Decision Making Model for Resolving Ethical Issues

  1. Determine the Facts

A. What we know.What, where, when, who, how. What do we know already?

B. What else you would like to know. What other facts would you like to know;what questions, if answered, would help you make your decision?

  1. Define the Ethical Issues

A. Who are the Stakeholders. Who has something to gain or lose?

B. Framing the issue. (Focus on “right vs. right”.)Focus on the Moral aspects. Use “values” language. For example: loyalty to friend vs. honesty to administration(E.g. values include non-injury, fairness, compassion, autonomy, benevolence, etc.)Other Examples: – when student swears at school, an ethical issue can be: freedom of expression vs. respecting someone else- when two students fight, an ethical issue is: right to “defend yourself” vs. non-injury of another

  1. Specify the AlternativesList the major alternative courses of action, including those that represent some form of compromise or point between simply doing and not doing something. Example: Should students be required to do community service? Go beyond “Yes” or “No”. Example Alternatives: could do once a week, once a month, once a year, during school, after school, mandatory, volunteer, detention, group project, a class “elective”, etc.
  2. Assess the ConsequencesIdentify short and long term, positive and negative consequences. Assess consequences of each alternative in Step 3. Which alternatives are most moral? Look at Likelihood and Significance of each Consequence. Optional: Use a “+” to identify those options in Step 3 which have positive and healthy moral consequences; use a “-” to identify those that do not. After looking at the pro/con of each alternative, make an overall comment about that one option. E.g. This alternative is too risky and may harm the student’s welfare too much – avoid it! OR, I like this option as one of the possible steps to implement.
  3. Make your decisionBalance the consequences with your primary principles or values and select the alternative that fits best! Borrow from ethical theories of Kant, Utilitarianism, Virtue, Care, Justice, Ross’s prima facie duties. Also consider the norms/codes of your community, profession [NEA Code of Ethics]. Issues such as one’s “intention” or “motivations” apply here.Do a “Gut Check”. Check your decision: This is utilizing Ross’s moral intuition…our 6thsense. Are you at peace with the decision? Would your God or your Mom be proud of you? Would you mind your decision being on the front page of the newspaper?
  4. Reflection and Adjustment. See how your decision played out. How did it impact those who were most effected by your decision. If need be, consider making some alterations to the original plan. Reflect and learn from the results for future decisions.

Sample Solution