Ethical Decision Making: Introduction to Cases and Concepts in Ethics

Ethical Decision Making: Introduction to Cases and Concepts in Ethics

Lisa Newton Shelburne, VT USA

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ISSN 2211-8101 ISSN 2211-811X (electronic) ISBN 978-3-319-00166-1 ISBN 978-3-319-00167-8 (eBook) DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-00167-8 Springer Cham Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London

Library of Congress Control Number: 2013934534

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1 Cases and Decisions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1.1 The Impaired Driver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1.2 Definitions and Distinctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1.3 Definitions of the Terms of Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

1.3.1 ADAPT: An Approach to Moral Decision-Making . . . . . . . . 7 1.3.2 ORDER: Confronting Complexity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 1.3.3 DEAL: Carrying on Without Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

2 The Principles of Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 2.1 Beneficence: People are Embodied . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 2.2 Justice: People are Social . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 2.3 Respect for Personal Autonomy: People are Rational . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 2.4 The Human Condition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 2.5 The Basic Imperatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 2.6 Some Cases to Illustrate the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

2.6.1 End of Year Bonus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 2.6.2 Baby Samantha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 2.6.3 The Alcoholic in the Workplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

3 Professional Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 3.1 What Constitutes a “Profession”? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 3.2 Professional Ethics and Market Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 3.3 Professionals in Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

4 Some Considerations from Moral Psychology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 4.1 Evolutionary Psychology: What Darwin Tells Us About

How We Think . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 4.2 Acquiring Morals: The Track of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 4.3 Failing to Acquire Morals: What Can Go Wrong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 4.4 The Work of the Moral Psychologists: The Trolley Dilemma . . . . . . 57 4.5 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

Contents

1

How do we make ethical decisions, decisions that will stand up to challenges? Consider the following case.

1.1 The Impaired Driver

You have stayed about an hour longer than you intended to at a very pleasant party with your old college friends. While you were getting your law degree and starting prac- tice, your roommate Marty made it big on Wall Street. He hosted the party in his huge Riverside Drive apartment. All the old college ties were there—great memories, beer, booze, … hadn’t seen that in awhile. Good stuff, too.

Realizing you’re late, you race to the parking garage, elevator to the third floor, hop in your SUV, and tear around the turn toward the exit. Smash! Car parked in just the wrong place. You hit it dead center. You back up, get out, note that there is extensive damage to the other car—both doors on the driver’s side badly dented—but none to yours. What should you do?

You know damn well what to do. There’s clearly damage, lots of it, so you have to take out your cell phone, call the police, and wait there till they come. Watching you prop- ping yourself up against your SUV, they’ll insist on the inconvenience of a breathalyzer test. When they get the results of that, they’ll give you a chauffeured ride to the precinct station and insist further on a urine test. When they get the results of that, you may get to know the folks in the precinct very well before you see the sky again. You may very well—probably will—lose your license to operate a motor vehicle. The fines will be sub- stantial; you may lose your SUV. You may even go to jail. The damage to your reputation, and to your position in your law practice, will probably be irreparable; depending on the state, they may yank your license to practice law. That’s a lot to think about. Meanwhile, you are the only occupant of this parking garage at this hour. You could just drive back to Connecticut and not say anything to anyone.

What to do, indeed. The standard ethicist’s injunction, “Do the right thing,” may entail a terrible cost, and it is the agent, not the ethicist, who has to absorb it. Let’s think about it.

Chapter 1 Cases and Decisions

L. Newton, Ethical Decision Making: Introduction to Cases and Concepts in Ethics, SpringerBriefs in Ethics, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-00167-8_1, © The Author(s) 2013

2 1 Cases and Decisions

How do we make decisions in these cases? This is as good a place as any to introduce some of the terminology we’ll be using more