The Makah tribe
The Makah tribe
CASE: The Makah tribe claim to have hunted gray whales for more than 2,000 years. They stopped in the 1920s due to a decline in the number of gray whales. Now they want to return to the hunt to provide food for their tribe and to restore the young men�s sense of discipline and pride in their traditions. Proponents of the hunt claim that a majority of the tribe support the hunt, which is expected to take fewer than the five whales they are permitted by law to kill.
Tribal leaders claim they will take no pregnant or nursing females. Some Makah elders disagree, however, pointing out that the tribe survived for most of the twentieth century without eating whale meat and claiming that there are better ways to instill pride and discipline. The environmental community argues that the whale hunt is immoral because it violates the whales right to exist on the planet.
Que#1 Is it appropriate for non-members of the Makah Tribe to evaluate the morality of the Makah whale hunt??
Que#2 What are the moral issues involved in terms of UTILITY and the Parties involved in the Makah Tribe case?? (Utility is defined as that which makes a consequence desirable.)
Que#3 What are the moral issues involved in terms of DUTIES and the Parties involved in the Makah Tribe case??
Que#4 What are the Moral Issues involved in terms of RIGHTS and the parties involved in the Makah Tribe Case?? (A Right confers upon its holder a kind of moral privilege to protect, utilize or exercise control over something.)
In the case of the Makah tribe, it is appropriate for non-members of the Makah Tribe to evaluate the morality of the Makah whale hunt. However, the manner in which the evaluation of the morality of the whale hunting must be done rationally to avoid bias. The main problem when it comes to evaluating the morality of the action is where the person or group doing the analysis has vested interest. Ideally, such individuals will fail to be objective in their analysis. Evidence shows that where various quotas evaluate a moral objectively, there is a possibility that the affected entity adopt strategies to strengthen how things are done. In the case of Makah tribe whale hunting, the external parties in their evaluations are faulty as the data used is not factual.
The moral issues involved regarding utility with regards to whale hunting is whether it is right for the Makah tribe to resume the hunting for meat and economic benefits as a result of selling artifacts made from whale bones. In making a rational decision, it is critical to thoroughly evaluate both the good and the harmful consequences of such action (Ruggiero 164). In the whale hunting case study, the utility to be considered would be both short-term and long-term utility. In the case of Makah tribe whale hunting, if they are allowed, it might lead to a lot of happiness in the short-term for the current generation, however, if the laws are not adhered to and competition from commercial fishing hits, then there will be a possibility of long-term suffering as a result of extinction or reduced number of the gray whales. Based on the utilitarian philosophy, humankind must act in a manner that maximizes utility. On the other hand, the action of maximizing utility might not always be the right thing that might result in a violation of rights (Burnor and Raley 89).
The other parties, including the United States government, Sea Shepherd and Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) are of the view that banning whale hunting yields more benefits to the general public and the wellbeing of the whales.
In moral studies, duty guides the will that acts from reason. From the case of whale hunting, the Makah tribe has to carry on with the traditions of their ancestors of hunting whales for meat and fulfilling their cultural obligations. However, the moral issues of duty for the tribe are whether to respect the law banning whales hunting. According to Ruggiero (89) Kant asserts that law is the only thing, which can determine the will except objectively the law and for that matter, it must be respected. On the other hand, Makah tribe has a duty in ensuring that they do not over-exploit the whales and use the resource in a manner prescribed by law. The government has to ensure that the rights of every individual are not violated. In this case, the government moral issue of duty is whether to continue banning whale hunting or allow the tribe to engage in a tradition they have done for almost 2000 years. The other stakeholders have the duty of fighting for the welfare of the marine animals. However, the moral issue that arises is when their actions are seen by the tribe to infringe on their rights (Burnor and Raley 135).
The Makah tribe has the right to practice their culture that is associated with many customs and rituals. Additionally, they have the right to access foods that include meat from the whales and berries from the forests. The moral issue facing the community is that the right is not absolute, hence a possibility of conflict with other rights (Ruggiero 137). For instance, the right of the tribe to hunt whales as a way of their tradition might conflict with the right of animal rights activists as well as government regulations on protecting marine animals. The United States government, Sea Shepherd and Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) have the right to protect and advocate for the sustainable use of whale resources. The government, on the other hand, has the right to pass regulations and laws that guide how resources are utilized (Burnor and Raley 213). However, the moral issue of rights for these parties is how to advocate for the banning of whale hunting while at the same time not denying the Makah tribe their rights to exercise their cultural rituals.
Burnor, Richard and Raley, Yvonne. Ethical Choices: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with Cases. Oxford University: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Ruggiero, Vincent. Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues 9th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2014. Print.