Unethical Rationalization

Table of Content

Classical economic philosophies suggest that man is egotistical and focused on satisfying his own needs. When people encounter difficult ethical challenges they often solicit the question, “What should I do? ” It is naive to assume that everyone retains a strong moral compass and does the ;right thing’ even in small situations. Pinching a little piece of the pie, bending a rule once in a while, occasionally telling a white lie or just looking the other way for a moment, are common place in business.

It is not the unethical act itself, but it is the rationalization of the unethical behavior that is the focus of this paper. Some of these rationalizations are honest misunderstandings, some are intentional misrepresentations, some are self-serving excuses, and some, simply make no sense at all. This paper will discuss 5 reasons people rationalize their bad decisions. The Golden Rationalization “Everybody does it” is a rationalization that has been used to excuse ethical misconduct since the beginning of society.

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It is based on the blemished theory that the unethical nature of an act is somehow lessened by the umber of people who do it, and if “everybody does it,” then it is unconditionally okay for you to do it as well. People who cheat on a test, commit adultery, lie under oath or use illegal drugs of course don’t believe that what they are doing is right because “everybody does it. ” They usually are arguing that they shouldn’t be singled out for criticism if “no one else” is.

If someone really is disputing that an action is no longer unethical because so many people do it, then that person is either in dire need of ethical tutoring, or an idiot (Marshall, 2012). Ethical Vigilantism The Boondocks Saints is a crime thriller that was released in 1999. The film tells the story of two Irish Catholic brothers who set out on what they believe is a mission from God to punish those who do harm to others, and attempt to wipe out the entire South Boston criminal underworld, or in other words, they are performing ethical vigilantism (Weeks, 2012).

The central theme Of this movie is a little heavy when comparing it to ethical vigilantism in the workplace. When a person who has been denied a raise he was guaranteed secretly charges personal expenses to a company credit card because “the many owes him,” that is ethical vigilantism. Or, as John Marshall of Ethics Alarms, an ethical theory blob describes ethical vigilantism as; “Addressing a real or imagined injustice by employing remedial cheating, lying, or other unethical means” (Marshall, 2012). The outcome of ethical vigilantism is individual dishonesty, harm to innocent individuals, and the sacrifice of ones ethical principals.

Nobody is due the right to lie, cheat, or damage others (Marshall, 2012). The Unethical Tree in the Forest ‘ ‘What they don’t know won’t hurt them. ” so says the routinely unethical, and the rarely unethical. This statement is often used by the independent observers who don’t want to admit they have strayed. “These offenders will preach that as long as the lie, swindle, cheat, or crime is never discovered, it hardly happened at all… In fact, one might as well say it didn’t happen, so you can’t really say anything really was wrong… Right?

Wrong” (Marshall, 2012). One can object, like Einstein: “Do you mean to tell me the moon isn’t there until you look at it? ” No. A significant percentage of time, the wrongful act is discovered. Even if it is not, the unethical nature of the act is genuine, ND is present regardless of how many people know about it. “Just as a tree that falls in the forest with nobody around both makes noise and causes damage, so undetected, well-disguised or covered-up wrongs are exactly as wrong as those that end up on the front pages” (Marshall, 2012).

The unethical tree in the forest is one of the less intelligent of rationalizations. “A cancer you don’t know about can still kill you” (Marshall, 2012). The Futility Illusion “If don’t do it, somebody else will. ” “The rationale here is that there is no point in doing the right thing, because the wrong thing will occur navy’s” Hemi, 2014). The futility illusion is a famous and time-honored rationalization that evades doing the right thing because the wrong thing is assured to occur anyway.

An example of this is when journalists rush to be the first to turn rumors into front page “scoops,” or when middle managers go along with corporate mischief directed by their bosses, making the calculation that their refusal will only hurt them without preventing the damage they have been asked to cause. This kind of judgment is flawed and self-serving. Sometimes someone else won’t do it. The individual’s determination to do right is always ascribable in itself. The Futility Illusion is just a poor substitute to for those who lack the nerve to do the right thing (Marshall, 2012).

The Perfection Diversion “Nobody’s Perfect! ” or “Everybody makes mistakes! ” is a legitimate defense if an individual has been accused of not being perfect. Usually, however, it is an attempt to lessen the magnitude of authentic moral misconduct (Hemi, 2014). When more than an honest mistake or single occurrence of bad judgment was involved, and the individual’s conduct implies a broader lack of character or ethical sensitivity, “Nobody’s perfect! ” and “Everybody makes mistakes! Are not only improper and unrelated words to use, but are presumptively efforts to change the subject entirely.

The fact that nobody is perfect does not mean that it isn’t necessary and appropriate to point out unethical conduct when it occurs. “Though nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, we are all still accountable for the mistakes we make” (Marshall, 2012). Avoiding Unethical Behavior Unethical behaviors can plague a workplace. Whether an executive steals money from the company or an associate falsifies documents, unethical behaviors can damage a company’s credibility, causing the business to lose customers and ultimately shut down (Brooking, 2013).

Unethical behavior can be avoided in the workplace by following a few common guidelines: 1 . Create a Code of Conduct. “A written code of conduct provides employees and managers with an overview of the type of conduct and behaviors the company expects” (Brooking, 2013). 2. Lead By Example. “Employees look to business owners and managers for direction on how they should conduct themselves” (Brooking, 2013). 3. Reinforce Consequences. “Business owners must hold their employees accountable when they act unethically, and all employees should be held to the same standards” (Brooking, 2013). . Show Employees Appreciation. “Loyal employees feel that a company values the hard work they put into accomplishing tasks on a daily basis. A loyal employee is less likely to act unethically” (Brooking, 2013). Conclusion The art of working and doing business is creating win-win situations, in which people help one another while also helping themselves, where the end result is making an honest living. Many people, in an effort to get to the top, do so by impressing their desires on others, or they even attempt to destroy people standing in their way. When they reach the top, they may be paranoid that others are trying to knock them off their pedestal. Sometimes they develop an impostor complex, caused by deep insecurities that they aren’t good enough and that these flaws may be exposed” (George, 2011 TO demonstrate that they aren’t impostors, they drive so hard for perfection that they are unable to acknowledge their failures. When confronted by their failures, they convince themselves and others that these problems are neither their fault nor their responsibility, and behave irrationally to explain their unethical behavior.

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Unethical Rationalization. (2018, Feb 01). Retrieved from


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