Ethical Decision Making Process Model

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Gabriel Du Toit, South Africa

Ethical Decision Making Process Model

I'm looking for guidelines/models for an ethical decision making process? Preferably in diagram form with the explanation of each step.


Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

7-Step Ethical Decision-making Process (Davis)

Is this the one you are looking for?
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

Gabriel Du Toit, South Africa

Ethical Decision Making Process

@Jaap de Jonge (Editor): Thank you very much. I believe this is already something good to work off.... Sign up

Elgina Ndhlovu
Director, South Africa

Process to Make Ethical Decisions

@Jaap de Jonge: Good day, thank you so much for the tip it will definitely assist me in my organizat... Sign up


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