I am against the use of eminent domain in the 4th Ward to acquire land for a public park.
A government legally exercises eminent domain when it takes private property for public use, gives the owner of that property just compensation and acts according to a constitutionally supported statutory power.
However, strict compliance with the legal elements of eminent domain does not always justify its use. I feel that ethical justification is also needed when the reason for the taking is not to satisfy an absolute public need.
One may argue that ethically we should implement policy that creates the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people, (Utilitarianism). In this case, taking land away from a small minority of citizens and converting it into something the greater public can enjoy accomplishes this objective. Therefore, use of eminent domain is justified.
One may also argue that ethically we should implement policy in which we treat humanity, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end, (Kantianism). In this case, forcefully taking land away from a minority so that the majority may enjoy it is like treating some of our fellow human beings as means to an end. Therefore, use of eminent domain is not justified.
Both ethical arguments are equally applicable to our eminent domain hypothetical; however, neither is more persuasive. When a public decision calls for ethical justification which is irresolvable then we should take a better route; this means not using eminent domain.
2nd Ward Resident