Ethics in Decision Making


Businesses and organizations are faced with a growing need for observing ethics in the decision-making process. Ethical issues in most cases are related to the conflicting nature of values. In such a case, the individual values differ from the social norms leading to a conflicting situation. Socialization process is required to be instilled at all levels of an organization which will likely lead to the adoption of practices that may lead to implantation of ethical decisions and practices (Maheshwari, 2006). The concept of ethics related to the determination of good and right in our actions. Ethical values are a particular set of values that match the social norms and are generally accepted by the large community.

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Ethical problems are problems related to the choice. The ethical issues arise due to the conflicting nature of standards and interest. An organization in most cases is accountable to different stakeholders such as employees, investors, customers, government, and suppliers. Ethical decision-making process may involve some stages such as moral awareness which helps an individual recognize a moral problem in a particular situation and the need of applying a moral principle in achieving it (Trevino, Weaver, & Reynolds, 2006).

In the analysis of the ethical theory and concept, one thing that is revealed it on ethical relativism. This concept introduces the concept that there are no moral absolutes which means that there are no moral rights and wrong. It stipulates that what is morally wrong or right is tied to the social norms which differ from place to place. The ascertain indicated above gives room for a variety of cultures and practices (McClintock, 2014). This paper will carry out an analysis of ethical issues, relate it to ethical theories, expound on the concept of ethical relativism and use the resulting knowledge to recommend the best solution to the ethical issue at hand.

The Ethical Issue

The case under analysis here involves two employees in a Middletown Hospital working in the Business Office. The cumulative experience of the two employees is 18 years. Cassandra Edwards is tasked with the responsibility of following up on denial and ensuring that these are appealed and secure money to the organization, a position she has served for seven years. Egypt Philips has served the hospital for 11 years and is Cassandra’s immediate supervisor. Cassandra’s track record on her position has enabled her to get promoted to the position of Lead account manager which came with a higher pay raise.

The two forms a great team with the great working relationship. This has earned them the name “Cash Team” at Middletown Hospital. Cassandra is grateful to be working under the supervision and guidance of Egypt. After seven years in work, Cassandra becomes pregnant. This coincides with a time when she was bound for a promotion to the position of Manager of Accounts. The Vice President of the Revenue Cycle, Judy Salt, eliminated Cassandra from the list of potential candidates after discovering about her pregnancy. She makes Egypt aware of this situation.

Cassandra got upset by the fact that she had been eliminated as a candidate for the position of Manager of Accounts. She held a discussion with Egypt on the subject matter. Egypt could not, however, disclose to her the reasons behind her removal from the list.

The ethical issue in this scenario arise on whether Egypt to should let Cassandra aware that the reason for her removal as a candidate is because of her pregnancy. This was an illegal act. Judy Salt got disappointed that Cassandra was pregnant and feared that she had lost her focus. The result of Egypt telling Cassandra is that it may make her lose her job. Failure to inform her may make her lose her or even see this end up in a lawsuit. This call for Egypt to exercise ethical decision-making in deciding how to act.

Traditional Theories

The theories to be considered in this will be the normative ethical theories. These are categorized into teleological, consequentialist, and deontological (Pfordeten, 2012). The teleological ethical theories are inclined to the norms of ethics focused on the well-being of the people by reliance on the natural laws. The consequentialist’s theories base their ethical consideration only on the result of the actions. The deontological theories are bases their foundations on the underlying reasons for the actions such as intention.

Teleological Theories

The teleological theories base a decision on a moral action on the consequences of the behavior rather than the action itself. This implies that the end goals or purpose should inform on our action in an ethics-demanding situation. This implies that in using this theory one needs to consider the on the ultimate goal of ethics. Teleological theories may also borrow some concepts from the consequentialist due to its focus on its ultimate goal or purpose. According to this theory, to achieve the best ethical decision, one needs to consider the one that will lead to the overall goal. In our scenario, if Egypt was to use this theory, she would not inform Cassandra of the reason behind her elimination. The reasoning for this will be to avoid negative consequences that may result from acting otherwise where Cassandra may lose her job and their light be litigation in the courts over the matter.

Consequentialist theories

Under the consequentialist theories; two theories will be considered the egoism and Utilitarianism. The general principle for this category of the theory is that the moral right decisions that an individual may make at a given moment should be the one that gives the best overall results. Under the utilitarianism, the major importance of ethical decision-making is to increase the number of good things which increases pleasure and happiness. The justification for an ethically right action should only be justifiable based on the positive contribution it makes on to human beings. The thumb rule under the utilitarianism is that one should an action that offers the best consequences (Marques, 2015). Using this to consider the scenario, Egypt has two choices; informing Cassandra that she was eliminated due to her pregnancy or not inform her. Informing her will may make her lose her job, lead to litigations and thereby lose her from her team. Not telling her, will only lead her having allowed the occurrence of an illegal act. Amongst the two choices, not informing Cassandra yield the highest positive consequences.

The egoism theories considers that every person should pursue their own self-interest. It also holds that no one is responsible for the interests of another party. It thereby seeks to offer guidance on how we should behave. A person’s decision should be the one that best serves their interest. It is argued that when all individuals pursue their own self-interest, it helps enhance the general good as all individuals will be aiming to improve themselves.  It is also justified by the argument that sacrificing one’s personal interest for the sake of others, is a means of obstructing one from receiving the fundamental value of one’s own life. Using the principles of egoism theory, Egypt would make a decision on not informing Cassandra on reasons behind her elimination from the list of appointment to the position of the manager. Her interest is to maintain Cassandra as part of the Business team. Any action leading to her elimination from this will be against her self-interest of having a capable and experienced team.

Deontological theories

Deontological theories propose that the concept of morality is based on one performing their moral obligations. This implies that individuals are required to take some ethical decision to promote the rule. The Deontological theories emphasize on the availability of universal ethical principles that need to adhere to irrespective of the outcomes. It puts focus on the need for motives rather than the outcome. The principles under this theory imply that any action against the duty is ethically wrong and should therefore not be carried out even under its hold lifesaving power in the life-threatening situation. On the principles described unto this theory is doing unto others what one would like done unto them.

The deontological theories posse and reasoning that morality of choices is to be assessed in reference to the state of affairs of this choice. One cannot hold backing for decisions based on their resulting effects. In this case, an action is considered are ethically wrong it is against the duty owed despite it having good consequences (Vitolina, Cals, & Sumilo, 2016). In the scenario presented, Egypt owes a moral duty to Cassandra to inform of the reason that made her be eliminated from the list of those to be considered for the open post of Manager of Accounts. She should not first consider what would result from this action. She needs to only establish if she owes a duty to inform Cassandra and in this case, she does, thereby she should inform Cassandra.

Ethical Relativism

The principle of ethical relativism holds out that application of ethical principles or judgments varies from one individual to another. Relativism as a concept deals with the validity of norms and values in an environment that is always changing, dynamic, and diverse. The concept does not give the implication that the norms, values, and ethics should be rejected but rather as opposed to the presence of definite rules and principles. The principle appreciates that every individual, culture, and nation holds different viewpoint and perspectives on a particular issue. Rational egoism attempts to promote the idea of holding a personal opinion but in a manner that tries to understand and acknowledge the perspective of others (Hayry, 2005).

The theoretical concept of Ethical Relativism holds that ethical considerations are dependent on the norms and culture of one’s culture. In deciding whether an action is ethically right or wrong, one should act within the moral boundaries of their society. This implies that what may be morally correct in one culture may be wrong in another. It means that when it comes to ethics, there are no ethical considerations to be made (Palmer, 1973). The only applicable moral standards measures that can be applied to a society are only its own. This implies if a matter under consideration is from different societies there is exists no common platform which can be applied in getting a remedy for the moral dispute (McDonald, 2010).

Those who tend to reject and criticize ethical relativism indicate that even if moral practices in different society are different, the fundamental moral foundations for these practices are similar. The critics argue that societies may be different in how they apply the fundamental moral foundations but agree on the principles themselves. More argument against the case of ethical relativism is based on the fact that some moral beliefs can be relative such as dressing and decency while to practices are governed through the use of universe moral standards such as slavery and torture. This means that the principle of ethical relativism can only be used selectively in some cases (Ravenscroft & Clark, 2008). 

The Best Solution

In this, Egypt is faced with an ethical dilemma. This is on whether to inform the Cassandra who is her colleague and teammate the reason that made her name eliminated from the list of these being considered for the situation. The effects on telling Cassandra of the reason will open doors for her to raise complaints of the legality of this form of discrimination. Cassandra may lose her job in even charge to the hospital in court. In this case scenario, Egypt should approach the Revenue cycle manager Judy on the need of having Cassandra considered for the position despite her pregnancy status. Judy’s fear is based on the assumption that Cassandra has lost focus on her duties. Since Egypt is the direct supervisor to Cassandra she can offer a recommendation to Judy on the level of focus that Cassandra puts in her duties. This will eliminate the need for Egypt being worried about whether or whether not to tell the Cassandra in not.


Hayry, M. (2005). A Defense of Ethical Relativism. PubMed.

Maheshwari, S. K. (2006). Ethics in Organizations: The Case of Tata Steel. VIKALPA.

Marques, J. (2015). Universalim and Utilitariasm: An Evaluation of Two Popular Moral Theories in Business Decisions Making. The Journal of Values-Based Leadership.

McClintock, T. (2014). The Argument for Ethical Relativism from the Diversity of Morals. The Monist, 528-544.

McDonald, G. (2010). Ethical Relativism vs Absolutism: Research Implication. European Business Review , 446-464.

Palmer, L. (1973). Absolutism and Relativism . Journal of History of Philosophy, 133-138.

Pfordeten, D. (2012). Five Elements of Normative Ethics- A General Theory of Normative Individualism. Ethical and Moral Practice, 449-472.

Ravenscroft, S., & Clark, G. (2008). Cultural and Ethical Relativism . Journal of Teaching In International Business, 33-49.

Trevino, L., Weaver, G., & Reynolds, S. (2006). Behavioral Ethics in Organizations. Journal of Management, 951-990.

Vitolina, I., Cals, I., & Sumilo, E. (2016). Is Ethics Rational? Teleological, Deontological and Virtue Ethics Theories Reconciled in the Context of Traditional Economic Decision Making. Procedia Economics and Finance , 108-114.

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