Read Case 2.1: Hacking into Harvard, located on page 71 in your textbook. As applicants began to defend themselves against the penalties handed out by the business schools, they appealed to both consequentialist and nonconsequentialist criteria to support their actions. Some responded by pointing out that their intentions were never malicious, while others argued they did not think checking their application statuses would cause any real harm. Review the case study, and analyze the actions of the students from a Kantian perspective. Consider whether the actions taken by the hackers were permissible according the standard of universal acceptability.
Expert Answer and Explanation
From a Kantian perspective, the students did not do the right thing. Kant expresses the importance to not only do the right thing but to do it willingly so that it can be considered as a moral act. The students acted egoistically according to the Kantian perspective, in that their actions were to benefits themselves only.
The actions taken by the hackers were not permissible by any universal standard of acceptance. However, I do feel that the schools and the Apply Yourself programmers should take some blame for the actions of the students. Let’s just say, no one posted the directions on how to find out your acceptance status online; because of the curiosity of humans, I’m sure there would have been some people that would have figured out the way to access their accounts. Although there would have been a lot less students involved, I’m sure it would have happened. Now, I am not saying any part of what they did was ethical or moral on their part, I am saying that the school should have a more secure service, when it involves people’s personal information.
The hackers and the student’s actions were not ethical or moral, however the punishment was extreme and I feel that the schools and the programmers have some liability here as well.