fb

What’s the link between George Bush and the ACCA exams next month?

What’s the link between George Bush and the ACCA exams next month?

George W Bush is a controversial figure.  Two years after leaving office, his policies during his presidency of the United States still stir controversy, both within the USA and around the world.

He has just published his autobiography.  Perhaps surprisingly, he appears to be rather frank in his admission that he personally authorised the use of “water boarding” techniques, in which the subject believes themselves to be drowning.

Although no permanent physical damage occurs in this process, it’s designed to be traumatic. The current US president, Barak Obama has banned its use.

The justification given by the former president for authorising the use of torture was that he believed that the information extracted from the subjects of this process saved lives elsewhere.

We’re not commenting on whether we agree with this or not as an ethical standpoint.

For people taking an ethics exam, such as ACCA paper P1, this could be an interesting example of ethical stances and especially the difference between deontological and teleological (consequentialist ethics).

President Bush’s viewpoint is an example of utilitarian teleological ethics.

In teleological ethics, the rightness or wrongness of the action is assessed by investigating its consequences.  Utilitarianism looks at the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people.  So if great, but non-lethal, suffering of one person saves the life of another, it’s justifiable, even if the act itself may be repugnant to some people.

Compare that with deontological ethics and particularly the three maxims of Emmanuel Kant.

In deontological ethics, water boarding is probably never justifiable.

Deontology looks at the rightness or wrongness of the action itself, regardless of its consequences.  It would be possible to express a duty (“imperative”) if it passes the three maxims of Kant:

Consistency: Would it be possible for everybody to follow the rule of “no waterboarding”?  The answer here seems to be yes.

Respect for human dignity: Does the rule respect the dignity of others.  A no torture rule easily passes this test.

Universality: Would it be possible for somebody to understand that breaking the rule would bring the disapproval of society as a whole?  Again, the answer here is yes.  If torture were universally accepted as wrong, it would be possible for a violator of that rule to anticipate society’s disapproval.

There are no conclusions to this article.  It’s just pointing out an example of the two different ethical approaches and how we are each prone to prefer one over the other in different circumstances.

It could be a good example for people taking the P1 exam to use if asked to explain the differences in the deontological and teleological approaches to ethics.

Share this entry

Recent articles

View All Articles
Splashing marmalade all over?
Jul 11, 2024
Title
Splashing marmalade all over?
Excerpt

Imagine walking into a high-end boutique, expecting the usual scents of lavender and bergamot, only to be greeted […]

Miniature Models, Mega Profits…
Jun 30, 2024
Title
Miniature Models, Mega Profits…
Excerpt

Games Workshop, the iconic British company behind the Warhammer universe, recently demonstrated the profound impact of strategic communication […]

Swimming along nicely…
Jun 24, 2024
Title
Swimming along nicely…
Excerpt

Salmon, once a prized catch by skilled fishermen in cold, rushing rivers and coastal waters, has evolved into […]

You or your boss?
Jun 13, 2024
Title
You or your boss?
Excerpt

So, should you do it or should your boss do it? I’m talking about making decisions and the […]

A takeaway or a fakeaway?
Jun 06, 2024
Title
A takeaway or a fakeaway?
Excerpt

In the final run up to your professional exams it’s often a case of cramming your final revision […]

Peloton’s ride from pandemic peak to rental rebounds
May 30, 2024
Title
Peloton’s ride from pandemic peak to rental rebounds
Excerpt

Whilst home exercise bikes can be a great way to get fit, a lot of people who buy […]

Big 4 under the spotlight…
May 22, 2024
Title
Big 4 under the spotlight…
Excerpt

Recent findings have shown that Britain’s audit firms did not raise alarms for three-quarters of the major companies […]

Better than the professionals?
May 13, 2024
Title
Better than the professionals?
Excerpt

The landscape of investing is evolving, with the rise of retail, or “do-it-yourself” (DIY) investors who are achieving […]