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04D1-08-Ethical debates for public administrators using consequentialist and nonconsequentialist theories to support your analysis regarding taking a life

Government authorizes the taking of a human life in some cases and does not sanction it in others. This long-standing debate about what is right and wrong and what public administration's response should be in these situations raises interesting ethical debates for public administrators. Consider the following examples:

  • You are a prison warden, responsible for executing murderers on death row.
  • You are a public health clinic doctor who can prescribe drugs for assisted suicides in a state that allows euthanasia for terminal patients.
  • You are a legislator responsible for making budgetary decisions that will benefit one population by eliminating life-saving services for another.
  • You are a soldier in battle who is ordered to kill non-combatants.

Select one of these examples, and using consequentialist and nonconsequentialist theories to support your analysis. Argue whether or not the public servant has the duty to perform their task, even if it violates their personal ethics. Please remember that there is no clear right or wrong answer here, but your analysis of each example must be supported by the text and by other peer-reviewed sources. Remember to cite all sources that you use in your analysis.Locate at least three peer-reviewed sources on nonconsequentialist theories and three sources for consequentialist theories of ethics as applied in the public sector,


1. Thiroux and Krasemann, read Chapter 3, "Nonconsequentialist (Deontological) Theories of Morality," pages 46–60.

2. Stillman's Public Administration: Concepts and Cases, read Chapter 9, Reading 9 and Case 9 on the shootings at Columbine High School, pages 257–282. Pay particular attention to the ethical issues that arise and the responses of public administrators to those issues.

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