7-Step Ethical Decision-making Process (Davis)
Jaap de Jonge (Editor), Editor, Netherlands
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1. State problem
. For example, "there's something about this decision that makes me uncomfortable" or "do I have a conflict of interest?".
2. Check facts
. Many problems disappear upon closer examination of situation, while others change radically.
3. Identify relevant factors
. For example, persons involved, laws, professional code, other practical constraints ( e.g. under $200).
4. Develop list of options
. Be imaginative, try to avoid "dilemma"; not "yes" or" no" but whom to go to, what to say.
5. Test options
. Use such tests as the following:
- Harm test: Does this option do less harm than alternatives?
- Publicity test: Would I want my choice of this option published in the newspaper?
- Defensibility test: Could I defend choice of option before congressional committee or committee of peers?
- Reversibility test: Would I still think choice of this option good if I were adversely affected by it?
- Colleague test: What do my colleagues say when I describe my problem and suggest this option is my solution?
- Professional test: What might my profession's governing body for ethics committee say about this option?
- Organization test: What does the company's ethics officer or legal counsel say about this?
6. Make a choice based on steps 1-5
7. Review steps 1-6
. What could you do to make it less likely that you would have to make such a decision again?
- Are there any cautions you can take as an individual ( and announce your policy on question, job change, etc.)?
- Is there any way to have more support next time?
- Is there any way to change the organization ( for example, suggest policy change at next departmental meeting)?
Source: Davis, Michael: Ethics and the University, 1999, New York: Routledge, p. 166-167