Ethical blind-spots are defined as the lack of understanding of ethical issues. This is a common occurrence especially because people tend to think they always stand up for what they believe in and have strong principles, but most of the time, they are unable to do so. Some common everyday instances of ethical blind spots include selling defective merchandise to corruption in different industries. Lawyers, in the court of law, come across such situations, where it is essential to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of their clients, and at the same time, are to follow highest standards of ethics.
This paper outlines a common blind spot, racism and theories surrounding it. It also describes, in detail, about Immanuel Kant’s theory of Kantian ethics.
Racism is one of the ethical issues that an individual may not understand. Racism is defined as the attribution of characteristics as well as abilities to people on racial basis where some races are considered superior to others (Deveson, 1987, Pg. 67). Racism has been a source of conflicts and wars in many parts of the world since it leads to discrimination of some races usually on the basis of their ethnic or culture. Racism is an ethical blind spot to many since they are not aware of the consequences that accompany its practice.
There are any disadvantages of racism some of them being the prevention of free and equal rights in the society, a certain race being thought of negatively and the stress that develops among the people subjected to racism (Memmi, 2000, Pg. 11). There is also the mistreatment of a certain group of people leading to time wastage when the victims try to defend themselves while violence may erupt due to the aggressive language. Kantian ethics is one of the ethical theories that could be used to correct this blind-spot.
Kantian ethics is an ethical theory proposed by Immanuel Kant who was a philosopher from Germany. In the theory, the rightness of an action as well as its wrongness are said not to depend on the consequences but rather on whether they lead to the fulfillment of the duty at stake. According to Kant, every individual has a duty to act in amoral way while following the moral law. If every person in the society understood that it is their duty to act morally, ethical issues such as racism would not bepresent as there would be mutual respect of every individual’s race.
No single race would also be considered superior to the other since this would be against the moral law. The theory also states that every individual should be seeking an ultimate end which Kant referred to as the “supreme good or summumbonum.” (Johnson, 2011, Pg. 36) If individuals in the society lived in the said state, they would be united and would live in happiness. This is because the conflict that arises from the discrimination of some individuals on the basis of their race would be avoided hence the happiness suggested in this theory.
The theory further states that it is the duty if every individual to take u their roles and duties in the society since it is the duty of every individual to do so. Kant says that racism is an idea and an attitude as well where he claims that the white race is considered superior to other races. According to Kant, it is not appropriate for a certain race to be discriminated or deemed as less of human and this if applied in the racism blind-spot would give significant results. This is because if everybody values the race and ethical background of the other person, there would be no differences on racial basis which would provide a peaceful environment in which people can enjoy living (Teale, 1951, Pg. 78). The theory also argues that the motivation of an individual’s actions is the one that determines whether the person is good or bad. The motivation referred to is the reason why an action was taken by the person. According to the theory, one is considered good if they are motivated by morality.
Methods to minimize racism:
The blind-spot of racism can be minimized if everybody is driven by moral motives since there would be no discrimination of any race. The reason why Kant claims that the consequences do not matter is because one may not be lucky hence making errors after an action while others may be lucky enough that nothing wrong comes their way. In the theory, Kant claims that if two individuals have done a wrong action, the consequences of their action should not be used as a basis for judging their actions (Johnson, 2011, Pg. 57).
Kant uses an example of two people who were together drinking and after, each of them decided to drive home though very drunk. He says that each of them uses a different route. On the way one of the drunk drivers encounters no one on the road and as a result does not cause any accident despite the fact that he is equally drunk like the other individual. On the other hand, the other person happens not to be luck enough and encounters someone on the road walking home at night. Accidentally, the drunk driver hits the pedestrian with his car and kills him on the spot.
The theory states that both drivers were equally bad and their actions too the only difference is that one of them was lucky while the other was not.This incident teaches a lot in the control of the moral ethics in the society including racism since it discourages the actions that may have negative impacts on people’s lives.
As a result, it discourages racism since it leads to conflicts and disputes due to the discrimination that occurs. By so doingevery individual would enjoy living in the society and there would be more cooperation of people from different races as well as different ethical backgrounds (Deveson, 1987, Pg. 78).
In conclusion, the Kantian ethics theory could be of great help if used in the correction of racism as a blind-spot. The values suggested in the theory would help the individuals in the society to behave morally and keep way from immoral behavior by discouraging non ethical practices like racism.
The field of behavioral ethics is rising and increased awareness of the same will help people recognise ethical blind spots and overcome them for the improvement of the society.
Declaration and Programme of Action to Combat Rasicm and Racial Discrimination. (1979). New York: United Nations.
Deveson, R. (1987). Inside Nazi Germany: conformity, opposition, and rasicm in everyday life. New Haven [u.a.: Yale Univ. Press.
Johnson, R. N. (2011). Self-improvement: an essay in Kantian ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Memmi, A. (2000). Racism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Teale, A. E. (1951). Kantian ethics. London: Oxford University Press.
Teale, A. E. (1975). Kantian ethics. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Wood, A. W. (2008). Kantian ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Johnson, 2011, Pg. 36)