final exam christian ethics class
case carefully and then respond to the following questions in relation to the
case to determine what a Christian ethical response is and why. Be detailed in your response and utilize
concepts discussed within the course to support your points.
Relations and Duties:
What are the various roles and relationships in which the central characters in
this case find themselves? How do these
roles and relationships connect or tie these persons to other persons or groups
of persons? As a result of all these
differing roles and relationships, what are some of the various moral duties
the people in this case have to one another and other persons and/or
groups? Are some of these duties more
important than others? Which are the
Virtues: What kinds of persons would the people in this case need
to be in order to recognize and fulfill the various moral duties and challenges
facing them here? What are some virtues,
attitudes, affections and loyalties they would need to behave as authentic
What is the basic or central choice confronting the people in this case? What are some of the conflicting values or
goods that the people in this case will need to make choices about? Are there competing duties that the people in
this case have to each other or other persons or groups?
Seek Counsel: What moral wisdom or insight can we gain about the
choice(s) to be made from the voices of experience, Scripture and
tradition? What persons or resources
would be most useful in discovering what these various fonts of wisdom have to
tell us about the issues or choices in this case?
Formulating a Christian Response: What might be some
basic convictions that the Christian perspective brings to the central choice
or issue in this case? What are some
hard questions that need to be answered regarding this choice?
there some social sins embedded in this case? Are there any social ills or injustices, any shared ways of thinking or
acting that are contributing to the problems in t his case or making it harder
for the people here to make good choices and behave well?
sorts of social practices or beliefs might need to be changed to make the
structures and institutions discussed in this case more just, more
Christian? What kins of reforms are
needed on the institutional or societal level? Why?
Case 1: Jails for Jobs
On a warm autumn evening State Senator
Ellen Costanza is sitting in her office listening to Bob Hughes, her campaign
manager, and she is not happy. Just a
month away from the close of a very tight race for reelection, Ellen?s marginal
lead is evaporating. Bob warns her that
unless she does something significant in the next few weeks she can forget a
second term, and all the good she might have accomplished as a newly appointed
member of three important senate committees.
The something significant Bob has in
mind is SR 375, a new piece of anti-crime legislation pending before the
senate. Calling for tougher sanction and
mandatory minimum sentences for a broad range of felonies, SR 375 also includes
$780 million for the construction of several new correctional facilities and an additional $120 million to
help put three to five thousand more police officers on the streets.
Bob is convinced that coming out in
support of this legislations is, at present, about the only way to save the election.
?Ellen, this bill is just what the
doctor ordered. First, by supporting it
you show the voters and the media that even with your opposition to the death
penalty, you are still tough on crime. In an instant our challenger?s number one issue evaporates, and that
?law and order? prosecutor from downstate has to start talking about jobs and
education, topics you can beat him on any day of the week. Second, this bill means jobs, and I mean good
jobs, for our district. We may not be in
the ?rust belt,? but in the last two decades we?ve lost thousands of high
paying factory jobs to overseas plants and seen two military installations
close up shop. Todd Meyers, the bill?s
main sponsor and the chair of the allocations committee, has made it clear he wants
you on board and that if you give him
lots of support before the election, then one of those new prisons will be
built in our district. That?s going to
mean a lot of work for a lot of folks – steady, long term work with pensions
and health care.?
?Now Ellen, I know you have some
concerns about building more prisons. But you want the government to do more about domestic violence and to
put pressure on deadbeat dads. Well,
sometimes people have to be put in jail to make them see the light or to protect
other folks from their violence. And
finally, making a compromise here means you get to do a lot of good work toward
education, housing, and aid to farmers. Do you think our challenger is going to do any of that if we just roll
over and let him win??
Perhaps. Perhaps this legislation would save her
campaign and allow her to do real good. Certainly bringing thousands of high paying jobs to her district would
help a lot of folks. But is SR 375
really a good idea? True, Ellen?s state
does have a high rate of violent crime, though not as high as it was in the
early ?90?s, and a lot of people do need to be punished for their offenses,
particularly when they are violent. But
does that mean that minimum mandatory sentences are a good idea or that we ought
to address overcrowding in our burgeoning prison system by building more and
bigger prisons? Will putting more police
on the streets really help? How much? Are there other alternatives that might be
more effective, or humane?
And just what will happen in her
district in five or ten years when hundreds and then thousands of these
criminals, most of them from downstate, are released from jail? How many will settle in the local community
and what sorts of problems will they bring to the area? Will there be a ?crime leak? from the local
prison, contaminating neighborhoods and towns in the area?
And if the state spends $900 million on
this piece of anti-crime legislations, what sorts of programs will be cut to
pay for new prisons and police? Will the
money come out of education, housing, health care? Should Ellen put her signature on this
bill? Should she be one of the swing
votes to push it over the top?
Sitting there in her office with Bob,
Ellen is pretty sure she?s going to have to think long and hard about
this. Bob, on the other hand, is certain
she only has a few weeks to decide.
Case 2: Health Benefits: ?It?s Not My
?Jennie, I appreciate what Father Ralph
told you in that class on Catholic social thought, and I believe in workers? rights
as much as the next guy. Heck, my dad
and Uncle Pete were in the union for forty years, and I paid union dues for six
years while I was working in a machinist?s shop and going to night school at
?But, I?m here to tell you that as the
owner of a small business I have no legal obligation to pay for health
insurance for my employees. And, given
the stiff competition I face and my razor-thin profit margin, there is just no
way I can provide coverage for the unskilled women working for my cleaning
service, at least not if I am going to pay tuition at a Catholic college where
you and your brother can learn about social justice and preferential option for
?I pay worker?s compensation and social
security, and two dollars over minimum wage. And I give these folks two weeks? paid vacation and a full hour for
lunch, which is better than they would get at most of the other services in
town. What?s more, I give everyone who
works for me a bonus at Christmas. If I
paid for health coverage for my employees I would probably have to go out of
business. We would certainly have to
make significant changes in our lifestyle.?
?I appreciate that Dad,? Jennie
responds, ?and I get it that it?s not your job alone to carry this burden. But the priests at that Catholic college you
and Mom were so eager for me and Mike to attend say that folks have a basic
right to health care. It?s like their
right to life, liberty, and freedom of religion. And they say – heck the pope says – that our
society has a moral duty to provide for that right. Health care?s not just a ?benefit,? it?s a
right. But at present more than forty
million Americans don?t have health-care coverage, and a huge percentage of
those folks are working-class women and men just like your employees.?
?Now, we are the only industrialized
Western country without universal health care, in large part because lots of
folks like you and Uncle Joe – who haven?t belonged to a union in years – say
we shouldn?t have big government or that the free market is the way to take
care of things. Well, the free market
and competition have got you squeezed so tight you can?t provide the basic sort
of health care coverage for you workers that your dad and uncle fought so hard
to get for union members fifty years ago.?
?So that sort of leaves un in a
quandary, doesn?t it?? Either we agree that health care coverage is just a
benefit and that the popes and Church are wrong to say it?s a basic right, or
we figure out a way to protect this right for the ore than forty million folks
who lack access to basic health care. And if you?re right that as a small business owner you simply can?t
afford to pay for this coverage and keep afloat, then maybe we need to look at
the way we provide for health care in this country. Maybe we need some kind of major health-care
reform coming out of Washington. I mean,
one way or the other, we?re going to have to figure out how to solve this problem,
?I?ll make you a deal, Jennie,? her
father replied. ?You bring home the text
book for that course in Catholic social though, and I?ll read it. After all, I paid for it. And in May when I come to pick you up from
school, I?ll meet with your Father Ralph and talk to him. But this summer, you?ll come to work with me
at the office. You?ll go over the books
and you?ll check out all the options for health insurance plans available to
small business owners like myself. And
together we?ll look at what the politicians in the state capital and Washington
are offering in terms of health care reform. Then, in September, we?ll make a plan that you and I and everyone else
in this family can actually live with.?
?Of course, we may discover that we
can?t be just to my workers and pay your tuition at a Catholic college. Or that we need to make significant changes
in our lifestyle – which other people in the family might not be so willing to
do. Would you be willing to have those
conversations and make this deal with me?
?I suspect that you?re bluffing just a
bit here, Dad. But it?s an intriguing
offer, and I?d be silly to turn you down, even if it is also pretty scary. By the way,? Jenny wondered, ?does this mean
the family trip to Costa Rica is off this Christmas??