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Ethical Awareness Paper

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Autor:  anton  21 July 2011
Tags:  Ethical,  Awareness
Words: 978   |   Pages: 4
Views: 507

The American Heritage Dictionary (2000) defined ethics as a set of principles of right conducts; a theory or a system of moral values; the study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person, moral philosophy. In one moment in life all humankind are exposed to an ethical decision. For such reason, having the ability to make good ethical decisions would enable the person to express the basis of his or her decision and to justify the decision-making process he or she uses to reach the position is critical to have an effective communication. One way to help in making good ethical decisions is by understanding our own ethical perspectives. In this paper I will describe my own personal ethical perspective as described by the University of Phoenix Ethical Awareness Inventory. Furthermore, I will explain each of the four ethical perspectives: Character/virtue, Obligation/deontology, Results/utilitarianism, Equity/relativism.

My Ethical Perspective

By performing the awareness inventory, the outcome was that I am obligation/deontology based. According to the inventory, I tend to base my ethical perspective on an individuals duty or obligations to do what is morally right – principles that represent what a rational persons ought morally to do. I believe that ethical conduct appeals to “conscience.” The assessment revealed that I intent to look to peoples actions rather than focusing on results. I believed that all individuals should have the right to make his or her own ethical choices. Finally the assessment revealed that I’m guided by desire to be in accord with established standards of right and wrong.

I tend to agree with the assessment because when I make a decision, the decision is based on my bible principles. If I’m not mistaken they are the highest moral standards. As I was growing up, these principals were bestowed upon me by my mother. I am grateful to her because these principles have been helpful in my past, present, and they will be in my future. These principles have helped me in the past to base my decision making when it comes to the job that I have chosen, the daily decision that I make in life and they are present now since I am mother of two. So my children will inherit the same bible principles that were present in my childhood.


Virtue ethics focuses on the type of person we ought to be, not on specific actions that should be taken. Virtue is grounded in good character, motives, and core values (p. 131). Virtue ethics argue that the possessor of good character is and acts moral, feel good, is happy, and flourishes. Practical wisdom, however, is often required to be virtuous (p. 131). For example, medical doctors should include the cultivation of virtues such as compassion, discernment, trustworthiness, integrity, conscientiousness as well as benevolence (desire to help) and non-malevolence (desire to avoid harm) (p. 131).


Deontology is also known as universalism. Universalism holds that the ends do not justify the means of actions- the right thing must always be done, even if doing the wrong thing would do the most good for the most people (Weiss, 2001, p. 124). Regardless of consequences, this approach is based on universal principles, such as justice, rights, fairness, honesty, and respect (p. 124). For examples in an organization stakeholder will take in consideration employees when making and changing policies and decisions.


The founders of the concept of utilitarianism are Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. According Weiss (2006), the definition of utilitarianism is that utilitarian view holds that an action is judged as right or good on the basis of its consequences. The ends of an action justify the means taken to reach those ends (pg. 120). Weiss (2005) included the following tenets for utilitarianism:

• An action is morally right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

• An action is morally right if the net benefits over cost are greatest for all affected compared with the net benefit of all other possible choices.

• An action is morally right if its benefits are greatest for each individual and if these benefits outweigh the costs and benefits of the alternatives (p. 122).

Utilitarian concepts are widely practiced by governments policy makers, economist, and

business professionals (Weiss, 2006). According to Weiss (2006), utilitarianism is a useful principle for conducting a stakeholder analysis, because it forces decision makers to (1) consider collective as well as particular interests, (2) formulate alternatives based on the greatest good for all parties involved in a decision, and (3) estimate the costs and benefits of alternatives for the affected groups (p. 122).


The last ethical perspective is the equity-relativism based. Weiss (2006) stated: “ethical relativism holds that no universal standards or rules can be used to guide or evaluate the morality of an act. This view argues that people set their own moral standards for judging their actions. Only the individual’s self- interest and values are relevant for judging his or her behavior. This form is also referred to as naïve relativism (p. 132).” Ethical relativism does not effectively or efficiently solve complicated conflicts that involve many parties because these situations require tolerating doubts and permitting our observations and beliefs to be informed (p. 133).


Understanding the four ethical perspectives will help gain a clear vision on how individuals actions can be distinguish from those of others. Furthermore, these perspectives can be useful for guiding our own decision-making process. Understanding the criteria which were described in this paper, will enable the person to reason more critically when examining others ethical reasoning.


Heritage Dictionary (2000) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed) . Houghton Miffin Company.

Weiss, J. (2006). Business Ethics,chapter 1: A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach ( 4th ed.). Mason, OH. Thompson South-Western.

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