Monday, August 31, 2009

"What do you do?"

All throughout our lives, everyone faces ethical issues and has to decide “What do you do?” These issues can occur in social settings with your friends to problems in the professional world. Growing up my parents taught me right from wrong, but who actually has to the right to set these rules? After reading the ethical theories of Aristotle, Kant, Utilitarianism, and Feminist/Ethics of Care, it was easy to determine that my upbringing and morals coincide best with Aristotle’s theory.

In the government case study, an employee is met with question of following the company’s instructions or his/her own values. The employee wants to provide accurate information to the pamphlets’ readers; but on the other hand, the company is pushing for a specific vision of statistics, word choice, and audience. So again the question arises of “What do you do?”

I believe that by using Aristotle’s perspective of ethics a smart solution can be obtained. Aristotle’s view mainly deals with personal character and virtues. He believes that a person must make ethical decisions based on reasoned behaviors. Applying these views on a modern level, I think that the employee could take several appropriate actions. First of all, if the employee deems the information displayed in the pamphlets to be unethical, then this issue should be discussed with the company manager. A person should be allowed to voice their own opinions and concerns to a certain level in the professional world without being reprimanded. When attention is brought to the ethics of the company’s actions, then changes may or may not be made. Whatever the outcome, the employee could at least be proud of his/hers own actions and acknowledgment of the wrong tactics. On the other hand, it is difficult to determine the how far the employee should pursue his/hers ethical beliefs because the employee’s financial well-being is also at stake. Especially in today’s economy, a person’s financial stability is hard to overlook when determining ethical decisions. Therefore, as wrong as it may sound, it might not be the most beneficial to the employee to follow what he/she knows what is right. Ultimately in this case I believe that the ethical decision is based on "reasoned behavior" as Aristotle suggests. A person must reason between his/her own virtues as well as their economic stability. Maybe an even more prudent question in this case study is "When should ethics be the deciding factor?"

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