Introspectionon Ethical Decision Making
Introspectionon Ethical Decision Making
AsCrisp and Slote (2012) note, the role of ethics in all spheres ofhuman life is indispensable. Ethical practices are significant infostering morality, order, and harmony within the society. They alsoalign human behaviors with the values and ideals of the society, andcan then be primarily seen as a critical success factor (Crisp &Slote, 2012).
Despitethe vast acknowledgment of its importance, the primary challengeremains how the ethics can be cultivated. Indeed, Carr and Steutel(2013) have observed that, in the institutional settings, thisproblemis manifestedregarding heightened scandals characterized bycorruptions, bribery, and abuse of power, workplace deviance, andmisuse of resources. Indeed, such a scenario elicits the question howsuch departure could be accounted. The purpose of this paper is toreflect on introspection on ethical decision-making processes.Ethical Decision Making (EDM) framework lends itself as one of themost popular approaches of conceptualizing the process of makingethical decisions. The model presupposes that the process comprisesof four stages: moral awareness, alternatives, judgment, andreflection (Darwall, 2013). A critical self-reflection based EDMframework reveals that external and personal factors constrainethical behaviors.
Stage1 Moral Awareness
Moralbehaviors largely determine the ability to command personal respectand earn professional recognition. The premises of judgment ofmorality are ethics, which are defined by cultural, religious ororganization norms (Louden, 2015). In this regard, an individualshould exhibit ethics at both personal and professional level.
Severalfactors could hinder a one from upholding ethical practices at bothpersonal and vocational level. These barriers include lack ofawareness, conflict of interests, and the competing cultural valuesand ideals. According to Swanton (2012), the lack of knowledge has todo with limited understanding concerning the available ethicalprinciples and cultural ideals, which make one fail to reflect themin personal and professional practices. Indeed, Louden (2015) hasnoted limited awareness account for a significant percentage ofworkplace deviance.
Conflictof interest describes a scenario in which an individual’s interestconflicts with the available ethical ideals, which eventually causeshim to prioritize personal interests. Taylor (2015) has discussedthis as the most common cause of moral deviance within theorganizations, manifested by incidents of corruption, misuse ofresources and abuse of power (Taylor, 2015).
Lastly,the competing cultural values and ideals are inherent to diversesettings, in which a person espoused to one culturalmodel mistakenlyapplies to a context in which another opposing principle is thoughtto be most appropriate (McCloskey, 2012). For instance, culturalpractices such as female genital mutilation may be welcome andsupported by a group of people from the communities that practice itbut will be considered unethical when practiced other communities.Indeed, as Louden (2015) notes, the issue of the competing culturalvalues is largely a problem of relativism versus absolutism, in whichrelativists advocate ethics should be judged based on cultureperspectives, while absolutists assert ethics should be universal.
Thelack of awareness can be addressed by seeking to understand theavailable ethical norms, principles, and values in a community. Theissue of conflict of interests can be resolved by nurturing desirablepersonal moral behaviors and strength to resist temptations. Lastly,the problem of the competing cultural values can be solved throughexercising cultural diversity and competence. According to Tavani(2012), cultural diversity and competence empower one to recognizethe inherent differences among people and accommodate themdecision-making processes. All the cases require learning, whichincludes through theory and practice experiences.
Stage2: Alternatives and Judgments
Theprocess of considering options and judging is a crucial part of theethical decision-making processes. A typical problem that calls for adecision is characterized by various competing alternatives that mustalways be considered before a choice is made (Taylor,2015).However, the major challenge is always about what should beconsidered as the best approach, and this is particularly because theissue there various competing theoretical models.
Forinstance, one of the notable theories is Kant’s hypothetical andcategorical imperatives’ discussions. A categorical imperative isdescribed as a universal, absolute moral obligation. Hypotheticalimperative differs from categorical imperative in the sense that itis neither absolute nor universal — certain interveningcircumstances guide them. In other words, a hypothetical imperativeis a representation of what is practically necessary to serve as analternative to willed actions. Kant considered that given morality isindependent on contingent facts inherent of human desires, there is aneed to appreciate categorical imperatives as superior moralguidelines applicable to all rational beings because it is based onreason (Faunce & Jefferys, 2012).Therefore, presented withchoices of objectivism and utilitarianism, Kant would supportobjectivism. Essentially, objectivism is categorical imperativewhereas utilitarianism is hypothetical imperative. Objectivismasserts that no matter the cultural differences, moral principles arestandard and universal — they are reasonable and objective to eachindividual. This matches categorical imperative, delineated byobjectivity and reasonableness. However, utilitarianism is sidelinedbecause it has no standard, neither is it absolute, apparentlysupported by hypothetical essential ingredients.
Anotherexample of a discussion on competing models in ethics is Egoism.Egoism model asserts that social contracts should be based onmorality to main order within the society. Therefore, this approachis opposed to utilitarianism, which would be concerned aboutpractices that maximize the outcomes, rather than morality (Russell,2013).The competing positions are problematic to ethics. For instance, ongun control subject, Egoism could encourage that a nation shouldlegalize gun controls, as long as it is aimed at fostering moralitywith the society.
Basedon the example of the marijuana debate, utilitarianism would guidethat decriminalization should be informed by the evaluation of theconsequences of criminalization and decriminalization, such thatdecriminalization should be chosen if is it more beneficial thatcostly. Therefore, egoism will obviously object decriminalization,considering the use of marijuana is widely associated with crimes anddisorderliness that would subvert morality. Utilitarianism woulddecriminalize marijuana because it does not only base on theassociated disorderliness tendency, but also other benefits such asrelated taxes, reduced pressure on anti-narcotic enforcement andability to assess the actual impact of marijuana on the society.Thus, utilitarianism will consider that the benefits ofdecriminalization outweigh the associated costs, yet it would also bea way of entrusting subjects with liberty to enjoy responsibly.
Thethird example of model premises is religious ethics, which assertsthat religious values should be at the core of human practices,regardless of other positions (Hursthouse,2013).For instance, in examining the question of whether to would supportuniversal healthcare, certain questions are crucial to religiousmodel. First, does universal healthcare align with religious values?Second, does universal healthcare assure equality that representsmeaningful options for all society members as the religion rules?Certainly, universal healthcare essentially targets to assureequality and liberty for all, as distributive justice ingredientsguide it. It is an inclusive scheme for all subjects, including themarginalized and mainstream society members. Mainstream religiousvalues call upon the society to help the need. In this regard, itwould meet the religious ethics support. Certainly, universalhealthcare is a healthcare scheme in which the government is incharge of the healthcare system, providing basic care for allsubjects in line with religious values.
Inexamining the discussion, it becomes quite clear no single approachis comprehensive to guide sound decisions. To a great extent, thevalidity of a theoretical model depends on the interveningcircumstances. For instance, one will not just act on an issuebecause the rule of law supports it — for example, a driverferrying a critically ill passenger may not be justified in observingthe road rules to drive at a slow speed, delaying the medicalattention. Similarly, one will not just support the legalization ofmarijuana by overlooking the social consequences and favoring itbecause of economic benefits. Moreover, one will not be justified toenjoy the liberty of robbing the wealthy people on the pretext ofpursuing economic equality.
Stage3 Decision and Action
Inconvention, the reasoning employed in determining the action tends tobe primarily informed three elements the law, virtues and whatmaximizes the outcomes. The reasoning of law is based on thestipulations of available rules and regulations. For instance, thedecision for same-sex marriage will only be justified as ethical whenthe law supports it, no matter the situation or other considerationsavailable.
Virtuesdescribe the ideals and norms of a society that transcendindividuals’ life in all spheres, both at personal and professionallevels. Unlike rules and regulations, virtues are not always set outor written. The choices for making the decision tend to be open, butmust be reasoned and supported by ethical imperatives (Ferrell& Fraedrich, 2013).Relating to the dilemma of same-sex marriage, typical virtue-basedreasoning would consider the social values attached to life, andweigh them against the justifications of persons seeking it.
Lastly,the approach of opting for a choice that maximizes the outcomes ispremised on utilitarianism. This view considers that the essence ofmaking decisions is always about creating positive outcomes and thatrules may always be flouted in favor for any alternative that wouldoptimize the results(Nussbaum,2013).Relating to the dilemma of same-sex marriage, a utilitarian thinkingwould be most interested in the aftermaths — in case there are nostrong reasons to subvert the available justifications, then therewould be no cause to reject it.
Whicheverthe premise, one can always make relatively best decisions, but theymay not be acted upon. There are various impediments to acting onbest decisions, but the most common include the lack of willpower,conflicting interests and the limited of resources. The lack ofwillpower is exhibited when a decision-maker loses interest or doesnot commit to implementing the made decisions (Gardiner,2015).Conflictof interest occurs when the decision made competes with personaldesires of the implementers, whichcauses them to prioritize theirinterests at the expense of what ought to be done (Faunce, 2012). Thebarrier of lack of resources is evidenced in the scenario in whichthe process of implementation of the made decision is costly, andpersons in charge can only opt for inferior alternatives (Taylor,2015).
Reflectionis imperative to the process of making sound ethical decisionsbecause it is essentially the source of relevant knowledge. Indeed,as Page (2013) notes, itis mainly a process by which a decision-makerlooks back to a scenario and considers whether alternatives wouldhave assured optimum outcomes, had they been adopted. Therefore,reflection creates the allowance to identify the caveats in thedecisions made, or approves it by finding stronger justifications.The essence of reflection is to improve future or impendingdecision-making processes and is hinged from the notion thatexperiences are always the good teacher. A typical thought processmay look at the experience of similar cases and seek to inquirewhether there are any lessons to borrow a leaf (Devettere,2012).
Inconclusion, the aim of this paper has been to reflect onintrospectionon ethical decision-making processes. A criticalself-reflection based EDMframework reveals that, indeed, ethical behaviors is constrained byexternal and personal factors. Moralawareness is important is important because it enables one toappraise the importance of ethical practice, which is the source ofpersonal respect and professional recognition. The process ofconsidering the alternatives and judging is essential to ethicaldecision-making processes, which are characterized by variouscompeting alternatives that must always be considered. However, themajor challenge is always what should be deliberated as the bestpremise, and this is particularly because there various competingtheoretical approaches. In convention, the reasoning employed indetermining the action tends to be primarilybased on three elementsthe law, virtues and what maximizes the outcomes. Reflection isimperative to the process of making sound ethical decisions becauseit is essentially the source of relevant knowledge. In this regard,the process of nurturing personal and professional ethics should beprimarilycultivated by laying emphasis on the four areas of EDM,which include moralawareness, alternatives, judgment, and reflection, nurturing strengthto overcome personal and external factors that impede making sounddecisions.
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