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Some ethical axes

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This slide set identifies some of the crucial intersections of ethical tensions. It was designed to help generate discussions related to essential ethical questions.

This slide set identifies some of the crucial intersections of ethical tensions. It was designed to help generate discussions related to essential ethical questions.

Published in: Business, Technology

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  • 1. SOME ETHICAL AXES Raising Difficult Questions for Workplace Ethics
  • 2. Some Initial Ideas • Ultimately ethical action reflects the ANSWERS we rely on in making ethical CHOICES. • These answers are generated in response to the QUESTIONS we raise when confronted by a situation that requires a choice to act. • The more questions we raise the stronger can be our eventual insight and, therefore, our answers, our choices and our actions.
  • 3. Each axis will raise different ethical questions 1. Principle focused vs Pragmatic focused 2. Inner-directed vs Outer-directed 3. Individualism vs Communitarianism 4. Seeking Justice vs Seeking Mercy 5. Universalism vs Particularism 6. Individual Fairness vs Group Equity 7. Judgment vs Intuition 8. Discovering ethics vs Developing Ethics 9. Rights/Responsibilities vs Relationships/Responsiveness 10. Quantitative vs Qualitative 11. Truth as Fixed vs Truth as Variable
  • 4. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Principle focused vs Pragmatic focused – Is it more important to stand for a principle, or more important to achieve what is practical? – Is it more critical to combat for principle (at whatever the cost) or to compromise to achieve some of what we want (at whatever the cost)? – How do we discover our principles and how do we discover what is pragmatic? – What do we do when there are multiple principles involved and multiple perspectives on what is pragmatic? Should we seek to embrace a principle? Should we seek to embrace what is practical?
  • 5. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Inner-directed vs Outer-directed – Can I trust my inner-self to correctly inform my ethical choices or do I need to find a source outside of myself to correctly inform my ethical choices? – What happens if MY inner “voice” informs my ethical choices in a way that conflicts with the inner voices of others? – If the locus of my ethical insights is inside of me, do I listen to the voice of my experience, my feelings, my passions, or my reasoning? – How confident am I that my inner voice has a good track record of being right a high percentage of the time? Is the locus of what is ethical found outside of me? Is the locus of what is ethical found in me?
  • 6. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Individualism vs Communitarianism – Is it more important do depend on MY judgment about what is ethical, or to rely on the community (group) perspective or position? – Is it more important to serve the needs of the “one” or the “many?” – Is individual conscience more reliable as an ethical director than community consensus? – Is it more important for the individual to “use” the community to serve his/her purposes, or for the community to “use” the individual for its purposes? Should I focus my ethical choices on the community? Should I focus my ethical choices on the individual?
  • 7. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Seeking Justice vs Seeking Mercy – What course of action is most likely to bring restoration to the one offended – punishment or forgiveness? – What course of action is most likely to bring restoration to the offender – punishment or forgiveness? – Must forgiveness always mean pardon from all consequences of wrong doing? – By what criteria should justice determine punishment consistent with the wrong suffered? Is it most critical to offer forgiveness of wrong doing? Is it most critical to punish wrong doing?
  • 8. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Universalism vs Particularism – What should weigh more in our ethical decisions – principles and perspectives that apply to a broad range of ethical choices, or responding to the unique and particular elements of a situation? – What does it mean to be fair – treating everyone the same, or treating each person different? – Which is more important in ethical decision making – consistent application of principles, or creative response to the situation? – How do we avoid two extremes – allowing universalism to lead us to blind us to the situation, or allowing particularism to blind us to standards? Should we focus on identifying and responding to what is unique in a situation? Should we focus on identifying and applying universal truths to a situation?
  • 9. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Individual Fairness vs Group Equity – How might we resolve the tension when meeting the need for individual fairness conflict with meeting the need for group equity – that is, when the ethical response for the individual and the ethical response for the group (community) are not mutually compatible? – Because groups are often diverse, how do we determine what is equitable for all group members and interests? Should we focus on serving the individual’s ethical interests? Should we focus serving the group’s ethical interests?
  • 10. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Judgment vs Intuition – Is rational analysis ALWAYS a better guide to ethical decision making than experienced intuition – is the head always a better guide to achieving ethical outcomes than the heart or soul? – Are there ethical issues that we can sense better than we can analyze – for instance, motivation and character? – When they clash, which should trump the other – what we think, or what we feel? Should we rely primarily on experienced intuition to lead us to make ethical choices? Should we rely primarily on rational thinking to lead us to make ethical choices?
  • 11. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Discovering ethics vs Developing Ethics – Are there ethical “truths” that operate in every situation that require us to carefully and systematically uncover and apply those truths? – Is each situation ethically unique requiring is to fabricate an ethical response? – Is it more important to discover the “ideal” response, or the develop the response that seems to work best in the particular situation? Is every ethical situation unique, demanding a creative response that shapes what is ethical? Are there inherent and enduring ethical rights and wrongs that we need to search for and identify in every ethical situation?
  • 12. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Rights/Responsibilities vs Relationships/Responsiveness – Should we emphasize duty and responsibility in making ethical decisions, or loving and responding to the relational dynamics? – Is it more important to determine what we OWE to each other, or how we could CARE for each other? – Is an ethical community enhanced by serving justice, or offering mercy? Are ethical choices best made with attention to preserving the relationships and being responsive to those involved? Are ethical choices best made with attention to the rights and responsibilities of those involved?
  • 13. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Quantitative vs Qualitative – In understanding an ethical situation, should we weigh facts more than feelings – what can be known objectively more than what can be sensed subjectively? – Should we place greater emphasis on data, or on intuitive insight, when making ethical choices? – Are “facts” always what they seem in ethical situations? – In ethical situations, is the subjective always a less reliable path to justice than the objective – can the heart know things that the head cannot? Are ethical choices best informed by focusing on what can be felt and known subjectively? Are ethical choices best informed by focusing on what can be measured or weighed objectively?
  • 14. Each axis will raise different ethical questions • Truth as Fixed vs Truth as Variable – In ethical situations is truth something we discover, or something we design? – How do we resolve ethical situations when two or more people disagree on what is true? – Is the truth found outside of the situation and the observers, or inside the situation and the observers? – In ethical situations should we weigh more the truths we can see and touch, or the truths we can feel and understand subjectively? In ethical situations is “the truth” something that we create subjectively or experientially? In ethical situations is “the truth” something that exists knowably and objectively?