Essay Sample: Thinking Ethically

7 pages
1727 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Ethical decisions ensure that everyone's best interests are protected. When in doubt, don't. This great statement by Harvey Mackay made me wonder what ethics and ethical decisions truly are. Do we have an ethical dilemma in our society? But, nevertheless, every day we have decision-making problems between two moral obligations i.e. our conscience and moral duty to the society and other people. Let us consider what really helps us to navigate through sometimes confusing and deceiving times.

To begin with, I would like to share the information on the Gregs ethical dilemma from Picking Up the Slack case study by Chloe Wilson (2013) that will be discussed further in the essay. It is narrated about Greg and his friend Natalie with whom he has spent years at the university studying business. All these years they were good acquaintances and always enjoyed each others company. Once, before graduating, Greg and some of his friends invited Natalie to participate in their project. But a short time afterwards Greg had realized that Natalie did not perform her work responsibly and actually did not put any efforts into their common project. Meanwhile, other team members were working hard on it and as a result they gave a good final presentation. As a leader of the project, Greg had to write evaluations on every teammate which was not the hard task to do because every member deserved As and Bs for their dignified participations. The problem appeared when it came to Natalie and here is the dilemma whether he should evaluate her in a way she deserves or give her a good evaluation not making a problem for her before the graduation.

One of the most striking features of this problem is on what Greg should rely making his decision. Other members of the project can be offended by his decision to give her a good evaluation because it is not fair to them and she does not deserve that. It is clear that they worked hard for a good result and, perhaps, sometimes at the expense of some entertainments, healthy sleeping and their own affairs. On the other hand, we can observe a good fellowship to the person and, of course, it is hard for Greg to do harm to Natalie even if she deserves that. From my point of view, if I were Greg, I would act according to the conscience. I truly believe that there can be lots of reasons to perform weak results at work for one or two days but if someone does it permanently, it means he does not care. I would do the right thing and give her a deserved evaluation according to her poor achievements. And, no doubt, Natalie must work on her work ethics and does not take everything for granted.

Now we are about to consider what ethics and ethical standards are. Firstly, it would be useful to determine what ethics is. According to the article A Framework for thinking ethically, ethics is some standards of the behavior that show people how to act in different situations (Velasquez, M. et al., 2009). We deal with such situations every day and some moral issues are perplexing and confusing. How exactly should we manage the situations through the prism of ethics? There are five ethical approaches to values developed by philosophers to deal with moral issues. Let us begin with the utilitarian approach developed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill in the nineteenth century to help legislative authorities with enactment (, 2017). The Utilitarian Approach provides actions that must produce the greatest good and do the least harm for all who are affected. What is more, it tries to maximize the good consequences and to reduce the bad ones. According to this approach Greg, firstly, should identify all actions he can perform. Secondly, he should consider how his action can influence on everyone connected to this situation. And finally, he should choose the action with the greatest advantages and the least harm. He can give Natalie a good evaluation and other teammates will be offended with inequity, or he can act according to her real achievements and Natalie will be in an awful position before her graduation. The right conclusion will be to evaluate her well even though other members dont agree with that because they are all about to graduate and the team received an A, regardless of her poor performance. It should be noted that being offended is not as bad as getting bad grade before graduation. The ethical action, according to this approach, is the one that provides the greatest good and does not do harm.

The second approach is based on the idea of the 18th-century thinker Immanuel Kant and others like him who paid attention on the person's right to choose the best. People are entitled to be free and independent in their choices (, 2017). Ethical action, according to this approach, is that one protects moral rights of everyone who is affected (Velasquez, M. et al., 2009). The first question must be asked is whether the actions respect person's rights or not. In this situation Greg can ask himself how much harm he can do to Natalie giving her a bad evaluation. In the same way he should consider how much the team members' rights will be affected when they know that Natalie can get the same evaluation but for having done almost nothing. He has to realize in which situation the rights will be more violated. According to this approach Greg should prefer the team's rights because his duty as a leader of the project is to respect other's rights and be truthful in his actions.

Here comes the next approach that goes back to Aristotle and other ancient Greek philosophers. The main idea is that all people must be treated equally (Velasquez, M. et al., 2009). Making the decision, the most important question raised is how fair an action is and how equal everyone is treated. According to this approach, favoritism and discrimination must be excluded. Greg should clearly understand that if he evaluates her well, he will give her benefits without proper reasons. While doing so favoritism will be shown and this is definitely wrong by this approach. All things considered, the solution is obvious for Greg in this situation. He should base it on the work quality and not on his personal feelings and preferences.

The next approach is all about the common good and global piece. This ethical approach assumes a society consisted of the individuals whose own good is closely connected to welfare of the community. All members of the community pursue common goals and values. Contemporary ethicist John Rawls provided the definition of the common good as certain general conditions that are equally to everyone's advantage (Lorenzetti, 2010). This approach takes everything seriously what is connected with people' welfare. In light of this, it can be concluded that Greg should weigh the consequences and decide what action brings a common good. If Natalie is evaluated well, it will bring an advantage to her and her future career that is why particularly in this case such action will be a better contribution to the common good. In the opposite situation, team members will be satisfied with valid evaluations and fair treatment but it is difficult to consider satisfied ambitions and egos of the team members as a common good. According to this approach Greg should extend mercy and try to be sympathetic to his friend.

The last but not the least ethical standard is the virtue approach. This approach lays emphasis on the virtues of the person, the best features and qualities that can ever be such as honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence (Lorenzetti, 2010). The virtue approach is not about the way we should act, it is more about what kind of people we should be. Virtues are closely connected with habits and eventually they determine our personality. Dealing with his problem, Greg should ask himself what kind of person he wants to be. If he chooses friendship over fair attitude to his colleagues, leadership and work ethics, he can write a good evaluation and in this case the compassion will be his virtue. The next question is going to be what can develop my character and what is the best for my personality. According to this approach he should be brave, honest and just, and act in the best and fair way to others.

To sum up, knowing all five ethical approaches, I still hold my opinion to act according to the conscience because a decent evaluation of Natalies poor performance will bring less harm to the majority of the group. It will not violate others rights except Natalies ones but, honestly, no one wants to harm her on purpose and it is just a fair evaluation of the achievements. I should also point out the fact that this decision will exclude the favoritism and discrimination what is also valuable and important. To draw the conclusion, IHYPERLINK "" can say that every day we face different situation that are most of the time hard to solve and decide what will be better. Sometimes we failed to do the right decision but, all in all, we all strive to gain some moral values, ethical codes and laws that can guide our choices without any problems. And the only way to achieve that is to do the right things as often as it is possible because every day before going to bed only we are responsible for our actions, prosperity and failures.

References (2017). A Framework for Making Ethical Decisions | Science and Technology Studies. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2017].

Lorenzetti, J. (2010). Ethical Frameworks for Academic Decision-Making - Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. [online] Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2017].

Velasquez, M. et al. (May 2009). A Framework for Thinking Ethically. Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Available at:[Accessed 3 Sep. 2017].

Wilson, C. (March 11, 2013). Picking Up the Slack (Big Q). Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Available at: Picking-Up-the-Slack#sthash.rIt9MhNt.dpuf [Accessed 3 Sep. 2017].

Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: