Ethical Decision Models & Problem-Solving Methodologies

7 Step Guide

Moral Model

State the problem (specific thought or feeling that prompts you to feel uncomfortable). 

Check facts (consider all points of view). 

Identify relevant factors (people involved, laws, personal codes of conduct, etc.). 

Develop a list of options (consider a variety of decisions or solutions). 

Test the options. 

Make a choice. 

Review previous steps (consider how you could avoid having to make this decision in the future). 

Massage the dilemma

Outline the options

Resolve the dilemma

Act by applying

Look back and evaluate entire process

Harm test: Does this option do less harm than the alternatives? 

Publicity test: Would I want my choice of this option published in the newspaper?   Would I want my grandmother to know? 

Defensibility test: Could I defend this choice of option before a committee of peers, or a Congressional Committee without appearing self-serving? 

Reversibility test: Would I still think this choice of option was good if it were applied to me instead of others especially if some of the effects are adverse? 

Colleague test: What might my profession's governing board or ethics committee say about this option? 

Organization test: What does my organization's ethics officer or legal counsel say about this? 

Virtue test: Would a virtuous person do this? What kind of person does this? What kind of person would I become if I did this kind of thing all the time? 

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