Ethics is defined as “standards of behavior that tell us how human beings ought to act” (ethics article). Furthermore, the article states ethics is not religion, feelings or science. The conclusion of this defining section questions the origin and usage of ethics.
The next section introduces five sources of ethical standards: the Utilitarian Approach, the Rights Approach, the Fairness and Justice Approach, the Common Good Approach and the Virtue Approach. The Utilitarian Approach, weighs the costs and benefits of each stakeholder in the ethical dilemma. The Rights Approach emphasizes human dignity and morality. The Fairness and Justice Approach relies on the equal treatment of all human beings; what is equal is what is fair. The Common Good Approach states what is good for the vast majority of people is ethical. The Virtue Approach, considers the most ethical option to be the closest to human ideals like truth, beauty and love. In comparing these approaches, the article indicates decision makers need a framework to guide them into which approach suits the ethical dilemma best.
The final section explains the steps in a framework for ethical decision making. Recognizing an ethical issue is the first step because it exposes decisions which may be harmful to others. The second step is getting the facts of the dilemma to analyze the most important stakeholders as well as known and unknown facts. The third step evaluates all of the options by using the sources of ethical standards as a guide. The fourth step is deciding on a standard and implementing it, and the final step is reflecting on the outcome of the decision.
This article gives its reader a starting point to make ethical decisions by defining ethics, describing the sources of ethical standards and