Benefits of Utilizing the Process in Making Ethical Decisions
Because of the steady stream of modern advancement over the years, mankind is faced with ethical dilemmas almost on a daily basis. In the past, the concept of social responsibility was often limited to the impact one’s decisions would have on their immediate community but with today’s connections, choices made could definitely have far reaching effects.
Now, when faced with ethical dilemmas there are even more far reaching effects in the choices we make. In order to limit those effects from our decisions, one must first make a logical analyzation of the issues involved in order to determine which course would be best. However, to do this, we must understand why these types of situations can be so distressing.
One of the reasons for this is because ethical dilemmas force us to choose between two very desirable options that are often in opposition to one another. Quite often, when we think of ethics, our minds automatically drift towards the weightier issues we are forced to look at; abortion, gay rights, and cloning are perfect examples. While these can be very controversial topics from which great debates may spring there are other subtler ethical issues that can actually have a greater impact on our lives.
It is far more likely that a student will be faced with an ethical dilemma in deciding whether or not to report cheating by one of his classmates. He may be faced with the risk of exposure and becoming ostracized from his social peers. On the one hand, he knows that cheating is morally wrong and could lead his classmate down a path to more risky behavior in his future but by the same token, he may also recognize the unwritten code of conduct among his peers that could label him as a ‘snitch’ that is not to be trusted. This could have lasting repercussions for him as well.
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For that reason, there is a process that should go through everyone’s minds when making a decision on controversial ethical challenges they may face. Several factors should be taken into consideration to help one determine how to address the situation.
First, one must ask themselves: who will be affected by the decision and to what extent. Depending on the circumstances, this may not be easy information to ascertain. For example, in an employment situation, a disgruntled employee may be discovered stealing clients from the company to set up his or her own business. The direct impact on the company may not be readily evident nor will the reporting of the activity have an immediate impact on the reporter’s life. This can make it hard to decide what is right or wrong. For this reason, many companies have already established ethical guidelines for their employees to follow.
Once you’ve determined the potential impact of a decision, it is wise to take a progressive view of the situation.(1)
- Recognize the issue at stake. What is the actual moral issue that is being compromised?
- Evaluate the consequences. What will be the impact of your decision on everyone concerned?
- And once you’ve made your decision, follow through. By executing an action to resolve the problem you are not only showing everyone concerned your moral character but you are also reinforcing your own inner conscious that will lay the groundwork for heavier decisions in the future.
The fact is that there is much more involved in making moral choices that go far beyond the issue being raised. When you make a choice that goes against what is popular opinion, you are building up an inner strength that can not be learned through books, lectures, or any other academic means, but can only be acquired through facing up to the hard choices in life.
In reality, it is impossible to get through life without making hard decisions but those that do, especially in smaller things, will find that while it never really gets easier, it does make them stronger at each stage of the process.
So, facing an ethical dilemma can have a direct impact on a wide range of people both directly and indirectly. But the ability to take a stand on an unpleasant issue can actually do you more good than it will help the other person. It builds character and helps to create your own unique personality that you can share with the rest of the world.