Moral reasoning

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Transcript Moral reasoning

Ethics and Moral reasoning
• Moral Reasoning is a systematic approach to making ethical
• It is a structured process, an intellectual means of defending our
ethical judgments against the criticisms of others
• Knowledge of ethical principles is important but it’s the application
and defense of rules of conduct that are core to moral reasoning
• Can you provide rational grounds upon which moral decisions have
been made?
• Different circumstances/ethical dilemmas- require the application
of ethical frameworks which moral agents can use to make ethical
• Moral judgments should be based on sound ethical theories and
defensible through reasoned analysis
• Process of moral decision making
• moral agent must posses knowledge and skills
in three areas:
– context
– philosophical foundations of moral theory
– critical thinking.
• Understanding of the three areas will support
moral decision making
The Context
• Ethical decisions are not made in a vacuum
• Moral agents must understand context within which the dilemma has
• Context consists of all factors that could influence an individuals resolution
• Understand the issue itself, facts of the situation, values, principles and
moral duties of the situation
• Contextual factors are often culturally determined (i.e. company values
and behavioral codes)
• Company values and behavioral codes can influence the rendering of moral
• Considerations that are unique to a particular situation constitute the
context of the ethical dilemma
• Moral agent must have knowledge of environment (social and cultural
The philosophical foundations of moral
• Ethical principles have contributed to an
individuals moral sense
• Ethical theories provide guidelines for moral
• They provide standards and principles for
evaluating moral judgments
• Virtues ethics emphasize character development
• Attain virtuous character through habits-practice moral reasoning
• Through repetitive moral behaviors, the notion of good is inculcated
into the individuals value system. Moral virtues become a way of
thinking and acting
• Care-based ethics: treat people affected by our decisions with respect.
• Moral decisions should be based on respect for the dignity of persons
as an end in itself than as means to an end.
• Deontology: the intent of the act is as important as the act itself.
• Moral agents have a duty to live up to moral principle
• Utilitarianism: consequences of an ethical judgment
• Recognize that difficult moral choices sometimes cause
injury to others
• Does not take into account the special obligations to
individuals or small group of people
• It forces us to weight the impact of our behavior on
• Relativism: what is good for one is not necessarily right or
good for another, even under similar circumstance.
• Determine what is right or wrong from one’s own view point
Critical thinking in moral reasoning
• Critical thinking is the engine that drives moral reasoning
• It can be traced back to the work of Socrates, Plato and
• It enables a more rational approach to decision making
• Requires one to devote time to analyzing and evaluating the
ethical dilemma and providing decision for ethical judgments
• Critical thinking is a skill that can be learnt
• It involves, to some extent, learning to know when to
question something and what sort of questions to ask
• Critical thinking begins with something to critically think about
(knowledge of the subject to be evaluated; principles and practices;
understanding of moral theories)
• Critical thinking requires an ability to identify problems and to gather,
analyze and synthesize all relevant information relating to the problem
• It also requires an ability to evaluate available alternatives and decisions
to be made
• The following list identifies the components of critical thinking that are
important for moral reasoning
– Acquisition of knowledge and an understanding of the context of the
ethical situation
– Critical analysis of that knowledge and consideration of ethical
– Decision based on available alternatives
A model of moral reasoning
• Situation Definition- acquire knowledge and facts and
understanding of the context of the ethical dilemma
• Understand the situation/subjects to be evaluated
– Description of facts
– Provide facts and details of the ethical situation; this may include,
where possible, the original purpose/intent of the action
– Identification of principles and values
– Identify relevant principles and values in an ethical
dilemma.(principles vary according to situation i.e. right to privacy,
justice, fairness, right to life, right to information, loyalty)
– Statement of ethical issue or question
– Provide a clear statement of the ethical question and the question
must be specific. For example; “it is permissible for public
communicators to withhold information in their communication?”
• Analysis- identify the issues, information and assumptions surrounding the
Examine the situation and evaluate the ethical alternatives
– Weighing of competing principles and values
– Examine the situation and identify conflicting principles and values
– Consideration of external factors
– Identify and understand external factors that may influence ethical
decision making (i.e. company policies, legal constraints, precedents,
political climate)
– Examination of duties to various parties
– Examine the standards of ethical conduct expected of a particular role
and the moral duties governing behavior
– Discussion of applicable ethical theories
– Evaluate ethical theories that you could apply in a moral dilemma. Look at the issue from
different ethical perspectives and identify the most appropriate ethical judgment
• Decision
– Rendering of moral agents decision
– Defense of that decision based- upon moral
– Examine alternative and reach a conclusion
– Use available information to make a decision and
defend decision based on situation definition,
situation analysis as well as moral theory
• Day, A.L. (2006). Ethics in Media
Communications: Cases and Controversies. (5th
Ed).USA: Wadsworth
• Benz, I. 2001. Moral Reasoning (SAD) Formula.
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