Philosophical Approach to Ethical Decision-Making

Topics: Ethics, Philosophy, Morality Pages: 3 (990 words) Published: February 16, 2013
CRJ 220
Philosophical Approach to Ethical Decision Making
Tasha L. Thomas

Ethics is the branch of philosophy that examines questions of morality, or right and wrong. In this paper we will discuss the philosophical approaches used in ethical decision making. The two approaches that will be elaborated on are the utilitarian approach and the universal approach. Several questions will be addressed, (1) what is the utilitarian and universal approach? (2) How do we use them in the ethical decision making process and (3) examples of how it relate in the field of Criminal Justice? When conflict arises it’s not always possible to decide who is right or wrong; however our moral responsibility is to resolve problems to the best of our ability. The utilitarian and universal theories are two of several philosophical approaches or methods that can be implemented when making these types of decisions (Zalta & Geoff, 2008).

The Utilitarian Approach:
Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy. The utilitarian approach to ethical decision making focuses on taking the action that will result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It also focuses on the consequences of the course of action and policy, as well as the affects it has on the well-being of the people directly or indirectly impacted by that action or policy. This approach is used to promote the welfare of everybody by maximizing benefits and minimizing harm (Zalta & Geoff, 2008). For instance, when faced with a situation your first thought or question is what should you do? Once you assess the situation then you would apply which ethical decision is the best action to take. If you implement the utilitarian approach you did so with the intent of producing the greatest balance over harm....

References: Velasquez, M., Claire, A., Shanks, M. M., & S.J. (n.d.). Markula Center for Applied Ethics. Retrieved from Santa Clara University:
Williams, C. R., & Arrigo, B. A. (2008). Is Morality Relative? The variability of Norms and Values. In C. R. Williams, & B. A. Arrigo, Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice (p. 77). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Zalta, E. N., & Geoff, S.-M. (2008). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosphy :
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