It is the purpose of this paper to explain the process by which I have come to develop my own ethical framework and apply this framework to an ethical dilemma. I have discovered through my research that an ethical framework is a collection of guidelines, usually in question format, that function together to support and reinforce the ethical decision-making process. Ethical frameworks can be designed and applied in both personal life settings and professional work environments. By implementing an ethical framework, whether for personal use or for a professional environment, individuals, team-members and leaders can be assured that the decisions they are making are thought-out and their actions are ethical.
When I started to think about developing an ethical framework my first thought was of Isaac Newton, who is commonly known for the idea that, for every action there is a reaction. This thought became the foundation upon which I began my research. I obtained articles that contemplated the role of values, personality, and emotions within the ethical decision-making process. I paired this research with a well-developed ethical framework by Santa Clara University and James Rest’s Model of Moral Action. These developed ideas and ethical decision-making foundations allowed me to contemplate, identify and understand how I could come to ethical decisions and how these decisions would determine my ethical actions.
Ethical Framework: Starting with Research
Outlined in Organizational Ethics by Craig Johnson (2012) are the “Components of Personal Ethical Development” (Johnson, 2012, p. 49). This is where my research began; I felt that it was important to first identify my current state of moral behavior and values. “Personal moral values are “desirable goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in peoples lives” (Johnson, 2012, p. 55). I spent a little time listing my personal values. Of the many that came to mind, honesty, respect and kindness were at the top. These three values became the starting point for my decision-making process.
Next, I questioned the role my emotions have within my framework, because I am generally guided by personal feelings. “Emotions provide important data about what’s happening to us, to others and in the environment” (Johnson, 2012, p. 128). In Emotion and Ethical Decision-Making in Organizations by Alice Gaudine and Linda Thorne, they explore “how emotion affects the components of individuals' ethical decision-making process” (Gaudine & Thorne, 2001). The article outlines that individuals feel two components of emotion at the same time, a state of “arousal” and a “feeling state” (Gaudine & Thorne, 2001). The arousal state ranges from feeling low, such as bored, to heighten, such as feeling elated, depending on the intensity of the situation. The feeling state is identified as positive, such as “joy and optimism”, or negative, such as “anger, depression, fear and frustration”...