Ethical Decision Making
Ethical decision making refers to the choices that one makes when faced with standards of behavior that tell an individual how to act in a given situation. The first step in ethical decision making, then, is identifying the choice that one needs to make as an ethical issue, or an issue that can cause harm to another person or a group. Then, one needs to gain a full understanding of the issue at hand, the precipitating factors, and the various results that can arise. One should identify possible sources of more information, in case one needs more guidance during the decision-making process. Understanding who would be affected by the decision and what options are available is also essential to making a decision ethically.
One can then utilize an ethical approach to weight the possible outcomes. The utilitarian approach asks which option will do the least harm while producing the most good. The rights approach asks which option will ensure all those who have a stake in the outcome have their rights respected. The justice approach asks which option is most likely to treat people equally and fairly. The common good approach asks which of the options available best serves the community and not just a small subset of individuals. Finally, the virtue approach asks which choice allows the decision maker to act in the way they personally see as best.
Once a choice has been made, the decision should be tested and reflected upon. Feedback from those involved can be gathered, and analysis of the results should be considered. Above all, one should be able to learn from the decision-making process, enabling one to better address a similar problem should it arise in the future.