How do Ethics Shape Value Trade-offs in the Pursuit of Security?

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Ethics shape value trade-offs in the pursuit of security. Values are the importance something holds. Society is bound by these values. However, people hold many values; therefore, values must be traded according to hierarchical priorities. Security is seen by many as a fundamental value, one that must be held as a priority. Therefore, there are value trade-offs in the pursuit of security. Intertwined in these value trade-offs in the social construct of ethics. These are the moral principles guiding individuals when conducting activities to choose between the right and wrong decision. Ethics are very important when considering value trade-offs especially in the pursuit of security in order for the correct decision to be made. Ethics shape value trade-offs such as privacy and freedoms in the pursuit of security by considering the end result in order for the best outcome to occur which is usually achieved through a balance.

Society is driven by norms and values. Values are the things that are believed to be important. They should determine priorities Members of society must have a general agreement on the matter of right and wrong, values, and morality in order to function properly. Understanding human values is a never-ending process. Values serve as standards to guide action and judgement. According to Williams (1979) values are complex and multifaceted “pre-coding’s” that are a result of learn fusions of “cognitive-conceptual with imperative elements” the determination of values is the result of mental processes, either instinctive or logical. Instinct recognises the value of food, clothes, and shelter. “Logical adopts established forms and limits consideration of values to some one or all these forms” (Understanding Human values., 1979) Values should be determined by the desire to be accomplished. “When the value of such things is emphasised the very qualities are developed in human beings searching for a way to gratify their desires” (William F. Fowler., (1935)) Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper 'A Theory of Human Motivation” Ranking values in a form of a hierarchy, of importance, one must achieve the lower levels before moving onto the next level. The most important is physiological such as food, water, shelter and sex. (Journal of Nursing Management, 2003). The next is safety needs (security), then belongingness and love, (need for belongingness, friendship and love.), then esteem, (feel competent, confident and self‐assured), and finally self-actualisation. (‘be all that one can be’.) Baldwin (1997) also put forth a hierarchical model of values which categories values in relations to their priority, as prime (first importance)., core (important)., and marginal (minor) (Concept of security., 1997) Examples of Australian values include democracy, human rights, equal opportunity, and rule of law. Security is seen as a value in society. Wolfers (1952,) defines security as: “the absence of threats to acquired values, in an objective sense, and in a subjective sense, as “the absence of fear that such acquired values will be attacked”. The purpose of security in society is to maintain freedom and peace, protect citizens and assets of society. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs express security as second in importance. Values are important to individuals and states however people hold many values and therefore necessitates the sacrifice of some values.

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People hold many values; therefore, values must be traded according to hierarchical priorities. To help determine what values hold priority, Maslow's and Baldwins theories can put the concept of trading values into perspective. Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs is placed in the form of most important to less important. This theory can be used when looking at the concept of trading values as the higher less important values at the top of the hierarchy could be traded in return of a lower more important value. Baldwin’s theory (1997) facilitate social trade-offs against the various values that enable society to function. Puts values into categories in order of priority. This theory can also be used in relation to trading values as your most prime value would take priority. Everyday values are being traded in order to prioritise other values. In recent times with the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals are trading substantial values for safety and wellbeing. Trading the values of freedom of movement, and freedom of choice for wellbeing. As individuals now see health as a priority and more important than other values. (Coole & ABC news 2020) Security is valued by individuals, families and states. Security, however, is not the only thing they value; and the pursuit of security necessitates the sacrifice of other values. The concept of trading values can then come into play with the pursuit of security. The pursuit of security always involves costs, (The concept of security., 1997) Trading values doesn't have to be an all or nothing concept, it can be gained or sacrificed to certain degrees. Security is about protecting its citizens and its assets of society. In order to have security and to have that protection, certain values are needed to be traded to a certain degree. It is natural to give up some liberty in order to have security. Wolfers (1952) suggests “the sacrifice of other values for the sake of security inevitable” In order to have protection, government/ countries need to be aware of certain aspects of the world and be able to watch, maintain or remove threats. This would not be possible without certain intelligences being conducted such as SIGINT with the interception of signal data. Having certain data intercepted means there is a certain degree of the value of privacy being sacrificed due to phone calls, emails etc being analysed. However, it could be considered more ethical to have less security in order to preserve some values such as privacy and individual freedoms. Citizens are not being watched constantly and individuals have the freedoms to move freely and exercise their human rights. Therefore, Security is a value that must be balanced. Individuals have so many values that some must be traded especially in pursuit of security.

Entwined in value trade-offs is the social construct of ethics. The moral principles guiding individuals when conducting activities towards a goal, regulating between right and wrong. Ethics comes in term with not only making ethical decisions but following a code of ethics (Fannon, K. 2001). Fannon discusses that while ethics can be an in- the-moment decision making it also follows a code of conduct that has ethical considerations already developed within it. Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories, “whether an act is right or wrong depends on the results of that act. The more good consequences an act produces, the righter that act is. It gives guidance when faced with a moral dilemma, to choose the choice that maximises good consequence. The classic form of results-based ethics is called utilitarianism. This says that the ethically right choice is the one that produces the most happiness for the largest number of people, (Ethics guide, 2014). When trading values the social construct of ethics need to be taken into consideration in order for the best choice to be made. When trading values, individuals need to consider the effect not having a certain value on a society, a community, or an individual. What are the end results in trading certain values? Would it be essential to have one value over another? Would this trade produce the most happiness? Does it respect individuals? Would the value trade-off have a positive or negative outcome? Examples of trading which may not be ethical is North Korea who trade privacy and freedom of movement for authority and power. They value authority and obedience and to get that they take away human rights of their people. Individuals liberty is traded in order for North Korean officials to maintain power. Individuals are not allowed to freely leave the country and they live in certain areas in relations to their social class. Values such as freedom of movement and privacy are traded for authority and power without any ethical considerations and therefore North Korea has breached human rights and have a negative outcome. (Human rights in North Korea., 2018). Ethics need to be considered when trading values in order to determine the moral choice between what values are considered important to individuals of society and which take priority in order to have the best outcome in which everyone is happy.

With the value of security being an important part of the community, ethics must be taken into consideration. Ethics shape value trade-offs in order to confirm the consideration of certain principles to make sure the right decision is made. These principles include consideration to life, the end result and the overall happiness of the people. Ethics help to consider the positive and negative effects of the value trade off. If there is a positive effect, then the value trade off was a successful trade. However, if there is a negative consequence then the trade-off was ethically incorrect. These ethical principles shape these value trade-offs in the pursuit of security in order for there to be a positive effect. This is usually achieved when there is a balance. Security is seen as an important value however there are other values to be considered. Security is a global issue that needs ethics applied to it for the benefit and safety of all to be maintained. Without the influence of moral principles, values can be breached. An example is CCTV footage, for the safety and protection of individuals, but also for the prosecution of law breakers. While security cameras can be useful for management of security, they could infringe values such as privacy if the cameras were placed in toilets. Metadata plays a critical role in serious criminal and national security investigations. However, the argument is whether breaching privacy, is justifiable for the pursuit of security (Responding to requests to access to CCTV Footage, 2015). In the Trade-Off between Civil Liberties and Security in the United States and Germany after 9/11/01, Zuegmann talks that people lean towards a balance of security with liberty (2009). When there is no balance, that’s when damaging effects can occur. Therefore, as an ethical consideration, the use of security is not an at all cost’s justification. Ethics help shape value trade off in the pursuit of security in order for there to be a balance. Security to be able to protect the freedom of society without suppressing society. It would be unethical to completely take away human right in order to gain security. A balance is needed as security is seen as a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other values. (Concept of security., 1997) Ethics shape value trade-offs in the pursuit of security in order for there to be a balance for a stable society, as pursuing security goals that infringe ethics, can lead to the elimination of civil liberties. In order for security to be beneficial, ethics need to be applied in order to determine if the end result creates the best outcome and society is happy. Although security is an important value it is not the only essential value and therefore ethics shape the trading of these values in the pursuit of security in order for the best possible outcome to occur within what is morally correct.

Values are very important to individuals, communities and states. However, people hold so many values that value trade-offs occur in which the less important values are traded for the values that take priority. This is seen in everyday life including the Covid-19 pandemic in which individuals are trading freedom of movement for their wellbeing (ABC., 2020). This is seen in the value trade-offs in the pursuit of security. Certain values such as privacy is sacrificed in order for the protection of security. However, value trade-offs are not an all or nothing approach. Value can be gained and sacrificed to certain degrees. Especially in the pursuit of security a balance is necessary for society to function properly. A balance in these value trade-offs also link with the social construct of ethics. Ethics shape value trade-offs especially in the pursuit of security in order to make sure the best positive outcomes occur, and the largest number of people are happy. It would be unethical to take away certain values or human rights completely, therefore ethics and the moral principles consider the positive and negative outcomes of each trade in order to make a decision. Ethics shape value trade-offs in the pursuit of security by considering certain principles of life and the end result, weighing the positive and negative outcomes in order for there to be a balance so the best outcome can occur.


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