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