Ethics permeates all aspects of society, both on an individual and societal level for it involves human interaction. The ethical decision-making models, like humans – are complex and do not exist in isolation, thus finding a set of uniform ethical values and standards in a multicultural society is highly challenging. This essay will briefly overview four Normative theories which help guide ethical decision making, regarding the hypothetical scenario case given from the teacher’s perspective.
Main Ethical Issue
This scenario offers a plethora of complex situations; however the main ethical issue appears to surround the lack of safety, understanding and respect due to different cultural views, perspectives, values and needs of others.
In Consequentialism, the moral worth of an action is chosen (to be right or wrong) based primarily on the consequences or outcomes that will arise from performing an act (Preston, 2001). Right acts produce good consequences and eliminate possible negative outcomes. This perspective is most commonly utilised by teachers (Dr A. Sammel, personal communication, July 7, 2010) and society generally. Although there are several consequentialism perspectives, this paper focuses on the following key areas: (a) Egoism; (b) Altruism, and (c) Utilitarianism.
Egoism involves considering one’s wellbeing, welfare or self interest (Burgh, Field & Freakley, 2006), placing focus primarily on the individual, negating considerations for others. Three main forms of Egoism exist: (1) Physiological - teacher considers their own welfare and nobody else; (2) Ethical - an action taken by the teacher that is morally right to maximise one’s self wellbeing, and (3) Rational- the action by the teacher that is rational to maximise one’s self wellbeing, (Shaver, 2002).
Applying Egosim in this scenario would suggest that the teacher ought to think of self- preservation, ensuring their wellbeing both personally and professionally. This is based on Del’s family verbally threatening them outside the school context. This situation escalated initially from Del’s blood nose and lack of inclusive practices within the classroom. The best outcome for the teacher is to remove themselves from the immediate controversial environment until a safe and secure one is established. Arguably, the teacher should have dealt with the lunchtime situation when it occurred. For this possibility to be achieved the teacher requires support systems (advice and assistance) from the school and union to assist in immediately establishing working solutions.
An Altruism perspective is identified as a person conducting a selfless act without gain (Preston, 2001). However, research has identified in Altruism that the individual will also gain benefit from their actions regardless (Singer, 1995).
When utilising Altruism in this scenario the teacher needs to consider the immediate and long term outcomes for others, they are: