Morality Discussion

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Please discuss what the best solution to the following dilemma is.    This will require multiple posts and discussion with your teammates.  Include reasons for the decision and factors of the situation that are particularly important in making the decision.   Work with the situation as given.  Do not assume any particular legal system.  (This is a morality debate, not a law debate.) 

Officer Jones is called to investigate a party where neighbors have complained of the noise.    When he arrives he realizes that most of the partygoers appear to be high as kites.   He recognizes a suspected drug dealer whose street reputation implicates him in several deaths of teens by adding dangerous impurities to drugs so that more hits can be sold with the same amount of pure drugs. Some of the impurities trigger violence, others panic, heart failure or suicide.     The police are positive of this but have never been able to prove it (hearsay is not admissible in court). He knows that an immediate search will find many doses on the dealer as well as large amounts of cash.   He also knows from prior experience that if he waits for a legal warrant he will find nothing.   He and his partner just attended a training in which they were provided with a realistic generic “search warrant”.   The host of the party is wasted enough to fall for it and he knows he can get a past dated warrant from a friend if he finds what he knows is present.   If he is incorrect the host is unlikely to even recall the search.  The original complaint allows him to end the party but does not permit a search.  He can do sobriety tests on the drivers of vehicles but if the dealer is not the driver no search can be conducted.  The dealer knows this. Without searching he lacks grounds to detain or arrest anyone.  This may be the only chance to stop a dangerous and deadly drug dealer and save the lives of numerous teens.  On the other hand, if he is caught he could lose his job, leaving his family without his income.  He might even be sent to jail.  If that were to occur his life could be in danger from criminals who hold grudges against him.  What should the officers do?   Why?


Wrap-up Instructions: Do this part ONLY after completing a real discussion to the first part of the activity.

Now that you have discussed your group’s scenario please evaluate your responses based on Kohlberg’s theory.   Remember it is the level of your own moral thinking not the morality of the characters in the scenario that you are to assess.   (If you are confused, look in the textbook where an example is given using a different scenario, the Heinz dilemma.)   Be sure to discuss what factors influenced your thinking.   After all, it is not your decision but what influenced it that matters in Kohlberg’s theory. Some students find aspects of more than one stage.   That is fine too.


Many psychologists point out that in real rather than hypothetical dilemmas emotions and practicality matter as much as cognition.   Do you agree?   If you were in a position where the “right” thing to do might cost you your job would you do it?   Would the number of people depending on your income matter in your decision? How about the degree of helplessness of those depending on your job (children as opposed to adults who might get a job and help out)?   Would the state of the economy and ease of finding another job matter?   What if the “moral” thing to do was not legal?    Would the risk of punishment and type of punishment influence you?   Punishment orientation is not high level but does it influence us? What really influences moral behavior?   Is it the same as moral cognition or development?

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