The five step model of making difficult ethical decisions
Making difficult ethical decisions requires a process where the problem is addressed in stages and intellectually choosing the best option. Ethical decisions require application of the prima facie duties which act as guide lines or the frame for the process. In this discussion we are going to look at the five step models with inclusion of the prima facie duties in ethical decision making.
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Depending on the kind of the problem being experienced the decision maker is obliged to make the right classification so as to get a solution. Classification may include the statement of a problem. In this case we are to consider a situation where an accident has happened and one person, Douglas on the neighborhood has eye witnessed it. Douglas works with Red Cross organizations and feels obligated to assist the victims as a part of his moral duties. According to the Prima Facie duties postulated by W.D. Ross, Douglas has a duty of fidelity to keep the promise which he gave as a Red Cross worker which compels him to take quick measures to save the lives of the victims.
Identification of conflicts of obligations
Douglas is faced by conflicting obligations and a situation of dilemma. There is a vehicle of his neighbor which he is contemplating using to ferry the victims to the hospital but the neighbor is not there to give him permission. He also feels that failing to take the victims to hospital will be against his morals and more so against the duty of harm protection in the prima facie duties. He is now torn between the two obligations so and he is weighing them so as to arrive at the moral ethical decision.
Ethical assessment of the obligation
Douglas is assessing the two obligations to establish what action is the best to take. When he weighs the option of taking the victims to the hospital using the neighbor’s vehicle he feels that it is morally wrong because of lack of the owner’s consent. The justification is based on the duty of the justice and non-injury to the neighbor. The duty of justice requires that Douglas should exercise justice to all parties and not to take any action which one party will consider unfair to them. The duty of non-injury requires that Douglas should not take any action that will harm any party mentally or physically including the owner of the vehicle. Taking the vehicle without owner’s consent will injure him (owner) mentally.
Selection of the ethically viable option
In the application of the prima facie duties the rule is that priorities of the principles should be observed. There are some duties that are taken override others so as to allow making of ethical decisions. In our case the principle of harm protection should be taken to override the principle of justice and non-injury. The duty of harm protection requires Douglas to prevent any more harm either from him or others to the accident victims. Consequently the prima facie duty of beneficence which requires one to do good to others to enhance their happiness, security, wisdom and health should be given precedence.
Decision on a course of action
Having considered all he prima-facie duties and the precedence over their application, Douglas should show moral decision making by taking the neighbor’s vehicle though without consent and take the victims to the hospital. This will be termed as the actual duty for Douglas. If some conflicts occurs later to the owner of the vehicle they can be solved on the bases of the duty of reparation and gratitude.
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