Ethical Reasoning

WEEK THREE READINGS REVIEW: TOOLS OF TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR LEARNING CRITICAL THINKER Fair-mindedness is the human tendency to reason in a self-serving or self-deluded manner. UNDERSTANDING ETHICAL REASONING: Ethical principles are not a matter of subjective preference. All reasonable people are obligated to respect clear-cut ethical concepts and principles. To reason well through ethical issues, we must know how to apply ethical concepts and principles reasonably to those issues. Ethical concepts and principles should be distinguished from the norms and taboos of society and peer group, religious teachings, political ideologies, and the law.

The most significant barriers to sound ethical reasoning are the egocentrism and sociocentrism of human beings. Following that discussion, we emphasize three essential components in sound ethical reasoning: (1) the principles upon which ethics is grounded, (2) the counterfeits to avoid, and (3) the pathology of the human mind. We must learn to check our thinking for egocentrism, sociocentrism, and self-deception. This, in turn, requires development of the intellectual dispositions described earlier in the book, including intellectual humility, intellectual integrity, and fair-mindedness.

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What these same people fear most is someone else’s ethical perspective taught as the truth: conservatives afraid of liberals being in charge, liberals fearful of conservatives, theists of nontheists, nontheists of theists, and so on. These are the kinds of challenging ethical issues often ignored by the naive and the good-hearted on the one hand, and the self-deceived and cynical on the other. Because ethical reasoning is often complex, we must learn strategies to deal with these complexities.

The three intellectual tasks we believe to be the most important to ethical reasoning are: Mastering the most basic ethical concepts and the principles inherent in ethical issues. Learning to distinguish between ethics and other domains of thinking with which ethics is commonly confused. Learning to identify when native human egocentrism and sociocentrism are impeding one’s ethical judgments (probably the most challenging task of the three). If any of these three foundations is missing in a person’s ethical reasoning, that reasoning will likely be flawed.

Let’s consider these abilities in turn. To be skilled at ethical reasoning means to develop a conscience that is not subservient to unethical laws, or to fluctuating social conventions, or to controversial, theological systems of belief. But consistently sound ethical reasoning, like consistently sound complex reasoning of every type, presupposes practice in thinking-through ethical issues. As you face ethical problems in your life, the challenge will be in applying appropriate ethical principles to those problems. The more often you do so, the better you will become at ethical reasoning.

At the root of every unethical act lies some form and degree of self-delusion. And at the root of every self-delusion lies some flaw in thinking. To become skilled at ethical reasoning, we must understand that ethical reasoning means doing what is right even in the face of powerful selfish desires. To live an ethical life is to develop command over our native egocentric tendencies. It is not enough to espouse the importance of living an ethical life. It is not enough to be able to do the right thing when we ourselves have nothing to lose.

We must be willing to fulfill our ethical obligations at the expense of our selfish desires. Thus, having insight into our irrational drives is essential to living an ethical life. This means learning to identify and express ethical concepts and principles accurately. It means learning how to apply these principles to relevant ethical situations and learning to differentiate ethics from other modes of thinking that are traditionally confused with ethics. Finally, it means taking command, with intellectual humility, of one’s native egocentrism.

Without such an organized, well-integrated, critically based approach to ethics, some counterfeit of ethics, but not ethics itself, is the likely result. To date, all across the world, ethics has routinely been confused with other domains of thinking. The use of ethics and its misuse have been nearly one and the same. DECISION MAKING PROCESS: CHAPTER 1 1. Preparing to decide, Defining the purpose Decisions start from a simple statement of purpose. Get this wrong and the whole process gets off on the wrong foot Involving others Most decisions impact on other people, involve them early.

Use stakeholder analysis to discover your fors and againsts Taking a preliminary look at the financial case As part of the preparation take a first pass at the financial implications of the decision 2. Creating options, Creating a number of options Never assume that there is only one possible way of solving a problem. You will consider continuing with the way you did things before, but also think about change 3. Evaluating the options, Evaluating the options Create the criteria the solution needs to meet and compare the options against them.

This also forms a major weapon in the battle to convert the hearts and minds of stakeholders. 4. Checking the financial case Use good financial techniques to compare options. Think about this even if there is no financial barrier at the moment. Deciding by cashflow A projected profit and loss account must lead to its cash implications. Get familiar with the way accountants look at decisions. 5. Analysing the risk Work out if the chances of success support the decision you are about to make. Find out what you can do to pre-empt a significant risk occurring. 6.

Making and implementing the decision Deciding and creating the action plan A decision is not complete until you have taken action. If you don’t follow up your decision who can you expect to? Recording the decision The habit of recording how a decision was reached is a potentially valuable source of knowledge and experience Re-evaluating the decision Review the decision and check that the benefits are coming through 7. Setting the scene Putting decision-making into context No decision can stand on its own, we have to build the right environment if our decision-making is to be at its most effective

STAKEHOLDERS IN THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS: It is helping the people involved understand the benefits of the change that the decision involves to their company, their customers and themselves. DEFINE WORDS IN READING: Inadvertently- UNINTENTIONALLY DECISIN MAKIG STYLES: Democratic decision making is when the leader gives up ownership and control of a decision and allows the group to vote. Majority vote will decide the action. Advantages include a fairly fast decision, and a certain amount of group participation.

The disadvantage of this style includes no responsibility. An individual is not responsible for the outcome. In fact, even the group feels no real responsibility because some members will say, “I didn’t vote for that. “. Lack of group and personal responsibility seems to disqualify this style of decision making; however, the democratic style does have its place in business. Autocratic decision making is when the leader maintains total control and ownership of the decision. The leader is also completely responsible for the good or bad outcome as a result of the decision.

The leader does not ask for any suggestions or ideas from outside sources and decides from his or her own ,internal information and perception of the situation. Advantages include a very fast decision, and personal responsibility by the leader, for the outcome. If an emergency situation exists, the autocratic style is usually the best choice. The disadvantages are varied and sometimes include less than desired effort from the people that must carry out the decision. If the employee is personally affected by the decision but not included when the decision is made, morale and effort may or may not suffer. It is not always predictable.

If the outcome for the decision is not positive, members of the organization begin to feel they could have done a better job themselves and the leader may lose credibility. Collective – Participative decision making is when the leader involves the members of the organization. Other perspectives of the situation are discovered because the leader deliberately asks and encourages others to participate by giving their ideas, perceptions, knowledge, and information concerning the decision. The leader maintains total control of the decision because, although outside information is considered, the leader alone decides.

The leader is also completely responsible for the good or bad outcome as a result of the decision. The advantages include some group participation and involvement. This is especially valuable when a person is affected negatively by the decision. In most cases, the individual is informed before the decision is implemented (no surprises) and usually feels n good about personal involvement. If the leader is a good communicator, and listens carefully to the information collected, he or she will usually have a more accurate understanding of the situation and make a better decision.

The disadvantages of this style include a fairly slow, time consuming decision; less security, because so many people are involved in the decision. Consensus decision making is when the leader gives up total control of the decision. The complete group is totally involved in the decision. The leader is not individually responsible for the outcome. The complete organization or group is now responsible for the outcome. This is not a democratic style because everyone must agree and “buy in” on the decision. If total commitment and agreement by everyone is not obtained the decision becomes democratic.

The advantages include group commitment and responsibility for the outcome. Teamwork and good security is also created because everyone has a stake in the success of the decision. A more accurate decision is usually made, with a higher probability of success, because ss many ideas, perspectives, skills and “brains” were involved in the creation. The disadvantages include a very slow and extremely time consuming decision. It is also a lot of work getting everyone in the organization involved. It takes skill and practice for a group to learn how to work together.


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