an integral part of effective leadership and impact the decisions we make. In order to understand the topic of ethical
decision making, we must first determine how “ethics” are derived. Ethics arise from habit and they are influenced
by our values and morals. Our values are fluid and can change. They are our personal beliefs which are influenced by factors
- Parents and other early care givers
- Life experiences
- Our culture and social surroundings
are more fundamental and it a nutshell, it helps us determine what is right, and what is wrong. Velasquez (1998, n.p) lists
the five characteristics that distinguish moral standards as:
issues that can seriously injure or benefit
be changed by authority decisions
Felt to be
more important than other values such as self-interest
with emotions such as guilt, shame and remorse
Models of Ethical Decision Making
- Utilitarianism – Also known as “Consequentialism,” decisions are
justified if the outcomes produced are for the “greater good.” The ethical nature of the decision is made on the
consequences of that decision. Some (bad) examples are slavery and wars.
- Non-Consequentialism – There are no other choices but to follow that decision
because it is an “obligation” or “duty.” These rules must be obeyed regardless of what may result.
These are often derived from legal authority and rights, religious authority and human reason. Eg. Samurais, military institutions
- Justice and Fairness – The model was developed by John Rawls and is based on
two principles. Firstly, each person has to right to basic liberties and secondly, inequalities of wealth can only be justified
if they are the greatest benefit of the least advantaged and they go with positions or appointments that are open to all in
conditions of fair equality of opportunity.
- Ethic of Care – This models helps us to justify our decisions on the basis that
we have extra obligations to those we love and care about and we should nurture our relationships. The downfall of this model
is bias and favouritism. In a business context, this means owing a duty or care to our employees.
- Virtue Ethics – This model of decision making forces us to ask ourselves, “what
are the traits of a morally good human being?” Our choices are a reflection of our character and integrity. These values
will differ from one culture to another.
(Week 3 Lecture Slides - Ethical Leadership, 2007)