Ethical Decision Making

Ethical Decision Making


Discuss 2 categories of ethical theory

Identify 4 major ethical approaches and apply aspects of such in ethical decision-making
Apply the “Eight Steps of Ethical Decision Making” to ethical situations

This will help you to better understand the assignment:

Ethical dilemmas happen when there is a conflict of values, which make it difficult to decide what to do because the available choices all seem to have difficult, if not, insurmountable problems. Usually, there is a feeling of not knowing which way to turn – all directions seem bad.

For example, let’s pretend you are a real estate agent. A lady from out of town calls to ask you to list her deceased parent’s home. She is not sure what it is worth, but says she would be very happy to get even $50,000 for it. After looking at the home, you realize it is worth at least $75,000 and also notice it would be great fit for your brother who is looking. His budget is only $60,000. What do you do?

Keep in mind, while they often seem similar, morals differ from ethics. Morals are the beliefs that an individual or group has as to what is right or wrong. Ethics are the principles which help the individual or group decide what is good or bad. Morals are essentially what we “feel” is right or wrong and may differ from society to society and culture to culture. Ethics are the actions that are often a results of our moral beliefs. Therefore, in the example above, someone might feel it is morally wrong to sell the house for $50,000 knowing it is worth more. However, ethically, many properties sell for below value, so would accepting the $60,000 amount for your brother be wrong?

Learning how to navigate ethical dilemmas is important because they inevitably will be encountered in the workplace and the ability to solve them quickly and effectively is a prized skill. There are several ways to consider solving ethical dilemmas. One way to approach ethical dilemmas is through ethical analysis, which is the process of applying an ethical theory to the situation or looking at the situation from the standpoint of the theory. This helps to break the dilemma down and make it easier to grasp and make a decision with some conviction.

The great majority of ethical theories or approaches fall into one of two major categories: prescriptive or descriptive. Prescriptive ethical theories are interested in what a person should or ought to do given the ethical situation.

Prescriptive theories can be further subdivided into consequentialism and non-consequentialism. Consequentialists believe that in ethical decision-making the focus should be on the outcome or consequences. Good or moral decisions have good results and immoral ones have bad results.

In the scenario provided above using a consequentialism prescriptive theory, someone could evaluate that selling the home for less than its real value could potentially harm other property values in the area, have a negative impact on the realtor’s reputation and could prevent future referrals. Therefore, selling for below $75,000 is not a viable option.

Non-consequentialists believe that the focus should not be placed on the results, but instead the motivations and intentions of the person making the decision. Examples of non-consequentialism include deontology and virtue ethics.

In the scenario provided, a non-consequentialist approach would consider that selling the home for $60,000 is still over what the individual selling was hoping to get for the house, so this could be viewed as a “positive.” It also stays within the realtor’s brother’s budget, which could bring a buyer quickly, and be a “win” for both parties.

Descriptive theories, such as the psychological approach, point out that there are other necessary factors involved in making ethical decisions, such as cognitive development and gender.

As you can see, several factors play into one’s ability to solve ethical dilemmas.

Check out the resources below as well to help you in addressing this week’s discussion. (Links to an external site.)

Last Updated on February 10, 2019