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ETHICS ESSAY INSTRUCTIONS ARE IN
ETHICAL DECISION MAKING ESSAY GUIDELINES 2016 (5).DOC.
A Framework for Thinking
Ethically(1) (5) (3).docx is the source to be used.
Picking Up the Slack Ethics Case
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Ethical Decision-Making Essay Grading
Rubric revised August 7 (7) (2).docx is ETHICS ESSAY GRADING
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Picking up the Slack
Greg and Natalie have been in business classes together since freshman year. While they’re not
close friends, they have always enjoyed each other’s company in class and have been in the same
social circle as they’ve moved from lower division courses to where they are now: senior
capstone. Greg and a few of his friends invite Natalie to join their group at the start of the term,
and they begin to work on their project.
Fairly quickly, though, Greg realizes that Natalie isn’t pulling her weight. Any aspect of the
project that’s assigned to her has to be redone by other members of the group, she doesn’t pay
attention in meetings, and she consistently shows up late or hung over. Greg and his other
groupmates think that Natalie needs to step it up and take this project seriously, but they
ultimately agree it would be more trouble than it’s worth to confront her about it. They decide to
just push through and let her do her own thing. Natalie continues to participate marginally in
discussions, planning, and writing, but makes it clear through her actions that their final
presentation is not her biggest priority.
After Greg’s group gives its final presentation, the members are asked to write an evaluation on
their teammates that the professor will use to determine individual grades. When it comes to
most of his teammates, Greg easily gives them all A’s and B’s for their participation and
contributions to the project. However, when Greg comes to Natalie’s evaluation, he is faced with
a dilemma. It’s their last big project before graduation, and if he were to evaluate her in a harsh
way, it could negatively affect her cumulative GPA. He doesn’t want to throw her under the bus;
however, her apathy and poor work ethic put a huge burden on everyone else’s shoulders, and
Greg had to personally sacrifice a lot of time and effort to make up for her mistakes or tasks that
she left undone.
Is it worth giving her an honest evaluation, just so the professor will give her the grade she
deserves? Or is giving her a bad evaluation petty and unnecessary, considering that they are all
about to graduate and their group received an A, regardless of her performance?
– See more at: http://www.scu.edu/r/ethics-center/ethicsblog/thebigq/15667/Picking-Up-theSlack#sthash.rIt9MhNt.dpuf
A Framework for Thinking Ethically
This document is designed as an introduction to thinking ethically. We all have an image of our
better selves of how we are when we act ethically or are “at our best.” We probably also have an
image of what an ethical community, an ethical business, an ethical government, or an ethical
society should be. Ethics really has to do with all these levels (acting ethically as individuals,
creating ethical organizations and governments, and making our society as a whole ethical in the
way it treats everyone).
What is Ethics?
Simply stated, ethics refers to standards of behavior that tell us how human beings ought to act in
the many situations in which they find themselves as friends, parents, children, citizens,
businesspeople, teachers, professionals, and so on.
It is helpful to identify what ethics is NOT:





Ethics is not the same as feelings. Feelings provide important information for our ethical
choices. Some people have highly developed habits that make them feel bad when they
do something wrong, but many people feel good even though they are doing something
wrong. And often our feelings will tell us it is uncomfortable to do the right thing if it is
hard.
Ethics is not religion. Many people are not religious, but ethics applies to everyone. Most
religions do advocate high ethical standards but sometimes do not address all the types of
problems we face.
Ethics is not following the law. A good system of law does incorporate many ethical
standards, but law can deviate from what is ethical. Law can become ethically corrupt, as
some totalitarian regimes have made it. Law can be a function of power alone and
designed to serve the interests of narrow groups. Law may have a difficult time designing
or enforcing standards in some important areas, and may be slow to address new
problems.
Ethics is not following culturally accepted norms. Some cultures are quite ethical, but
others become corrupt or blind to certain ethical concerns (as the United States was to
slavery before the Civil War). “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is not a satisfactory
ethical standard.
Ethics is not science. Social and natural science can provide important data to help us
make better ethical choices. But science alone does not tell us what we ought to do.
Science may provide an explanation for what humans are like. But ethics provides
reasons for how humans ought to act. And just because something is scientifically or
technologically possible, it may not be ethical to do it.
Why Identifying Ethical Standards is Hard
There are two fundamental problems in identifying the ethical standards we are to follow:
1. On what do we base our ethical standards?
2. How do those standards get applied to specific situations we face?
If our ethics are not based on feelings, religion, law, accepted social practice, or science, what
are they based on? Many philosophers and ethicists have helped us answer this critical question.
They have suggested at least five different sources of ethical standards we should use.
Five Sources of Ethical Standards
1. The Utilitarian Approach
Some ethicists emphasize that the ethical action is the one that provides the most good or
does the least harm, or, to put it another way, produces the greatest balance of good over
harm. The ethical corporate action, then, is the one that produces the greatest good and does
the least harm for all who are affected, i.e., customers, employees, shareholders, the
community, and the environment. Ethical warfare balances the good achieved in ending
terrorism with the harm done to all parties through death, injuries, and destruction. The
utilitarian approach deals with consequences; it tries both to increase the good done and to
reduce the harm done.
2. The Rights Approach
Other philosophers and ethicists suggest that the ethical action is the one that best protects
and respects the moral rights of those affected. This approach starts from the belief that
humans have a dignity based on their human nature per se or on their ability to choose freely
what they do with their lives. On the basis of such dignity, they have a right to be treated as
ends and not merely as means to other ends. The list of moral rights -including the rights to
make one’s own choices about what kind of life to lead, to be told the truth, not to be injured,
to a degree of privacy, and so on-is widely debated; some now argue that non-humans have
rights, too. Also, it is often said that rights imply duties-in particular, the duty to respect
others’ rights.
3. The Fairness or Justice Approach
Aristotle and other Greek philosophers have contributed the idea that all equals should be
treated equally. Today we use this idea to say that ethical actions treat all human beings
equally-or if unequally, then fairly based on some standard that is defensible. We pay people
more based on their harder work or the greater amount that they contribute to an
organization, and say that is fair. But there is a debate over CEO salaries that are hundreds of
times larger than the pay of others; many ask whether the huge disparity is based on a
defensible standard or whether it is the result of an imbalance of power and hence is unfair.
4. The Common Good Approach
The Greek philosophers have also contributed the notion that life in community is a good in
itself and our actions should contribute to that life. This approach suggests that the
interlocking relationships of society are the basis of ethical reasoning and that respect and
compassion for all others-especially the vulnerable-are requirements of such reasoning. This
approach also calls attention to the common conditions that are important to the welfare of
everyone. This may be a system of laws, effective police and fire departments, health care, a
public educational system, or even public recreational areas.
5. The Virtue Approach
A very ancient approach to ethics is that ethical actions ought to be consistent with certain
ideal virtues that provide for the full development of our humanity. These virtues are
dispositions and habits that enable us to act according to the highest potential of our character
and on behalf of values like truth and beauty. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity,
tolerance, love, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of
virtues. Virtue ethics asks of any action, “What kind of person will I become if I do this?” or
“Is this action consistent with my acting at my best?”
Putting the Approaches Together
Each of the approaches helps us determine what standards of behavior can be considered ethical.
There are still problems to be solved, however.
The first problem is that we may not agree on the content of some of these specific approaches.
We may not all agree to the same set of human and civil rights. We may not agree on what
constitutes the common good. We may not even agree on what is a good and what is a harm.
The second problem is that the different approaches may not all answer the question “What is
ethical?” in the same way. Nonetheless, each approach gives us important information with
which to determine what is ethical in a particular circumstance. And much more often than not,
the different approaches do lead to similar answers.
Making Decisions
Making good ethical decisions requires a trained sensitivity to ethical issues and a practiced
method for exploring the ethical aspects of a decision and weighing the considerations that
should impact our choice of a course of action. Having a method for ethical decision making is
absolutely essential. When practiced regularly, the method becomes so familiar that we work
through it automatically without consulting the specific steps.
The more novel and difficult the ethical choice we face, the more we need to rely on discussion
and dialogue with others about the dilemma. Only by careful exploration of the problem, aided
by the insights and different perspectives of others, can we make good ethical choices in such
situations.
The following framework for ethical decision making is a useful method for exploring ethical
dilemmas and identifying ethical courses of action.
A Framework for Ethical Decision Making
STEP 1: Recognize an Ethical Issue


Could this decision or situation be damaging to someone or to some group? Does this
decision involve a choice between a good and bad alternative, or perhaps between two
“goods” or between two “bads”?
Is this issue about more than what is legal or what is most efficient? If so, how?
STEP 2: Get the Facts



What are the relevant facts of the case? What facts are not known? Can I learn more
about the situation? Do I know enough to make a decision?
What individuals and groups have an important stake in the outcome? Are some concerns
more important? Why?
What are the options for acting? Have all the relevant persons and groups been
consulted? Have I identified creative options?
STEP 3: Evaluate Alternative Actions

Evaluate the options by asking the following questions:





Which option will produce the most good and do the least harm? (The Utilitarian
Approach)
Which option best respects the rights of all who have a stake? (The Rights Approach)
Which option treats people equally or proportionately? (The Justice Approach)
Which option best serves the community as a whole, not just some members?
(The Common Good Approach)
Which option leads me to act as the sort of person I want to be? (The Virtue
Approach)
STEP 4: Make a Decision and Test It


Considering all these approaches, which option best addresses the situation?
If I told someone I respect which option I have chosen, what would they say?
STEP 5: Act and Reflect on the Outcome


How can my decision be implemented with the greatest care and attention to the concerns
of all stakeholders?
How did my decision turn out and what have I learned from this specific situation?
This framework for thinking ethically is the product of dialogue and debate at the Markkula
Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Primary contributors include Manuel
Velasquez, Dennis Moberg, Michael J. Meyer, Thomas Shanks, Margaret R. McLean, David
DeCosse, Claire André, and Kirk O. Hanson. It was last revised in May 2009.
ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING CASE STUDY
Essay Directions
ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW
The case study for this ethical decision-making essay assignment was written by Chloe Wilson and is titled
Picking up the Slack (2013). This case study presents a common ethical dilemma that you find when working
on a team. Your assignment is to write an essay analyzing this ethical scenario. The following are the steps to
follow:







Read Picking up the Slack case study so you understand the ethical dilemma that Greg is facing.
Explain why this is an ethical issue that requires an ethical decision.
When facing an ethical situation, one way to determine what action to take is to examine how ethical
theories impact decision making. Think of ethical theories as different decision-making styles or
decision rules.
Learn more about ethical theories by reading some of the articles listed on the reference page. One
source is A Framework for Thinking Ethically. It describes the Five Approaches to Ethical Standards.
After reading the Framework article, find at least two other sources that you will use in your essay. One
of these sources may be your textbook.
Once you understand the ethical theories, analyze the ethical dilemma from more than one ethical
perspective. How would you apply these different ethical perspectives to this dilemma? Suggest steps
to solve the ethical issue. Discuss the possible consequences of the solution. Determine the action
Greg should take using more than one ethical standard.
• A Glossary of Ethical Terms is listed on pages 3-4 of this assignment.
• A reference list of online sources follows the glossary on the last page of this assignment.
Now that you know more about ethical decision-making and determined a course of action based on
these approaches, analyze this dilemma from your own ethical perspective. What values and beliefs
guide your decision and actions? What would you do if you were Greg?
ESSAY FORMAT REQUIREMENTS






600 – 800 words total (about 2 ½ – 3 1/2 pages).
Your name and section number in the top right hand corner of the first page.
Center the title of essay at the top of the first page.
Double-spaced using 12-point Times New Roman or Calibri.
Four sources (see information below.)
Proof your essay for grammar, syntax, and spelling errors. Use effective word and phrase choices.
1
SOURCES ARE REQUIRED USING MLA or APA STYLE


In your essay, you will refer to the Picking up the Slack case study and A Framework for Thinking
Ethically article. These sources must be cited in the text of your essay and in your Works Cited or
References page. Otherwise it is considered plagiarizing.
In addition to these two sources, two other sources are required of which one may be your textbook.
• Plagiarizing Policy: If all sources are not properly cited in the essay and Works Cited or
References page, then zero point will be earned for this assignment.
ESSAY GUIDELINES (How to write your essay)
1st Create the Introduction (first paragraph):




Write as if you do not know who will be reading your essay and assume your reader has not read the
case study.
Clearly state the ethical dilemma that will be analyzed in the essay (topic sentence).
Provide a brief summary so the reader has a full understanding of the issue (remember the reader has
not read the case study). Summarize the situation with fairness to all parties.
End your introduction with a clearly stated purpose, which is your thesis statement. Tell your reader
what will follow in the body of your essay.
2nd Develop the Body (2-4 paragraphs):


After reading A Framework for Thinking Ethically, follow the directions above and analyze the ethical
dilemma using the Five Approaches to Ethical Standards. Consider the implications and consequences
of each decision if these approaches were applied to this situation. Assume your reader has no
knowledge about these approaches so explain the key concepts. (2-3 paragraphs)
If you were involved in a situation like this, what would you do? Analyze the situation from your own
ethical perspective. Clarify the beliefs and values that guide your ethical thinking, conduct, and
decision-making. Did your decision change after learning more about the Five Approaches to Ethical
Standards that you can use to evaluate an ethical dilemma? (1 paragraph)
o For the body of your essay, follow these writing guidelines:
o Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that effectively states the purpose of the
paragraph.
o Develop sentences that are logical and clear. Ideas should flow logically. Paragraphs should
be unified and work together to support the thesis.
o Make paragraphs coherent by using effective and appropriate transitions between ideas
and paragraphs.
3rd Write the Conclusion (last paragraph):


Restate the thesis.
Provide a summary and closure.
2
Essay Checklist and Important Reminders





















The essay should not sound as if the writer is answering a series of questions.
The purpose of the essay should be clear to the reader.
The thesis should be clearly stated in the introduction.
Relevant background information should be provided in the introduction so the audience has a clear
understanding of the ethical issue and why an ethical decision is required.
The introduction should engage the reader.
The essay is well-organized.
The essay is written in Standard English.
The essay is free of grammatical and syntax errors.
Word choice and phrases are appropriate and effective.
Main ideas are fully developed, supported, and show critical thinking.
Ideas flow logically. Sentence structure is correct, coherent, and varied.
Outside sources are integrated smoothly in the essay. The essay includes correctly formatted in-text
citations and a correct Works Cited or References page.
The essay follows MLA or APA guidelines.
The conclusion provides closure and restates the thesis.
The essay reflects a sense of audience.
The tone and style are appropriate for the essay’s purpose and audience.
There is a clear voice and point of view. The writer is identified with a quality (honesty, sincerity,
intelligence). The audience should get a sense of the writer.
Facts are distinguished from opinions.
Opinions are supported and qualified.
Opposing views are represented fairly.
Essay is spell-checked and edited.
GLOSSARY OF ETHICAL TERMS (by AACU and Stephen F. Austin State University)






Character traits associated with ethics include honesty, truth-seeking, integrity, responsibility, respect,
compassion and empathy.
A core belief is a principle or fundamental belief which guides a person’s actions or decisions. A core
belief can change over time.
Ethics refer to standards of right and wrong that influence our core beliefs and values, our ethical
conduct and ethical thinking. Our ethics guide our daily actions and behavior, including our
communication with family, friends, co-workers, and the community.
An ethical dilemma is a problem or situation that requires a person to choose between alternatives
based on standards of moral conduct.
Ethical standards impose obligations to “do the right thing,” to stand up for …
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