Kant Ethical Theory and Modern Policing


Kant’s ethical theories are founded on the principle of a sense ofduty as well as unconditional moral standards (Birsch, 2013). Thismeans that people are expected to act in manners that align withsociety’s moral rules. The theory employs a deontological approach,which states that because individuals are moral agents, it is theirduty to do what is right. Hence, people should not do good thingswith the expectation of being rewarded, or for self interest.Instead, ethics should be based on the fact that one is unlikely tobenefit from being good. Kant notes that such level of moralitybecomes achievable when people do their duty, which is to followrules (O`Neill, 2013).

Kant further explains that, in order for people to become ethical,they should have good will (Birsch, 2013). A good will is whatdifferentiates people who are evil from those who are good. It is thedesire to act in manners that promote righteousness. Consequently,Kant views the will as a power inherent in rational beings. This isbecause rational people are able to comprehend the moral law and actaccording to it.

The theories are applicable to contemporary policing practices invarious ways. The first application involves using Kant’s ideas topromote unconditional moral good among police officers. The policeforce faces many challenges, like distrust and dislike by the public.This is because some officers have acted in manners that reducepublic trust in the role of police. For instance, officers who arrestpeople based on racial prejudice, lead the public to assume thatpolicing practices are racially biased. Using Kant’s theory, policewill be in a position to evaluate their actions and ensure that theyare purely based on promoting good. Instead of arresting people basedon their race, officers will realize that they should only arrestindividuals because they have committed an offence.

In addition, the theories can be applied to policing practices aimedat enhancing community partnership with law enforcers. The police areexpected to work together with citizens in ensuring neighborhoods aresafe. They depend on civilians to report crimes, while citizens relyon police to be protected from offenders. But officers mustdemonstrate that they have good will in order for such collaborationto happen. Kant explains that good will sets apart the good peoplefrom the bad. Once policing depicts such good intentions for thepublic, it becomes easier to build unity and in turn reduce crimerates.

Police officers encounter challenging situations on a daily basis,when in their line of duty. For example, when attempting to arrest anoffender, at times the suspect may resist arrest. As a result, anofficer is compelled to use force. Nevertheless, force must not beapplied to the extent that it causes harm to the individual beingarrested. Kant’s theory notes that while doing good, people mustalso ensure that they follow the law. The theory will guide lawenforcers to make rational decisions when handling difficult cases.

In conclusion, Kant’s theories enlighten on why people have a dutyto do what is right, by following set laws. These are ideals, whichare applicable in current policing practices, to ensure that lawenforcers are fair, rational and endeavor to maintain law and orderas expected by law.


Birsch, D. (2013). Introduction to ethical theories: A proceduralapproach. Illinois: Waveland Press.

O`Neill, O. (2013).&nbspActingon principle: An essay on Kantian ethics.Cambridge University Press.