The New York Times headline is “How a Dog’s Killing Turned Brooklyn Progressives Against One Another.”
It begins with this opening, which is raw meat tor an ethics blogger:
Real-world ethics question: In a well-used city park, a man with a history of erratic behavior attacks a dog and its owner with a stick; five days later, the dog dies. The man is Black, the dog owner white; the adjoining neighborhood is famously progressive, often critical of the police and jail system. At the same time, crime is up in the neighborhood, with attacks by emotionally disturbed people around the city putting some residents on edge.
In a dog-loving, progressive enclave, where pushing law and order can clash with calls for social justice, what’s the right thing to do? How do you protect the public without furthering injustice against this man?
Well, let’s start with the point that if an ethics question isn’t “real world,” then it’s useless, or at best a waste of time. Ethics is the process of figuring out what the right thing to do is in possible situations that require balancing, prioritizing, and maintaining societal standards and principles without which civilization devolves into chaos. The first question shows flawed ethical analysis from the outset: “In a dog-loving, progressive enclave, where pushing law and order can clash with calls for social justice, what’s the right thing to do?” The right thing to do isn’t affected by how dog-loving the community may be, or what attitudes toward law enforcement and social justice may be. Attitudes, like biases, don’t alter the ethics rules, they just affect whether the results of applying them are popular.