How to Deal with the Unethical Side of Ethics

In the wake of the most recent election season in the US, it’s no secret that the ethics of each candidate has been called into question numerous times. In fact, when you really get into the nitty gritty of it all, the choice for many may come down to which candidate is slightly more ethical than the other, and which ethical discrepancies can we live with.

All politics aside, ethical decision making affects all of us, especially in the workplace. From an outside perspective, it is sometimes hard to understand why someone would make the choice they did when ethics are concerned. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but while dealing with an ethical situation, the choices may not always be as clear as we’d like to think. Not all ethical situations are cut and dry and many of us will run into an ethical dilemma at some point in our professional or personal lives.

Unfortunately for most of us, the ethical situations we run into may have a positive and negative side to each choice. Or we may be forced to make a choice where all possible outcomes are unpleasant. How are we supposed to decide what to do? How can we make sure at the end of the day we’re happy with the decision made and can move on?

Philosophers have been studying the art of ethical decision making for centuries and still don’t have a clear cut method to determining the best decision. Some believe the right choice is the one that hurts the fewest while others believe you must always take the moral high ground, no matter the cost. All this really means is that the decision is yours and you’ll need to do the best you can to remain ethical by your standards or the standards of your employer.

So how do you make ethical decisions when faced with the unethical side of ethics? Here are a few steps to help:

  • Analyze the Situation. First, you’ll need to gather as much information as possible and try to remain neutral as you analyze it. Keep the big picture in mind and figure out how each piece relates to the other.
  • Consider Possible Outcomes. As you piece the facts together, make predictions about the future. Make your best judgement on what the result of each choice you have could be. It’s important to listen to what your instincts are telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
  • Ask an Important Question. Finally, ask yourself whether you could live with making your decision. Would you be willing to tell others what you had done? Or would you feel guilty, embarrassed or ashamed if someone found out. Your own feelings on choices you make are pretty telling as to whether or not you are happy with your decision. It’s also important to be capable of explaining the basis you made your decision on. If you find that you don’t really know why you’re making the choice you are, you probably haven’t thought it through enough yet.

Of course not everyone will come to the same ethical conclusion, which is why certain topics in politics have always been red hot. The important thing is that you work to make sure you make the most ethically sound decision for you. After all, you are the one that will have to live with the consequences, however drastic they may be.

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