Home > Education, Ethics, In the News, Literature, Morality > Kant, Bentham, And Meth Lab Fires.

Kant, Bentham, And Meth Lab Fires.

From a painting of Immanuel Kant

Image via Wikipedia

In the sleepy, little river side town where I now live, a huge meth problem exists just beneath the surface. Just since the Yule holiday, there have been three meth labs busted within five miles of our home. Of these three labs that were raided, two were burnt to the ground by a vigilante hours after the police left. It would be an understatement to say that there are a lot of nervous, pissed off residents in this area. It’s bad enough that there is a meth problem: The fact that some dumbass is running around burning them down because he thinks he’s some kind of hero-vigilante only makes it worse.

After reading about the fires, I began to think: what would contrasting philosophers Immanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham have to say about this? What morals and ethics can be applied? Let’s start with Bentham:

Jeremy Bentham was an 19th century British philosopher. His primary claim to fame is his introduction of Utilitarianism, the concept that the ends justify the means, as long as it is good for the majority. In the case of these fires, Bentham might find that the arsonist’s actions are good; there is a serious meth problem in the area, which affects a great number of people. The consequence of setting the lab on fire, regardless of the fact that some people can lose property and life as a result is outweighed by the consequence that even more people may benefit from a meth lab being burned down, eliminating a potential source of debilitating drugs. The fact that the lab was shut down by the cops is of no importance, since another cook or dealer could set up shop there.

Kant on the other hand might state the opposite. Kant, a German Philosopher from the 18th century, held another ideology all together. His view of morality is that the consequences are of no importance, but rather whether or not one feels that an action is good within itself. In his view, in this instance, the question should be asked “Does putting others in danger make for a good moral axiom?”

Kant’s hard universalist ideology seems to sit better with me than Bentham’s consequential utilitarian views. There is a morality involved in most choices that we make, and too many times the potential consequences drive our choices, rather than the consideration of whether or not the choice is morally good or bad.

I hope this nut job is caught soon. He’s putting people in danger, regardless of his intentions. In my moral view, that makes him as bad as the dealers who peddle their poison to this struggling, mostly impoverished area. I think Kant would agree, and Bentham can go pound salt.

Posted from my piece of crap Blackberry

  1. carvingoutavoice
    January 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I completely agree. This idiot could easily cause an explosion, get any number of innocent bystanders hurt and/or damage their property and is endangering the lives of our local EMS responders and Firefighters, not to mention taking up their time when they may be needed elsewhere. This town doesn’t have the luxury of full-time paid firefighters and depends on a solely volunteer force on a small budget. The last thing we need is some pyromaniac satisfying his/her neurotic tendencies under the pretense of “justice”. It’s a good community with a bad problem, much like many rural town in this country right now and we need to be working toward constructive solutions, not comic book capers that will only get someone killed.


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