Ethical Decision Making

One confusing process that everyone encounters everyday is ethical decision making. People may not notice this but it is constantly being used.

Any discipline is greatly affected by how people utilize decision making and how they incorporate ethics in that process.

Businesses, medical issues, political issues are only some of the genres where this could apply. But what does it take for a decision to be ethical?

Experts say that if a decision is morally and legally accepted by the larger community, then that decision is ethical. The questionable term in that definition is the word ‘legally’.

There are some ethical decisions that might not conform to the rules and regulations of the government but may still be classified as morally and ethically correct. The term ethics is used to describe a set of standards and principles which dictate how a person acts and behaves.

All persons with strong characters live with their own code of ethics. People make decisions every single day. These decisions might differ from each other but most decisions are chosen to do what is right.

A person’s set of principles may differ from another person’s views. This is because of the influence that the person acquired while growing up. Family is one very great source of principles. Culture and religion may also dictate a person’s set of standards. Experience is one of the best ways to learn about ethics too. Through experience, people will realize the effect of a decision to themselves and to other people as well.

Professionally speaking, a formal code of ethics is usually rolled out by companies to assist employees in their decision making dilemmas. These codes are created by the company to make sure that everybody is treated equally and employees respect each other’s rights. Since ethical decision making is very helpful in the business level, it is imperative for companies to create an ethics team who will formulate a code of ethics.


There are also ways on how to effectively make an ethical decision. The very first thing to do is to identify if there is an actual problem. This is important so that you will be aware that this problem needs your attention. Then identify if it is an ethical issue or not. Relevant and accurate information must be gathered carefully. Remember, jumping into conclusions because of personal intuition is not what ethical decision making is all about. Evaluate all of the alternatives based on the information that has been gathered.

Different approaches like Rights Based approach, Utilitarian approach, Common Good approach, Virtue approach and Fairness or Justice Approach can be used. After thorough thinking, make the decision. The process of thinking may take some time but making the actual decision should not be delayed. Longer periods of evaluating the problem will just lead to mental exhaustion which will hinder a person from thinking correctly. After the decision has been made, examine the effects of the choice that you have made. Reflect on the lessons that you have learned from the experience and apply it to the next challenges.

Also, think about how your decision would affect the other parties. Before choosing which decision to make, examine who will benefit and harm from this action. Always make sure that the final decision will end up reducing harm. Check your core values for accuracy. Are you sure that what you thought was right and wrong are correct? Do not be afraid to ask for help from a third party who is not involved in the process. A good test if you were successful in ethical decision making is the Golden Rule. The effect of your decision to others will also affect their decisions on you.

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