Are you an ethical person? Or, do you use a great ethical framework?



I will admit that I have never done well in any “ethics” course I have taken. This does not mean that I am an unethical person. However, I still believe that ” Napster ” was ethical as it was “good for all”.

As you can imagine in healthcare we make ethical decisions everyday from “right to life” to the most recent and very emotionally charged subject,  ‘medically assistance in dying”. Our college provides very clear directions for us. I am fortunate to work in healthcare as when an ethical decision surfaces we have an actual ethics department to contact. I have been involved with many ethical decisions and they are very emotionally charged times. Key is engagement of both parties so that all feel that they have a part in the making of the decision. It is a fascinating process to participate in as they walk the “parties” through the ethical decision making process or framework as it is referred to here.

Recognize an Ethical Issue

  1. Could this decision or situation be damaging to someone or to some group? Does this decision involve a choice between a good and bad alternative, or perhaps between two “goods” or between two “bads”?
  2. Is this issue about more than what is legal or what is most efficient? If so, how? Get the Facts
  3. What are the relevant facts of the case? What facts are not known? Can I learn more about the situation? Do I know enough to make a decision?
  4. What individuals and groups have an important stake in the outcome? Are some concerns more important? Why?
  5. What are the options for acting? Have all the relevant persons and groups been consulted? Have I identified creative options?

Evaluate Alternative Actions

  1. Evaluate the options by asking the following questions:
  • Which option will produce the most good and do the least harm? (The Utilitarian Approach)
  • Which option best respects the rights of all who have a stake? (The Rights Approach)
  • Which option treats people equally or proportionately? (The Justice Approach)
  • Which option best serves the community
    as a whole, not just some members?
    (The Common Good Approach)
  • Which option leads me to act as the sort of person I want to be? (The Virtue Approach)

Make a Decision and Test It

  1. Considering all these approaches, which option best addresses the situation?
  2. If I told someone I respect-or told a television audience-which option I have chosen, what would they say?

Act and Reflect on the Outcome

  1. How can my decision be implemented with the greatest care and attention to the concerns of all stakeholders?
  2. How did my decision turn out and what have I learned from this specific situation?



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