By Ali Mashraf
On May 11, 2017, Dr. Mokerrom Hossain, Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Virginia State University, USA delivered a lecture on ‘Ethics and Morality Vis-à-Vis Criminal Justice Professional’ at the ZI Chowdhury Memorial Lecture organized by Faculty of Law, University of Dhaka.
Professor Dr. Borhan Uddin Khan, Chairman, Department of Law, University of Dhaka chaired the program. In his welcome speech, Dr. Khan introduced Dr. Mokerrom Hossain and briefly summarized his academic and professional background. Following that, Dr. Hossain delivered his lecture.
At the onset, Dr. Hossain reminded everyone that it was essential to study the sociological aspect of law to understand the motive of the lawmakers of the country; something that he felt was quite impossible in the 60s. Underlining the implication of the Supreme Court’s verdicts all over the country, he commented that we, as normal citizens, failed to realize how law affects our everyday life.
While talking about violence, Dr. Hossain claimed that it was a common occurrence in today’s world, whether it was state-sponsored or carried out by non-state agencies. While the state had given some agencies the right to use force in Bangladesh, he personally felt that force was never a corrective measure. He repeatedly asserted that the old practice of using force in all spheres of our lives had to stop and to do so, he believed that discourse was required immensely on this matter.
On the issue of leading a good life, Dr. Hossain said that such a life could not be led devoid of ethics and moral principles by only acquiring material possessions for mere enjoyment. Moreover, he remarked that meaning of life was usually derived from character, philosophy and religion, but they were all social constructs just like the concept of a good and happy life.
During his elaborate discussion on ethics and morality, he opined that ethics should be studied as a course in Criminology in the undergraduate level in our universities. While exploring various branches of ethics, he specifically emphasized on applied ethics; i.e. ethics connected to moral issues related to applications of different professions.
Dr. Hossain drew a clear picture on how values and morals varied from place to place due to differences in the customs of the people and talked about particularism – to do something that was the best for the society at that particular moment.
Citing the examples of lawyers and policemen, i.e. criminal justice professionals, he vividly explained how particularism applied to their respective professional fields. He concluded by saying that it was the moral responsibility of today’s academicians to research and gather data in order to formulate policies for imparting moral teachings so that our generation could become the best of the best in future.
The lecture was attended by all students and faculty members of Law Department. It helped them grasp the concept of various categories of ethics and helped them realize that ethics and morality were not static, rather dynamic concepts. Law Faculty plans to host more such thought-provoking lectures on pressing social and legal issues in future.
Ali Mashraf is a student of Department of Law, University of Dhaka and a Special Correspondent at The FutureLaw Initiative. To contact him, send an email to [email protected]