What are Decision Making Ethics?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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Decision making ethics is an area of ethics which pertains to making decisions. Ethics are standards of conduct which can be applied to a wide range of situations, from medical practice to running a major company. People make large and small choices every day within the framework of ethics, and decision making ethics looks specifically at how people make decisions and how ethics can be incorporated into making decisions.

There are a number of different approaches to ethics, including the utilitarian approach, the common good approach, the virtue approach, and the fairness approach. Each involves different values and beliefs which shape the ethics people apply to a situation. For example, the utilitarian approach is based on what accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number of people, once all costs and benefits of a decision have been made. The values of an ethical system play an important role in how people decide which choices are the most ethical.


The practice of decision making ethics looks at how people identify decisions with ethical impact and how they can work through a decision to arrive at an ethically choice. This process includes clearly describing and discussing the decision, weighing costs and benefits with the benefit of information about the decision, and ultimately developing several potential responses which can be tested before choosing the best response. Many people who work in this field also look at self-evaluation after the choice was made, as people reflect on what happened and whether or not the decision worked as intended.

Things to think about when applying decision making ethics include the impact that each potential choice will have, the goal of the decision, how people will respond, who will be impacted by the decision and which concerns should be centered in the decision making process, and how the decision will be applied. Considering all of these issues, people attempt to reach a choice which is ethical and defensible, even if it does not please everyone.

Decision making ethics can be applied to situations such as developing new workplace policy, running a business, taking care of patients, and making charitable donations. It is important to remember that ethics is a broad framework with many approaches and interpretations, and that individual situations need to be evaluated independently. What works in one case may not be ethical in another, even if the two cases appear superficially similar to observers.


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Post 4

Input is essential when making decisions. If people were to merely make all decisions on their own, we would never get anywhere. Humanity was meant to function in groups and make decisions as groups. There are different levels of autonomy, but generally, people form a cohesive whole and must work as a team.

Post 3

Oftentimes, a person's decision may run up against someone else's decision, because they both are valuing what they do based on how much it benefits them as an individual, rather than people in general. To be an effective representative or team member in any ethical business setting, you must be willing to let your self-oriented decisions be displaced by decisions which are aimed at the greater good.

Post 2

I think that the values that you hold to as well as the main goal of a decision should be the two deciding factors of what you are going to decide. If you are making it for your own good, make quantifiable measurements of which decision will benefit you as a person more. If the decision is to be made with the greater good in mind, then you will want to measure based on this. All in all, a good decision is up to you, and you are the one who decides what to value, although input is essential.

Post 1

well yeah, ethics should always be taught and learned. Having good ethics gets you to higher places in life

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