Ethical Decision-Making: Case Studies

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Decision point: What would you do? In Scenario 1, I would return the iPod to the school's lost and found or post a notice advertising a 'found' iPod in the school newspaper (it would be easy enough to identify the legitimate owner, as I would merely ask the respondent to identify the songs on the playlist). The fact that I liked some of the songs and that no one saw me find the iPod is no relevance. On a deontological moral level, it is wrong to take something valuable I know is not mine, and if someone found my lost iPod I would want them to behave in the same manner (Alexander & Moore 2012). I am particularly sympathetic to the owner because it is very easy to misplace a small, expensive piece of equipment. Emotional factors which influence my decision-making are the iPod's expense and the time and effort it takes to assemble a playlist. However, I admit that my 'character' and my sense of wrong and right may be more based in a subjective moral sense of right and wrong, since I probably would not consider it stealing if I found a relatively trivial sum (such as a dollar and some loose change) under my seat and would keep that money. My view of my virtuous character in that scenario would remain changed (Hursthouse 2012). Both the owner and I have an ethical 'stake' in my decision, according to a virtue ethics perspective. My character is at stake in my personal view of the situation as well as the owner's desire to have his or her iPod returned, versus a deontological
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