A Look at Ethical Perspectives While it would be nice to think that it is easy to make decisions and all come to the same conclusion, this is not always the case. Unfortunately, even regarding ethical decisions where you may think a right and wrong way exist may not be easy to determine. Since everyone has different backgrounds and therefore, different perspectives, we may not agree on what the best course of action is to take in a difficult decision. While I believe that character is the most important, someone else may think that as long as the majority is satisfied that their decision is best.
An exercise created by the Williams Institute for Ethics and Management looks at four different perspectives which are referred to using the acronym CORE (2006). This stands for Character, Obligation, Results, and Equity. While one of these is not necessarily better than another, a person from one perspective may reach a different conclusion than someone else. This paper analyzes my perspective as well as compares it to some of the features of the other perspectives. Additionally I will look at several examples of ethical decisions and the conclusion that I come to in each scenario.
My Perspective – Character During the completion of the questions that were asked to determine my perspective, I attempted to answer my questions based on my belief in God and study of the Bible. Upon receiving the results they are closely matched to my beliefs. I believe that integrity is a very important part in each decision that I make and that even though one decision would be more beneficial to a short term goal, that if it was not true to my character, that in the long term would damage my credibility.
One example of this was given to me by a friend, Matt, who mentioned that his boss would occasionally ask him to tell customers that he was not in the office, when in fact his boss was there (M. A. Friend, personal communication, August 2008). My friend pointed out to his boss that if he was willing to lie to the customers, how would he know if Matt was being honest with him? Ultimately the boss found someone else to lie to the customer, but when he needed to find someone to trust, he would go to Matt.
Not every decision is this easy to make, but through study and close attention to mistakes made by myself and others, I am able to increase the wisdom needed to give a virtuous answer. Obligation The names of the perspectives speak mostly for themselves. Obligation is making sure that the decision that is made is fair to all and that everyone is treated as equals (Weiss, 2006). The thought is that we should have a duty to all humanity. This however, presents a challenge when attempting to make a prompt decision and having to analyze the consequences that it will have on everyone.
When choices are made from this perspective, an individual may not use his or her first thought of what is right or wrong, but instead what they think the majority of people would identify as being right. Generally this would be very similar to the character perspective as considering the effect on society as a whole would be an honest choice; however, this may not always be the case. When I consider integrity, I think of Godly values which are occasionally distorted by society due to man believing that he knows what is best.
Results In most business decisions, organizations have to determine if the ends justify the means. This is the correct method most of the time, but may not be acceptable in all ethical decisions. However, someone who has this perspective will usually see that as long as the results are positive, the choices made during the process must have been correct. This can also be referred to as utilitarianism which can be described as determining if an action is good based on the consequences (Weiss, 2006).
Calculations are made and as long as the greatest profit is achieved from the lowest costs, this perspective will assume that the best decision was made. An example of this could be if a restaurant determined that they were going to serve food that has passed its expiration date. While the food may still be good and not cause any harm to someone, a person who is character driven would see this as immoral because there are laws set to prevent companies from serving expired good. Even though it may seem that no harm was done, does not make it the correct decision.
Equity The final part of CORE is equity which could be described as the most risky of the four perspectives. This presents the idea that each individual sets his or her own standards on determining the correct choice in an ethical situation (Weiss, 2006). Many times this is determined on self-interests and not what is better for others. An employee may determine that they have completed as much work as possible for the day so they can go ahead a leave early even though they will still be paid for extra time that they are not there.
There would be no harm as they would just be standing around for a few minutes and they can leave without their manager finding out. This does not show good character however, and if other employees see this may not think the person can be trusted in other scenarios. Even though no direct harm is caused to anyone, the decision is not justified. Weiss also mentions that this perspective can be extended to cultures and someone may consider that while in another country that it is permissible to follow the customs of that culture even though it may not be in line with their own culture’s values.
Conclusion I can see from this exercise that not everyone will have the same conclusions about an ethical decision and not every choice may be right. It could also be said that some situations do not have a correct answer so the best possible decision must be made. I also realize that whatever perspective each individual has, he or she will always think that theirs is correct. This will present challenges when trying to make choices as a team, so I look forward to watch this closely throughout my career to see if one perspective is more dominant that others.
This may very well not be the case, but instead determined by other behavioral styles of the members of the group. ? References The Williams Institute. (2006). Ethics Awareness Inventory. Retrieved August 30, 2008, from https://mycampus. phoenix. edu/secure/aapd/Vendors/TWI/EAI/ Weiss, J. (2006). Business Ethics (4 ed. ). Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western. Retrieved September 1, 2008, from University of Phoenix rEsource for MGT344.