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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ethical Decision Making #1

A few years ago, I took a class called "Ethics in Organizational Leadership" and it was one of the most directly applicable classes I have ever taken.


During the weeks of reading, writing, collaborating and discussing, I learned so much about myself and my normal propensity towards decision making.


The learnings from this class have been very helpful in my decision making from that time even until today.


The next three posts, I would like to dedicate to some writings I did in that class where I looked at three different ethical decision making models. My hope and prayer is that one of these models will be an effective tool to aid others in the decisions they may be working through...


Compare and Contrast three Ethical Decision Making Models

The three ethical decision making models outlined in this paper are taken from the following sources…


· Moral Choices, Rae (1995)

· Just Business, Hill (1997)

· The Discipline of Building Character,
Badaracco (1998)



Each model helps give a process that will prove helpful in making ethical decisions. Each model also emphasizes the fact that doing the right thing, and making ethical decisions are not always easy, and many times require us to look deeply at who we are, and what shapes us personally.



In this paper I will outline the basic premise of each model, as well as compare and contrast the models.




1. Moral Choices - In the book Moral Choices, the author gives an insightful introduction to ethics where he poses the question “Why study ethics?” He states that “Ethics are important because moral questions are at the heart of life’s most important issues.



Morality is primarily concerned with questions of right and wrong, the ability to distinguish between the two, and the justification of the distinction.”



I think this statement is at the heart of the process of ethical decision making that he outlines in the book. If one is going to be able to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong and be able to justify the distinction, then a process that will help ensure that the right questions are asked in determining the best decision is crucial.



Rae seeks to help in this process by proposing the following ethical decision making model…


1. Gather the facts (Two questions are critical)

- What do we know?

- What do we need to know?



2. Determine the ethical issues

- What are the competing interests in the ethical decision?


3. What principles have a bearing on the case?

- What principles carry more weight than others?

- Biblical principles

- Constitution


- Natural Law etc.


4. List the alternatives

- What are the alternative courses of action?


5. Compare the alternatives with the principles

- Can a clear decision be reached at this point?


6. Consider the consequences

- List both positive and negative consequences of the decision to be made


7. Make a decision

- Ethical decisions often have no easy answers

- Which decision has the least amount of negative consequences?



Seeking to make wise decisions, and trusting that you are as well,

Brent

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