Ethics in Social Justice
Many social workers, psychologists and people who work for child and family services return to school to pursue criminal justice degrees. Seeing the harsh realities of the world shows many of the people working these jobs that our society still has progress to make. Today’s counselor may change careers tomorrow so that they may make an even more lasting impact on the world: preserving social justice. The start to this life-changing shift is attendance at a criminal justice school or an organization that offers a bachelors in criminal justice.
Social justice is a concept based on collective ethics. The common perception of the world in the United States is that all persons are created equal and should be granted the same rights and freedoms. We also believe in equal opportunity employment and the privilege of education for all regardless of their gender, race, age or religious beliefs. Our laws reflect these perceptions, but they are ever-changing. People often overlook the fact that women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920. Up until 1964, parts of the country also maintained separate-but-equal segregation, deeming it not only fair but rational. Even today, there are equality issues that are in contest. These issues stem from when large groups or demographics of people disagree about the legitimacy of a certain group’s appeal. They may feel that the interests of one party may have a negative impact on the population as a whole. The individuals who work to solve these discrepancies are part of a career field called criminal justice.
People are often under the misconception that a career in social justice means being a lawyer. Indeed many individuals choose to use a bachelors in criminal justice as a prerequisite to law school, but there are countless other options available. In fact, social justice is a rather expansive field that covers a wide variety of employment options. Of course, anyone with a strong drive to grow beyond the entry level positions could, and should invest in a criminal justice school to gain the proper knowledge and experience. The courses you will encounter when pursuing a bachelors in criminal justice should teach you about legal framework and will help you develop research and writing skills as they will pertain to the field. It is recommended that you attempt to determine the specific social justice career you would like to pursue by the end of your second year so that you may choose elective courses that are specifically tailored to that position. Instead of attending classes and spending face-to-face time with a professor, it is also possible to achieve an online criminal justice degree that you can learn on your own time for less investment.
One of the major concepts that is explored when studying social justice is consequentialism. Consequentialism is a collection of theories that maintains “good” outcomes will result from morally just acts. Likewise, someone who commits wrongful acts must reap a negative consequence. Consequentialism is controversial because it is, in ways, contradictory. It suggests that someone with morality will act in ways they believe will produce an outcome that is “right.” However, what one person believes to be right might be detrimental to others. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor may be done with the purest intention, but it conflicts with someone’s natural right to their own property. What is the appropriate response in this situation? The answer is not for the individual to decide. Consequentialism also focuses solely on consequence, not circumstance, which is a factor that many people believe should be considered as part of judgment.
The most popular form of consequentialism is utilitarianism. This idea rejects rules and even laws that interfere with the decision that causes the greatest amount of pleasure or contentment for the largest amount of people. In the aforementioned example, the thief who stole from the rich person would be in the right because the stolen goods would go to the benefit of many rather than the few. Morals themselves are of no concern to the utilitarian. They are merely general guidelines or “rules of thumb” that can be used as a basis, but not a reason for an action. The generally accepted view that “killing is wrong” is void when the killing is made to save or protect a number of others. War and violent conflict between nations is often seen as a very utilitarian concept. You should become familiar with utilitarianism when studying at a criminal justice school or while earning an online criminal justice degree.
• Ethics & law Enforcement: An article discussing the role of ethics in law enforcement.
• Experts See Room For Improvement In Criminal Justice System: Information from a panel discussing how to improve the criminal justice system.
• Understanding Conflict and War: How are war and social justice interrelated?
• Legal Careers in Social Justice: Tips for pursuing a social justice education and where to take it.