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Quick Notes on Ethical Decision Making

Decision-making refers to the process of selecting a course of action among several alternatives based on available information.

It involves assessing options, considering potential outcomes, and making a choice based on rationality and/or intuition.

Effective decision-making is considered essential across personal, professional, and organizational success.

Ethical decision-making depends on the context and specific ethical framework being used. 

However, commonly accepted approaches typically follow these steps:

1. Identify the ethical dilemma: Recognize that there is a decision to be made that involves conflicting values, principles, or interests.

2. Gather relevant information: Collect all pertinent facts and information related to the situation, including stakeholders involved, consequences of different actions, and any applicable laws or regulations.

3. Identify stakeholders: Determine who will be affected by the decision and consider their interests, rights, and perspectives.

4. Consider ethical principles: Reflect on the ethical principles or values that are relevant to the situation, such as honesty, integrity, fairness, respect for human rights, or utilitarianism.

5. Explore alternatives: Generate and evaluate various courses of action that could be taken to address the ethical dilemma, considering both short-term and long-term consequences.

6. Evaluate consequences: Assess the potential outcomes of each alternative, considering the impact on stakeholders and the extent to which the proposed actions uphold ethical principles.

7. Make a decision: Choose the most ethical course based on the information gathered, the principles considered, and the consequences evaluated. And then put the course of action into practice, ensuring that it is carried out effectively and responsibly.

9. Reflect and learn: After implementing the decision, reflect on the process and outcomes, considering what went well and what could be improved for future ethical decision-making.

10. Monitor and adjust: Continuously monitor the situation to ensure that the decision remains ethical and effective, and be willing to adjust or revise the course of action if new information or circumstances arise.

By following these steps, individuals and organizations can attempt to navigate ethical dilemmas systematically and thoughtfully, striving to make morally sound and socially responsible decisions.

Factors that influence Ethical Decision Making 

Ethical decision-making is influenced and shaped by various internal and external factors, including: 

Cognitive biases such as bandwagon effect or hindsight bias

Organizational culture, leadership, and institutional policies within a professional context

Social pressures, peer influence, and the desire for social acceptance

Moral development, education, and training

And finally, the consequences, risks, and benefits associated with different courses of action.


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