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Ethical Justification

Ethical Justification


Security has been a fundamental necessity for every human being. One is happy when he or she is secure in the community. A person may have every material factor, but if insecurity is on top of the matter, things would be difficult hence instability chips in. In many cases, debate rises into whether security is only an ethical justification to safeguard the community or it is done for the sake. Moral justification means that the overall goodness of a particular element outweighs the overall risk of the same. However, the moral justification of security is based on prioritization of the same so as to protect the community well.

If citizens of any country lack security, then they may not take part in developmental activities, which relate to nation-building. Consequently, it would then lead to problems that would worsen their living standards. A government in place is mandated to take fully part in offering the best services that they would regard to security. They can invest more so long as the safety of the citizens is not at stake. The community has right to protection from the governmental agencies in place meant for according to quality safety. In individual level, expenditure on the safety may not be a necessary one as compared to administrative security spending. The government has the justification and the urge to offer that valuable services without favor (Paris, 2001).

According to Wolfers (1952), people should not confuse national security with any other national policies because of the weight the latter carries. However, it is supposed to cover all citizens without any favor. The incumbent government has to put in place working strategies of the same to avoid relapses and shortages that may cause unrest among its citizens. Wolfers went ahead to show how security as a value should have some criterion of trading based on hierarchical priorities. In this case, the government needs to put safety in the highest priorities because it is the sole factor that will create an environment conducive for other factors in the society. One needs to forego certain expenditures which do not bring required satisfaction while replacing them with security cost regardless of how expensive it is.

According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, security needs come after survival needs. Such ranking shows that they are crucial for the community and individuals. Fig 2 below illustrates such a hierarchy while indicating the placement of security in it. When one has gotten all the necessary survival needs such as food, shelter, and clothing, the next big thing that the person will look for is security. However, it may not be the case in governmental agencies because they need to offer security to its citizens first before anything else. However, protecting citizens should not rely only on the safety, but to various sectors such as upholding their rights, giving them the opportunity to expression their views about the development of different areas of the government, and many more. There are ethical principles that take care of the adherence to security just like any other human needs. In some situations, one has to defend himself from impending danger hence, may require him to go against some ethics. Scholars, therefore, do not entertain such kind of reasoning because people need to come up with some priorities to guide them in such values and ethical decision-making (Zedner, 2003).

Security Systems

According to Moynihan & Roberts (2002), there are various security systems in Australia, which offer quality services to the community. These include the national government security agencies and private security firms. However, Australian Security Industry Association Ltd (ASIAL) which offers comprehensive services to the public although for a fee. The security agencies recognize the necessity of security among the citizens of Australia. It is comparable with other countries in the world where they put forward security as the primary requirement for protection of its citizens regardless of race or tribe. Other countries like America uphold security to its citizens because they believe that they must offer the best to them as a responsibility. The federal government sets the higher amount of money to facilitate this. Sometimes they work hand in hand with the federal government to make things easier because security is a diverse issue. More so, the government can use other methods to protect the citizens other than security. In this case, there is no need for the government to use security as an ethical justification for protection of its citizens. In some cases, the government may be obliged to forego other expenditures so as to facilitate security. When there is a foreign invasion, the government cannot argue that it cannot increase spending on funding the military because it carries out other projects. The government would just cut off the spending because security is more valuable than the rest based on the fact that it would help in creating an environment conducive to the rest liberal agendas (Lutterbeck, 2004).

Security as a Value

According to Baldwin (1997), there are various values that a government or an individual should trade off to enhance maximum satisfaction out of it. Mostly, the money that the government will use to facilitate security is higher than expected. Insecurity would stagnate development because no one would like to invest in a place full of uncertainty. The moment the government becomes reluctant in taking care of the citizens, various problems may arise hence affecting their lives. Moreover, this is evidence that security is a value that no one needs to ignore because its repercussions would show up sooner or later. Wolfers (1952) usually argue that states vary widely based on the way they value security as a need for the community to coexist. However, some states portray a high level of dissatisfaction with the degree of status quo that is in existence. In this case, it would be an indication on how particular state would set aside funding for the same.

Wolfers also agrees with other scholars who argue that one can characterize security as a condition where threats are absent in the values acquired. Moreover, this gives an indication that safety is one of the values that ranks higher in the hierarchy of values. Marginal values mean that an increase in one unit of value leads to an equal increase in the intensity of another. Also, security is a prime value that citizens find essential. Wolfers goes ahead to argue that security can be classified based on two fundamental questions which include; security directed to whom? Moreover, also, security about which values. While the governments are offering security, they may undermine the lives of other people such as offenders by killing them. In other cases, people who are blameless find themselves in trouble because the government may be radical in protecting its citizens (Jones & Smith, 2001).

In figure 1 below, Baldwin’s hierarchical model contains three elements which include prime values, marginal values and core values. One has to make a decision to which direction to take in choosing to fund either side of the values. Security is also a value that requires the government to use certain criterion while offering the best protection for the citizens. Moreover, it is usually an issue that federal governments typically use security as an ethical justification for protection of its citizens and the entire community (McRae & Hubert, 2001).

Is security at all costs an ethical justification to protect the community?

Fig 1: Baldwin’s hierarchical model’s values

Baldwin’s hierarchy

Marginal values

Core values

Prime values

Table 1: Contents of Baldwin’s model

Neglect of Security Issue

Security has not been a frequent topic that many writers engaged on since Wolfers in the year 1952. Consequently, the government should also not neglect it because the citizens need enough security. According to Mendel & Bradford (1994), protecting the citizens should be the principal objective of the government. Mendel & Bradford tried to pose a question to the readers as to what the government is protecting. There was a broad range of things that the government needs to protect ranging from territories, resources, regimes of the government, cultural traditions, and human life. However, he found out that human health is the primary aspect that should be traded-off with other aspects. When the responsible authorities neglect human life, it would be hard for them to enjoy material properties. As a value, security intertwines with other aspects that make up a successful life.

Governments may sometimes get involved in mass killings whereby suspected criminals get killed. In such a case, justice organs have to work out in preventing the rights of the deceased while outlining the need to re-organize the priorities by the incumbent governments.

Hierarchy of values and needs

Is security at all costs an ethical justification to protect the community? 1

Fig 2: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety lies at the second place after physiological needs. It means that security, as safety is essential to human beings, as it would give them the moral authority to carry out other things such as love, raising self-esteem and self-actualization. Maslow seems to relate to the perspective of Baldwin based on how the government of any nation carries out various aspects and protection to the community. Baldwin understands that individuals in the commonwealth value security hence work hard in giving their best to them. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the deficiency needs must be achieved because they shape the individuals’ or groups’ behavior. In the same case, security, as safety helps the individuals to actualize other aspects of living. Safety is a higher value than others (Buzan, Wæver & De Wilde, 1998).

According to Leitold, Hollosi & Posch (2002), the citizens of Australia trust the government to provide enough protection for them. However, they think that security is one of the ethical justification for the government to protect them. However, such was an argument that Elahi & Yu (2007) did not entirely agree with because it is the role of governments to take care of its citizens at all costs. The government should not complain about how expensive the protection is but should focus on the result of the protection. Other nations, for instance, the United States spend much money to ensure that its citizens get the highest quality of security. However, they have set out laws that result in bringing to book any offender hence heightening the quest for justice. In the real sense, a good government understands the interests of the community while knowing the situation at hand. In countries like Nigeria, terrorist attacks affect day to day activities that are meant to promote economic development. The governments of such countries deploy security officers while equipping them with the necessary equipment and ammunition to safeguard its citizens.

According to Hartmann (2002), the government should carry out protection of its citizens without favoring some factions. Such a case would lead to unrest among them. However, based on the way of reasoning of the author, the government has to set out a well elaborate criterion that ensures that security comes first while other things like infrastructure are also addressed to the latter. On the other hand, Yeatman (1990) argues that Australian government should put forward the security of its citizens without carrying about the welfare of insurgents who do not mean any real to them. Use of force may be justifiable because so long as the citizens are secure, other things would follow later.

In conclusion, various countries understand the need for security for their citizens. However, the spending that they focus on the safety arms is alarming though safety is one of the priorities apart from infrastructural development. Governments may go overboard in protecting its citizens while causing harm to offenders such as terrorists. Such a situation brings out some debates on how the governments should deal with those issues. Moreover, there is a need to protect the citizens so as development would go well with particular nations. Finally, based on the extensive literature review, I agree that security at all costs is an ethical justification for a government to the community.


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Buzan, B. (2008). People, states & fear: an agenda for international security studies in the post-cold war era. ECPR Press.

Buzan, B., Wæver, O., & De Wilde, J. (1998). Security: a new framework for analysis. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

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