The point of studying ethics is to improve ethical decision-making. Given every ethical situation, a decision has to happen. Even indecision or inaction are ultimately decisions and actions.
In order to be sure that you are clear on all points, it is good to apply some kind of problem-solving approach when solving ethical dilemmas. There are a few methods to do so, but one widely accepted model is the “Eight Steps to Sound Ethical Decision Making” described in the text. The application of such an approach will make sure that all points and stakeholders are considered so that the best decision can be made.
Let’s assume we find ourselves in the following scenario:
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In your spare time at work, you have developed a new spreadsheet program on your work computer in your office. It is even more powerful, yet easier to use than anything on the market. You share your new program with a friend who encourages you to market it on your own because you could probably make an incredible profit in a very short amount of time. This is a very attractive option, yet you developed it using company equipment and during a time that you were at work. What do you do?
Keep in mind the 8 Steps are:
- Step One; Gather the facts
- Step Two; Define the ethical issues
- Step Three; Identify the affected parties (stakeholders)
- Step Four; Identify the consequences
- Step Five; Identify the obligations
- Step Six; Consider your character and integrity
- Step Seven; Think creatively about potential actions
- Step Eight; Check your gut!
Ok, for the scenario provided above we would begin by gathering the facts. We created something that could be very lucrative but did so during company time with company equipment without permission. The potential ethical issue is that we “stole” time from our employer and used their equipment for our own benefit. The affected parties would be ourselves (we created the program), our company, other companies (as this new software could save time and help increase corporate profitability), and possibly future consumers who would use the software as well. The obligations we have could be to provide for our family with more stability if we can sell the software, an obligation to consumers and other companies that may benefit from using my software, and an obligation to our current employer to use their time wisely and not take advantage of work equipment for our own personal gain. In considering our character and integrity, we would evaluate our morals and what we “feel” is right and wrong. Next, we think about our choices, make a decision and check our gut. Let’s ask again, what would you do?
In a properly IWG formatted essay of 600 words, including two IWG references (one may be your text), you will choose an actual or possible ethical dilemma or situation that is relevant for the chosen career path that you are studying for. You will analyze this possible ethical dilemma with the Eight Steps to Sound Ethical Decision Making, and decide what to do.
Please be sure to complete each of the following steps in your 600-word essay:
1. Describe an ethical situation you or someone in your field of study or career path might face. You may use your own past experience, however, please do not use one shown in our Week 1 discussion videos. Then in a single sentence, state what you think you should do.
2. Next, analyze the situation you have chosen with the Eight Steps.
3. Discuss the course of action or solution that the process of analyzing the situation from the Eight Steps has led you to in this particular situation.
4. Conclude by comparing the outcomes recommended by the Eight Steps with your initial response stated in the first step. How are they similar? How are they different?