This Paper through The Ethics Awareness Inventory seeks to describe the writer’s own ethical perspective. The Ethics Awareness Inventory refers to a series of characterizations representing the four prominent categories of ethical philosophy: character or virtue, obligation or deontology, results or utilitarianism, and equity or relativism.
The writer’s scores are as follows: character: 10, obligation: 1, results: -2, and equity: -9. The largest combined score, which in this case is character, reflects the writer’s own perspective on ethics, while the lowest combined score, which in this case is equity reflects the values least in agreement with the writer’s views on ethics.
II. Ethical Perspectives
The writer’s high score in the aspect of character translates to the fact that he/she believes in the ability of each and every individual to make sound moral judgments. Ethical decision-making concerns an underlying good moral character, which will enable an individual to make difficult choices amidst a complex ethical dilemma. This means that there is an underlying and over-arching Good that influences and shapes an individual’s ethical character. For the writer, there is a sense of the absoluteness of right and wrong.
This also translates into the belief that ethical decision-making should not be a mediocre process. Instead, ethical decision-making is equated to an excellent and exemplary skill in making difficult choices. Mediocrity means mere substantial compliance with the standards that are imposed on an individual, while an excellent and exemplary skill means the capacity to exceed these standards and to place a mark of one’s good individuality in decision-making.
As the writer obtained the lowest score in the matter of equity, this means that the writer has difficulty in accepting the belief that there are no absolute standards of right and wrong. Ethical character should not be based on a person’s circumstances but instead on the ability to make decisions based on what is good or bad. The writer rejects the concept of relativity of moral or ethical standards.
A high score in the matter of character translates into the ethical perspective on what is good to be rather than what is good to do. A good ethical decision means a decision that is good in one’s head and not necessarily good translated into action. This is why when asked to judge whether a person’s actions are ethical, the person who scores high in character looks beyond the individual’s action but into the individual’s character, whether or not he is upright and has integrity. This is because this person believes that as virtues are translated into concrete action, virtues are not mere abstract principles, they do exist. Excellence in ethical decision-making and not mediocrity, as always, should be the goal.
A high score in the matter of obligations translates into the belief that ethical decision-making should be based on an individual’s duty or obligation to do what is morally right. There is an ought or the imperative to do the good, which is the basis for ethical-decision making. In evaluating a person’s decisions, one who scores high in obligation looks at the decision-maker’s intent in making the decision rather than on the result of the decision. Such person believes that the end never justifies the means. More so, such person believes that there are universals or universal principles that enable a person to make clear-cut and delineated decisions. This is in contrast with the next category of results and also from equity, which further the thesis that decision-making is relative and circumstantial.
In contrast with the above, a person who scores high in results believe that the end justifies the means. This translates to the fact that there are really no universal or set-guiding principles there are only circumstances that influence a person to decide in different manners while presented with different circumstances. A result-oriented person, as he/she looks into results require empirical evidence in assuring oneself that what was ethical in a particular circumstance was undertaken. Such person is action-oriented rather than speech oriented, compared to a character-oriented person who processes ethical decisions through his/her cognition rather than through action. This is why a result-oriented person does not dwell on long standing discussions but on action.
An equity-oriented person’s decision-making characteristic springs from the skepticism on the stability of human judgment to make the correct or ethical decision. In addition to skepticism, pragmatism fuels an equity-oriented person. For such person, no universal principles exist such that only practical day-to-day experience is the only reasonable guide to action.
III. Issues in the Workplace
As a character-oriented person believes in the existence of universal principles that should guide an individual in making ethical decisions, he/she finds it difficult to accept decisions made by superiors that run contrary to this belief; take for instance a decision that takes justification in the results rather than in principles. For example in the workplace, in order to boost sales and maximize profits, the character-oriented person engages in anti-trust trading. This means that the company deals discreetly with the rival company in order to peg the price of goods at a price that is both beneficial and profitable for both companies. This is unacceptable to a character-oriented person because he/she cannot process inside his head such distrustful transaction. For him/her, such is a violation of honesty and integrity that must be accorded the consumers.
Such character-oriented person also finds it difficult to undertake quick-fixes in the workplace. For instance, a contract that needs approval of a government agency or official is yet pending with such government office. As the contract remains unapproved, the company6 is losing its investment and possible profit, the superior then takes the government official to dinner, and through some coaxing convinces the government official to indorse or approve the contract. This is reprehensible for a character-oriented person.
A character-oriented person also finds it difficult when ethical organizational rules do not comply with what he/she thinks is right or ethical. He/she feels that such ethical organizational rules are but artificial standards that are less than sincere. For instance, in the organization, there are certain labor rules that promote the prevalence of contractual employees and the outsourcing of employees. A character-oriented person may believe that such is a violation of rights of workers at a shot at regular work and of their rights to security of tenure. The ethical standards of the organization differ from the ethical standards of the character-oriented person.
This may ultimately lead to a frustration that will influence the character-oriented person to leave his work and resign.
The Ethics Awareness Inventory provides for four different aspects — character, obligation, results and equity. A high score in any of the four aspects translate into the aspect to which the examinee accords the most importance in ethical decision-making. To a character-oriented person, ethics concerns universal principles that may be processed by an individual’s cognition, more than it is translated into action. What is more important is what is in the head rather than what comes out through the hands. To an obligation-oriented person, intent is the most important aspect in ethical-decision making, while to a result-oriented person, the results are more important. To an equity-oriented person, the practicality of each and every decision is what is most important.
It is important to note that all factors exist in a person, while one scores high in an aspect, this does not mean that his/her ethical perspective is not shaped by the other three aspects. A person’s ethical perspective is a combination of all four aspects — this involves a positive influence of one, a negative influence of another and neutral influence of the other two. In the writer’s instance, he/she is positively influences by character, negatively influenced by equity, and neutrally influenced by obligation and results.