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Gossip is unethical behavior based on the various approaches in evaluating what is ethical and what is not ethical. According to the rights approach in evaluating ethical cases, ethical actions should respect and protect moral rights of other people. This view stresses that people have dignity based on their nature or their ability to decide freely what they do with themselves and their lives.
The moral right to make one’s own choices and decisions about a lifestyle, truth, harm, some privacy are essential elements of ethics that persons have rights to possess and know. This is a case of individual respecting others rights and choices. Paige should respect choices Cheyenne makes as a person who has rights to her life. The gossips spreading through facebook comments are nasty, causing harm, and further invading privacy of Cheyenne.
Utilitarian approach to ethics posits that ethical actions should produce greatest good and least harm to the party concerned i.e. produces greatest right over harm. Paige reacts to Cheyenne behavior not knowing of consequences her friends will post on facebook.
Such comments increased the injuries caused to Cheyenne’s character and personality. Gossip serves to increase the amount of harm caused. For the common benefit of everyone, the University should act as an arbitrator in settling the emerging problems in its community (Velasquez and Moberg, 2010).
Ethical model or decision-making approach
The framework for ethical decision-making requires that we recognize an ethical issue as the initial step. The issue under focus is Facebook gossip or cyber-bullying, which is damaging the character of Cheyenne, which to some extent can result into a legal case. Laying down facts is the second element of ethical decision-making approach.
Cheyenne is a party girl and likes to sleep. Paige posts what she has observed on her facebook. Ivy reacts to the facebook post in her own view by posting her radical comments. Tara confronts Paige about cyber-bullying Cheyenne. However, Tara has not consulted all the relevant groups. She has chosen the creative approach of talking about the issue with Paige.
Another significant element is to evaluate the alternative actions. We shall base the alternative options on the utilitarian approach, which aims to give the greatest good and eliminate harm. Facebook gossip is harming the reputation of Cheyenne. The best option to Paige is to apologize publicly and withdraw her comments. At the same time, Cheyenne should get advice about partying and its consequence. The rights approach requires Paige to leave Cheyenne live her life as she chooses.
In consideration of all the approaches, the utilitarian approach is the best solution since it will produce common good to all parties. Paige will know the dangers of gossiping and Cheyenne will learn to take her studies seriously and desist from partying.
The final stage is to act and reflect the outcome of the choice made. The arbitrator (Tara) must reflect how her approach to talk about the issue with Paige will affect her and Ivy. Tara must evaluate all the outcomes and learning points of her action to confront Paige.
This model is analytical and hierarchical system, which provides an effective way to deal with the ethical decision-making issues. It prevents drastic decision-making approaches. The first step is to arrange the problem into manageable pieces from general to specific approach. The general problem is that Paige gossiped about Cheyenne, and the distinctive problem arising is Facebook gossip and cyber-bullying. This will give us the objectives, criteria of evaluation and alternative adequacy of solutions (Perry, 2011).
We assign weight to each branch of the problem. Paige might feel that her facebook comment was in a light touch. However, Ivy comments cannot be taken lightly. This creates a wide issue of cyber-bullying. We generate alternatives and evaluate them. Evaluation of alternatives involves weighing all the branches of the problem and giving them the alternative responses and actions. We based the approaches on utilitarian and rights approach.
The final step involves section of the best approach to the issue. This model requires that we face the problem and give the best solution for all parties. In this regard, utilitarian approach fits the case.
A primary research conducted among fellow students indicates that cyber-bullying is wrong and unethical. Jane says that “I feel cyberbullying is getting worse among college students, and we should address it to promote harmony among students.” Paul sees cyberbullying as a modern form of bullying emerging to replace the traditional forms.
He blames technology for it by saying, “We recognize the value of social media in life. However, we should only use it to address vital issues concerning us”. Shan believes that “people cannot avoid gossiping and bullying. However, they should beware of the damage caused to the other parties”.
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Patchin and Hinduja show that cyberbullying is a serious problem among the youths with serious repercussions on their social lives. Robinson Kowalski notes that cyberbullying is rare in some places. However, when cyberbullying happens it can lead to serious depression, isolation and withdrawals in peers. Susan Limber observes that other forms of cyberbullying include harassment, denigration, trickery, ostracism, and cyber stalking (Patchin and Hinduja, 2011).
Patchin, J. and Hinduja, S. (2011). Cyberbullying prevention and response: Expert Perspectives. New York: Routledge.
Perry, P. (2011). Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). Québec: RFP Evaluation Centers.
Velasquez, M. and Moberg, D. (2010, March 5). Ethics Home. Retrieved from Markkula Center of Applied Ethics: https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/a-framework-for-ethical-decision-making/