Critical Thinking: Strategies in Decision Making
In today's business and personal world, ethical decisions are made on a daily basis. Most of these decisions are based on company ground rules. The others are based on personal ground rules. All decisions can have a number of ground rules that help us determine whether our decision is ethical or unethical. Each decision whether it is based on company or personal ground rules will have its own set of implications. In the following paragraphs I will discuss the impacts of ethics on decision-making, discuss the elements of an ethically defensible decision, define what the ground rules are; what they could be and what they should be, discuss the ethical implications of the decision, and explain how the decision may change the ground rules.
Ethics is a standard that tells us how we should behave. It is based on moral duty and includes a code of values that guides our choices and actions. No person with a strong character lives without such a code. Ethics is more than doing what you must do. It is doing what you should do. Because acting ethically sometimes means not doing what we want to do, ethics is often an exercise in self-control. Ethics involves seeing the difference between right and wrong. It is a commitment to do what is right, good and proper. Because doing the right thing can cost us more in friendship, money, prestige or pleasure than we may want to pay, practicing ethics, like exercising character, takes courage.
Ethics refers to principles that define behavior as right, good and proper. Such principles do not always dictate a single "moral" course of action, but provide a means of evaluating and deciding among competing options.
The terms "ethics" and "values" are not interchangeable. Ethics is concerned with how a moral person should behave, whereas values are the inner judgments that determine how a person actually behaves (Josephson's, 2002). Values concern ethics when they pertain to beliefs about what is right and wrong. Most values, however, have nothing to do with ethics. For instance, the desire for health and wealth are values, but not ethical values.
Making consistently ethical decisions is difficult. Most decisions have to be made in the context of economic, professional and social pressures, which can sometimes challenge our ethical goals and conceal or confuse the moral issues. In addition, making ethical choices is complex because in many situations there are a multitude of competing interests and values. Other times, crucial facts are unknown or ambiguous. Since many actions are likely to benefit some people at the expense of others, the decision maker must prioritize competing moral claims and must be proficient at predicting the likely consequences of various choices. An ethical person often chooses to do more than the law requires and less than the law allows.
Any decision affecting other people has ethical...