The military professionals, including those in the navy are expected by the society to follow a higher moral standard. It is the mission and the image that people or the society sees upon these professionals. As such, there is a need for the strict implementation of professional ethics and moral codes. Generals or commanders always enforce their troops or subordinates to follow moral goodness.
If moral failure occurs or when an officer was not able to follow direct orders given to him, they give reprimands and even punishments. The punishment can either be suspension, dismissal from service, demotion or being jailed in a military prison. Furthermore, because of these expectations and high moral standards, moral problems of the slightest case are treated immediately. Actions are done in order to correct whatever mistake was committed that may put a blemish on the name of the navy.
In an article by Sara Corbett, which was published on March 18, 2007 at the New York Times, a female United States Navy faced melancholy and turmoil due to a simple moral problem that she committed. The United States Navy at that time had to depart or be deployed in Iraq for the war. Due to personal reasons, Suzanne Swift who was a 21-year-old, went AWOL or absence without official leave.
She did not report on her duties for two days and stayed away hiding from the navy through the help of her friends. She continuously received messages and calls from her superiors and fellow soldiers during her AWOL but still, she did not report on her duties. By the month of April, after the departure of the ship where Suzanne Swift was supposed to board, she returned to her family’s home (Corbett, 2007).
By the 11th of June, there were two local officers who visited her family’s home and found her painting her toenails. The local officers arrested Suzanne Swift and brought her to county jail. After two days, she was taken to Fort Lewis wherein she would be charged with being AWOL. Unable to continue her duties as a soldier, she was placed on a room in the barracks where she performed desk jobs. The military procedures when it comes to AWOL soldiers are really established that actions taken are promptly.
Utilitarianism refers to the doctrine of ethics wherein the action considered or taken is in the form of consequentialism. In addition to this, the course of action that is taken is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility. In simple terms, it is for the “greatest good for the greatest number of people” (Mill, 1998). In the case of Suzanne Swift, the navy left without her because it is the right thing to do, for them not to delay their mission and contribute to the benefit of the many.
On the other hand, it was not morally right for Swift to abandon her duties since she was merely thinking of herself and not the benefit of others. In the field, she could help her fellow soldiers and even aid in their cause, but she chose not to. Suzanne Swift has the right for a lawyer and the right to defend her stand, but if utilitarianism is considered as basis for judging her, then she would be instantly convicted guilty.
Corbett, Sara. "The Women's War." The New York Times (March 18, 2007). January 14, 2008
Mill, John Stuary. Utilitarianism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.