The intense pressures of business may not always allow time for reflection, and the high stakes may tempt us to compromise our ideals. Many of us already have well-developed ethical outlooks but by considering various approaches to ethical decision making, we are better equipped to make the right choices when the need arises.
Joseph Weiss (2009) identifies fundamental ethical principles that guide decision making: utilitarianism, universalism, rights, justice, and ethical irate. John Rails contributes his Theory of Justice as Fairness as another approach for consideration in resolving ethical dilemmas. Utilitarianism The utilitarian view states that an action is considered right or good based on its consequences (2009). The utilitarian approach tries both to increase the good done and to reduce the harm done.
An ethical corporate action is the one that produces the greatest good and does the least harm for all who are affected, including customers, employees, shareholders, the community, and the environment. Universalism The universalistic approach holds that moral authority is determined by the extent to which the intention of an act treats all persons with respect (2009). Respect and compassion for all others are a requirement of this reasoning.
This approach also calls attention to the common conditions that are important to the welfare of everyone: a system of laws, effective police and fire departments, health care, a public educational system, or even public recreational areas (USC. Due, 2012). Rights The principle of rights says that people have a dignity based on their ability to choose freely what they do with their lives. On the basis of such dignity, they have a right to pursue freedom of speech, choice, happiness, and self-respect.
It is a fairly common belief that these rights imply duties, and in particular, the duty to respect others’ rights (2012). Justice The justice approach suggests that “moral authority is determined by the extent opportunities, wealth, and burdens are fairly distributed among all” (Weiss, 2009). This principle can be used to say that ethical actions treat all people equally. Ethical Virtue The virtue approach to ethics tells that ethical actions ought to be consistent tit ideal virtues that provide for the full development of our humanity.
These virtues, such as truthfulness, integrity, and honesty, are dispositions and habits that enable us to act according to the highest potential of our character (USC. Due, 2012). Theory of Justice as Fairness The original position is a fair, impartial point Of view that should be applied to our reasoning about the fundamental principles of justice. With this point of view, we are asked to imagine ourselves as free and equal people who jointly agree upon and commit to principles of social and political justice (Freeman, 2012).
The veil of ignorance plays a large part in the concept of original position. Freeman (2012) states, ‘to insure impartiality of judgment, the parties are deprived of all knowledge of their personal characteristics and social and historical circumstances. ” This concept secures for everyone the means that individuals need to pursue their interests and to maintain their self-respect as free and equal people. Ethical decision making is rarely easy but business executives have several principles to consider for analyzing ethical dilemmas. There are times one approach will be more appropriate than another.
By taking time to consider the various possibilities, we are more likely to make decisions we believe is ethically correct.