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Ethical and Moral Issues in Intelligence

Buy custom Ethical and Moral Issues in Intelligence essay

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When looking at the issue of how intelligence agents conduct their businesses, the moral and ethical issues always arises. Ethics can be said to be the guiding principles that intelligence agents have to follow as they carry out their operations. On the other hand, morals can be viewed as what is generally accepted by society as a code of conduct. Intelligence can be defined as that global as well as aggregate capacity within an individual to do something with a purpose, apply rationale in his or her thinking and at the same time deal effectively with the environment, that surrounds him/her. Intelligence has been used in different fields over the history with aim of achieving different goals in the life of man. For the purpose of this paper, I will focus on the field of collecting intelligence for the purpose of security reasons.

Over the history of man, both artificial and human intelligence have been applied in the area of national and international security. The applications of intelligence in these crucial areas of human life have led to development of more secure society. Intelligence in the field of security entails spying on the enemy’s territory with an aim of collecting information that will be useful for the purpose of defeating the enemy. There are emergent philosophical arguments regarding the ethical and moral values that should guide intelligent agents as they conduct their business of collecting intelligence information. One of the leading philosophers in the field of ethics and morals, Suffice, is of the view that most of the activities carried out in the field of human intelligence are usually entail devious as well as underhanded conducts.

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So many questions arise when one looks at the moral and ethical issues in the intelligence. First, one has to understand why ethics and morals are important in intelligence. What type of ethics and moral values should be taken into account while discussing the issue of intelligence? This paper seeks to discuss in details the ethical as well as moral issues in intelligence and implications that these ethical and moral issues have in the way intelligence agents conduct their business of collecting information.

When dealing with the subject of moral issues in the field of intelligence, three important categories on the area of ethical philosophy emerge. Meta ethics is one of them. It deals with the questions to do with what morality taks. Secondly, normative ethics is another category, which has been developed over the history; this category is usually concerned with provision of a moral framework aimed at helping one in determination of what is wrong and what is right. Finally, applied ethics is another important category; it usually tends to apply the theory of normative ethics to various specific cases and in identification of the choices that are morally just. When it comes to matters of what is ethical in intelligence, its is up to the public to define the most appropriate moral philosophy that should be used by intelligence agencies as well as the government in tackling the issues of developing guidelines on how intelligence activities should be conducted.

From the above philosophical approach, certain ethical and moral issues in intelligence are very clear. First, the issues arise to what extent the intelligence agent should use force while collecting intelligence information.

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Over the history many intelligence agents have found themselves in situations that endanger their lives. In other cases the person who they are interrogating may not be willing to part with the information that they are looking for. They therefore have no option but to use force in order to make the person with the information talk. With the rise of human rights, many activists are opposed to the methods that are used by agents in their operations. They are of the argument that such methods lead to the bodily harms on the part of the person who has been interrogated thus denying him his or her basic human rights. For instance, the CIA agents are faced with the ethical dilemma on how to handle suspects of terrorism activities because they tend to be dangerous and there is no way that you can get information from them unless they sue force.

Secondly, in times of war the ethical and moral issues arise. Citizens and leaders often permit usage of extreme measures that are aimed at preserving the state from the enemy. For example, the government of the United State has employed stringent measures aimed at fighting terrorism that threaten the security of its citizens. This means that it has to employ unethical tactics in collection of intelligence information aimed at ensuring that its citizens are secure. The moral issue that arises is whether the country can use unethical approaches in dealing with issues that threaten its citizens’ security. This kind of situation calls for application of the normative ethics theory in order to come up with the right response on what should be done. Given that security is crucial to the state, any measure that is aimed at enhancing security of the citizens can be considered ethical. Even if measures that are employed appear to be unethical, the situation permits the application of these measures.

The ethical and moral issues are popular in the international politics where some nations use their intelligence agents to spy on other nations with an intention of dictating their own governance policies in that country. Apart from considering the ethics and moral issues that surround operations of individual intelligence, it is also crucial to consider the moral duty that the government has to protect those who are innocent despite their citizenship. For instance, the USA is one of the world leading countries in the fight against terrorism. That means that it has many intelligence agents in foreign nations. Due to these stakes in the fight against terrorism, the Americans have been meddling in affairs of countries, which seem to be opposed to their policies. They have used their intelligence agents in many cases to overthrow those governments that are opposed to their foreign policies. The ethical and moral issues that arise in this case are whether their individual governments have the right to meddle in affairs of other independent countries and use intelligence agents.

Based on the above, ethical and moral issues in intelligence have been raised over the history; there are some implications that have resulted from these issues. First, there have been rise of opposition to the methods that are used by intelligence agents in their line of duty. People are now demanding the intelligence agents to protect the rights of individuals. Secondly, measures have been put in place by individual governments to ensure that their intelligence agents follow certain ethical principles as they carry out their duties. This has played a major rule in reducing unethical behaviors among intelligence agents.

Finally, the issues have lead to increased international debate on what should be considered ethical and moral in intelligence. The debate has lead to emergence of certain disciplines aimed at teaching intelligence agents that they should perform their duties in a way that is humane thereby reducing cases of unethical practices among the intelligence agents.


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