Ethics Essay

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G. The Seven Step Method for Analyzing Ethical Situations SOURCE: From Class Notes by J. Brooke Hamilton III Ph.D., Management Department, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, based on material developed by Patricia Werhane, Norman Bowie, John Boatright, Manuel Velasquez, and others for Arthur Anderson and Company, The Pace Program. St. Charles, Illinois (1990). Another tool for analyzing ethical situations is to follow the Seven Step Method for deciding what action to take in a situation. The method involves answering seven “what” questions: 1. The Facts? 2. The Ethical Issues? 3. The Alternatives? 4. The Stakeholders? 5. The Ethics of the Alternatives? 6. The Practical Constraints? 7. Actions to Take? One reason for using the seven step method is to provide a mental checklist to insure completeness in making the ethical analysis. A person making an ethical decision needs a procedure to follow to insure that she makes her decision with rationality and respect--a decision procedure that can insure that she has considered all the relevant factors and have taken into account the interests of others as well as herself. Velasquez has developed a seven step method for this purpose. Most decision makers, when confronted with an ethical decision, would consider most of the relevant factors. The seven step method provides a mental checklist to insure that the essential factors are included. The method also provides a framework for locating difficulties and disagreements. By separating facts from ethical issues, for example, the framework allows us to determine whether a disagreement is over the facts or over the ethical issues. In discussing a social policy to control violence with firearms, for example, the question of whether cheap handguns are used in a significant percentage of violent incidents is a factual question. The question of whether U.S. citizens have a right

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