Shooting of Henry Glover in New Orleans after Horror of Katrina remains one of the most infamous cases of police brutality against African Americans. Apart from raising numerous legal issues, the case of police brutality in New Orleans, regardless of having happened back in 2005 (Crawford, 2012), is still vividly discusses from an ethical standpoint. The theoretical lens of ethical egoism might be helpful in terms of acquiring a new perspective on the issue. Ethical egoism argues that ethical actions are those actions that are motivated by an agent’s own self-interests (Burgess-Jackson, 2013).
In the meantime, the incidental beneficial, detrimental, or neutral effect that these actions might have on other people should not be taking into account when making an ethical decision (Gantt & Burton, 2013). Applying this theory to the case of police brutality in New Orleans, it is important to mention that a police officer is responsible for the protection of people and private property in situations defined by law. There are very few instances that allow a police officer to use weapons against people they are supposed to protect. Shooting an unarmed civilian who is standing on the balcony of a mall without a warning (Associated) is prohibited by law.
Such a serious disobedience to the rule of law will eventually lead huge reputational, economic, and professional losses, and might result in incarceration. From this point of view, shooting Henry Glover was acting in discordance with the interests of a police officer, as it did not benefit the doer, but put him at risk. Thus, through the lens of the theory, the behavior of police officers was unethical. As seen from the above, even such seemingly ‘unethical’ theories as ethical egoism define violence and brutality as ‘wrong’, because they will eventually negatively affect the agent.
- Associated, P. (4). Ex-cops sentenced in New Orleans shootings. Washington Post, The.
- Crawford, M. D. (2012). Black Rage in New Orleans: Police Brutality and African American Activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina. Western Journal Of Black Studies, 36(3), 249-250.
- Burgess-Jackson, K. (2013). Taking Egoism Seriously. Ethical Theory & Moral Practice, 16(3), 529-542.
- Gantt, E. E., & Burton, J. (2013). Egoism, Altruism, and the Ethical Foundations of Personhood. Journal Of Humanistic Psychology, 53(4), 438-460.