Ethical Decision Making and Behavior

13474 Words Dec 12th, 2012 54 Pages
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Ethical Decision Making and Behavior
As we practice resolving dilemmas we find ethics to be less a goal than a pathway, less a destination than a trip, less an inoculation than a process. —Ethicist Rushworth Kidder

WHAT’S AHEAD
This chapter surveys the components of ethical behavior—moral sensitivity, moral judgment, moral motivation, and moral character—and introduces systematic approaches to ethical problem solving. We’ll take a look at four decision-making formats: Kidder’s ethical checkpoints, the SAD formula, Nash’s 12 questions, and the case study method. After presenting each approach, I’ll discuss its relative advantages and disadvantages.

U

nderstanding how we make and follow through on ethical decisions is the first step to
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A number of factors prevent us from recognizing ethical issues. We may not factor ethical considerations into our typical ways of thinking or mental models.4 We may be reluctant to use moral terminology (values, justice, right, wrong) to describe our decisions because we want to avoid controversy or believe that keeping silent will make us appear strong and capable.5 We may even deceive ourselves into thinking that we are acting morally when we are clearly not, a process called ethical fading. The moral aspects of a decision fade into the background if we use euphemisms to disguise unethical behavior, numb our consciences through repeated misbehavior, blame others, and claim that only we know the “truth.”6 Fortunately, we can take steps to enhance our ethical sensitivity (and the sensitivity of our fellow leaders and followers) by doing the following:
• • • • • • • • Active listening and role playing Imagining other perspectives Stepping back from a situation to determine whether it has moral implications Using moral terminology to discuss problems and issues Avoiding euphemisms Refusing to excuse misbehavior Accepting personal responsibility Practicing humility and openness to other points of view

In addition to these steps, we can also increase ethical sensitivity by making an issue more salient. The greater the moral intensity of an issue, the more likely it is that decision makers will take note of it and respond
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