Ethical Decision Making: What Are the Elements and the Impact?

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To answer this question, we must first examine the thinking process and define the meaning of morality. We continually make decisions without regard to ethics or moral values on a daily basis. We can define morality as a system of shared rules, or values that dictate specific behavior during the interaction of people. Morality or moral value is about doing the right thing and brings up questions on how we ought to act in any given situation. According to John Wilcox and Susan Ebbs, in The Leadership Compass, "Moral behavior is concerned primarily with how we treat one another individually and in groups… - the key then is that morality brings us in contact with others and asks us to consider the quality of that contact" (Shanks, 1997). This paper will discuss the elements of an ethically defendable decision and the impact of ethics on decision-making. Elements and Ground Rules

As in problem solving, we must first identify the problem, so to in morally sound decision-making, we must first identify or recognize a moral issue. We do this by asking questions that determining whether an action is right or wrong according to the standards of a given society. What is acceptable in one society may not be morally acceptable in another; however, the ethical relevancy of the behavior does not change. Questions like, Will this behavior cause harm to someone? Could this behavior cause a conflict that could be harmful to others, to animals, to the environment, or society in general? Do we have the facts regarding the incident we need to make a decision on? Who is involved and what are their stakes in the outcome? Who cares? Is there greater risk for one group over another? We must identify these facts and put them into the proper context to make the proper decision. Is it acceptable to lie to protect someone from physical harm? Although an individual may suffer a harmful consequence, is it better to be truthful regardless? We always have options,...
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