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Academic Career Experience & Service Learning

SEVEN STEP GUIDE TO ETHICAL DECISION MAKING

State Problem:

"There is something about this decision that makes me uncomfortable." Or "Do I have a conflict of interest?"

Check Facts:

Many problems disappear upon closer examination of situation, while others change radically.

Identify Relevant Factors:

Persons involved, laws, professional codes, other practical constraints (costs).

Develop list of options:

Be imaginative, try to avoid dilemma, not yes or no, but who to go to, what to say?

Test Options:

  • Harm Test: Does this option do less harm than the alternative?
  • Publicity Test: Would I want my choice of this option to be published in the newspaper?
  • Defensibility Test: Could I defend choice of this option before a congressional committee or committee of peers?
  • Reversibility Test: Would I still think 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 as my solution?
  • Professional Test: What might my profession's governing body or ethics committee say about this option?
  • Organization Test: What does the company's ethics officer or legal counsel say about this?

Make a Choice:

Based on Steps 1 through 5.

Review Steps 1-6: 

What could you do to make it less likely that you would have to make such a decision again? Any precautions that you can take as an individual? Any way to have more support next time? Any way to change the organization policy, or the decision making process?


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