Principled Reasoning and Ethical Decisions

As the world becomes more complicated the need for ethical business choices moves to the forefront. Corporation’s decisions can affect the world in a positive or negative manner on an ever-larger scale. The five steps of principled reasoning give some order and sense to a subject that can be too open to interpretation. Having a clear process for ethical decisions removes the bias and provides a streamlined path to better business.

As a business owner, the simplest way to lay out this process is to shorten it to five steps and three simple questions. The five steps are:
1. Clarify
2. Evaluate
3. Decide
4. Implement
5. Monitor and Modify

The three litmus questions for evaluation are:
Are you treating others as you would want to be treated?
Would you be comfortable if your reasoning and decision were to be publicized?
Would you be comfortable if your children were observing you?
(Josephson Institute of Ethics, 1999)

It can be complicated to balance the pressures of company growth and profit with decision making that benefit all and not just a few. In Ethics Scorecard Rule Book, a project of ProEthics, by the Josephson Institute of Ethics there are five main steps outlined in ethical decision making. What complicates the situation even more is trying to ensure all within your company are operating with your ethical ideals in mind. By using the Josephson Institutes guidelines, one can begin to develop a standard for ethical decision making, and in turn, create a template for others to follow.

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