Police Chief Actions
The police chief is responsible for maintaining law and order. After placing the suspect in custody, he needs to ask the mob to consider his role as the custodian of the law. If he lets it lynch him, then his position as the police chief will come under threat. As a result, the police chief needs to ask the mob to allow him to do his job as the law’s primary custodian and punish the suspect accordingly.
Moral Theorists’ Approach to the Issue
The Ethical Relativist: The ethical relativist theory claims that moral decisions should be based on the norms practiced in a culture. As a result, a society should be able to judge right or wrong depending on the morals of that society. Additionally, according to the theory, the action may be right in one society and morally wrong in the other and vice versa. In the case of the suspected murder, the ethical relativist will allow the mob to lynch the suspect since, according to this society, it is morally right to lynch a suspected murderer.
Ethical Egoist: The ethical egoism theory asserts that moral agents have a responsibility of acting in their self-interests. In the case of the suspected murderer, the chief will inform the crowd that as the chief and the society’s moral agent, it will be improper to let the mob lynch the suspected murderer or harm his family. To protect his interests as the moral agent, he will inform the mob that he desires to investigate the issue, and if found guilty, he will let the mob act as it wishes.
The Divine Command Theory: An agent of the divine command theory will argue that morality depends on God. The agent will further explain that all actions and deeds need to have a moral basis, and the moral basis should be connected to God’s commandments. With one of the commandments warning against killing, the agent will ask the mob to consider lynching the suspect or his family and friends as a moral wrong and instead choose an alternative avenue to punish him.
The Utilitarian: Utilitarianism argues that moral good produces a good for the greatest number. In other words, a moral good must satisfy the needs of a greater number regardless of its consequences. In the murder case, lynching the suspect will produce the greatest good to the mob compared to sparing his life which will anger them. An agent of this theory will allow the mob to lynch the suspect even if innocent.
The Deontologist: Deontological ethics determines if an action is right or wrong depending on a set of rules. As a result, all actions and decisions must respect the set of rules. In this case, the deontologist will point out that no society allows lynching, and instead, every society must follow its rules when judging immoral behaviors. The agent will not allow the mob to lynch the suspect but ask it to follow the set rules in their society.
The Virtue Ethicist: This theory claims that individuals should act with honesty and morality and supports good deeds such as generosity and upright morality to uphold the virtuous person. In the case of the murder suspect, the virtue ethicist will ask the mob to act morally upright and consider the morality of their actions. In other words, the virtue ethicist will require the mob to consider sparing the suspect’s life since it is morally wrong to kill.
Me: In this case, I will require the mob to establish the basis of their allegations and ask it to produce evidence in support of their assertions. If it defends its allegations successfully, I will let it have its will. Otherwise, I will ask it to let the law take its course.