First, why focus on making ethical decisions? I would argue that ethical decision-making is at the heart of workplace ethics. Ethics programs also have training, communications, advice, etc. But if we get ethical decision-making right, we get the most important part of workplace ethics right.
Ethical decision-making is also key to getting policy ethics right [i.e. the ethics of big policy issues such as genetic engineering, just war, animal welfare, etc.]. Policy ethics uses the same values as workplace ethics, and is enhanced by an ethical workplace.
So ethical decision-making is critical to two great branches of applied ethics – ethics in the workplace itself, and in the strategic directions of organizations and society. But let me focus more on the workplace.
I want to be very practical – I am not talking about ethical decision-making in an idealized or in an academic way – I am talking about making ethically defensible decisions in the modern organization. That is our concrete goal.
Conclusion 1: KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)
There is a danger in being too simplistic about the art of decision-making.
• we don’t want to reduce ethics to a few moral dictates [don’t bribe]
• decisions have to made in wildly different circumstances by very different types of people
There is a greater danger if we don’t keep it simple and short.
• people’s attention spans are getting shorter
• the word ethics is overused – in a wide variety of contexts
• but ethics is still a scary concept
But serious consequences follow from the decision to keep things simple! We have to look for the core concepts, and leave the finer points aside. The... [continues]
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