Many professions in various positions of administration are sometimes compounded with ethical dilemmas which in turn force the individuals to engage in ethical reasoning. Ethical reasoning is “the process of reasoning in which an individual examines the situation at hand in relation to his or her moral convictions or ethical standards” (Cross and Miller, 2008, p.88). Basically, ethical reasoning by professionals in many agencies can be characterized by two basic approaches: 1) defines ethical behavior in terms of duty that also implies certain rights; 2) determines what is ethical in terms of the perceived consequences or the outcome of a given action (Cross and Miller, 2008, p.88).
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Writing on the ethics of duty, Kant, who was a philosopher noted that individuals have the capacity to weigh their actions in relation to the consequences that would result from such actions if everyone in society acted in the same way. And adhering to the principle of rights, professions have an ethical duty to evaluate the consequences of a particular decision they make in relation to the rights of other people. At the same time, the utilitarian model of ethics postulates that a particular action can only be regarded to be correct if it results into the greatest amount of good among the people it affects, and if the effects are deemed to be adverse, then the action(s) can be regarded to be wrong (Cross and Miller, 2008, p.89). Therefore, as a professional, making decisions pertaining to particular issues requires: 1) determination of which individuals will be affected by the action in question; 2) carrying out cost-benefit analysis which involves the assessment of the negative and positive effects of alternative actions on these individuals; and 3) making a choice among the available alternative actions that will produce maximum societal positive net benefits (Cross and Miller, 2008, p.89). More importantly, the professional needs to know that compliance with law is necessary in appropriating the specific actions for the abrogated responsibilities (Meiners, Ringleb and Edwards, 2006).
Ethics and honest reporting
Today, many agencies and corporations are working in environments that are full of competition pressures and their main focus has turned to focus on economic goals of making profit (Fernando, 2009, p.58). Such situations are resulting into realization of conflict between personal values of the employees and organizational goals. The end product experienced is the growing ethical dilemmas in the places of work. However, the corporations have responsibilities of acting ethically in order to: prevent harm to the general public (Meiners, Ringleb and Edwards, 2006), build trust with key stakeholder groups, to meet stakeholder expectations, to protect the employees (Meiners, Ringleb and Edwards, 2006) and lastly, to create conducive environment in which employees are able to act in ways consistent with their values (Fernando, 2009, p.60). Many employees in an organization therefore are presented with hard situations of making decisions in organizational environments that have different value systems, moral philosophies, competitive pressure and political ideologies, which provide opportunities for misconduct. Moreover, when there are numerous opportunities for unethical behavior, “companies are vulnerable to both ethical and legal violations if their employees do not know how to make the right decisions” (Fernando, 2009, p.62; Meiners, Ringleb and Edwards, 2006).
The main approach proposed, which can be utilized in resolving ethical dilemmas is the deontological (Fernando, 2009, p.62). Deontological (action-oriented) approach postulates that an ethical standard has to be made by a free and rational person. In that case, the person is entitled to his or her fundamental moral rights which are universal. Individuals have rights to fairness, equality, honesty, integrity, justice and respect; therefore, in acting, the profession asks questions like, which actions are inherently good? Does it respect the basic rights of everyone involved? Does it avoid deception, coercion and manipulation? And does it treat people equitably? (Fernando, 2009, p.63). From this, a method of resolving the ethical dilemma can be drawn, that should focus on the practical consequences of what can be done by identifying the best mix of benefits or threats.
Cross, F. B. and Miller, R. L. (2008). The Legal Environment of Business: Text and Cases-Ethical, Regulatory, Global and E-Commerce. OH, Cengage Learning. Web.
Fernando, A. C. (2009). Business Ethics: An Indian Perspective. New Delhi, Pearson Education India. Web.
Meiners, R. E., Ringleb, A. H. and Edwards, F. L. (2006). The legal environment of business. OH, Cengage Learning.