Parameters of Ethical Decision Making
Ethical decision making is an essential aspect in understanding and demonstrating the values of an organization. The intense pressures of business may not always allow time for reflection, and the high stakes may tempt us to compromise our ideals. Many of us already have well-developed ethical outlooks but by considering various approaches to ethical decision making, we are better equipped to make the right choices when the need arises. Joseph Weiss (2009) identifies fundamental ethical principles that guide decision making: utilitarianism, universalism, rights, justice, and ethical virtue. John Rawls contributes his Theory of Justice as Fairness as another approach for consideration in resolving ethical dilemmas.
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Rights, justice, and virtue complement one another; rights are that which is due to people by ruling authorities, giving choice in actions and beliefs that are typically grounded by justice. The principle of justice requires that all relevantly similar people are treated alike. Virtues are the external evidence of positive ethical traits that are demonstrated through word and deed. Virtues correspond to duties like gratitude, confidentiality, and justice (lasalle.edu, n. d.). The theory of justice as fairness ties in with the principle of justice; people commit to the standards of social and political justice. This theory also assures individuals their rights to pursue their desires, like the principle of rights holds.
Ethical Dilemma There is some ethical debate surrounding the use of extremely low-wage, foreign workers in some organizations. Under the utilitarian approach, a business would try to determine whether using low-wage foreign workers would result in the greatest good.
Using such workers in response to price competition might allow for retained market share, helping to avoid laying off US employees. Refusing to use low-wage foreign workers regardless of the competition could mean that the business may be unable to compete. This could result in layoffs of US workers and even foreign workers, for whom the relatively low wages may be essential income.