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Ethical Decision Making

People are faced with difficult decisions every day. It may be within personal relationships, as professionals, or parenting. Being able to determine the right decision to make isn’t always so simple, but there are decision making methods that can provide assistance in resolving an ethical dilemma.

Many ethical dilemmas can begin to be resolved with reflection and open-honest discussion with those important to the situation. For those dilemmas which are more complex, a considered framework assists in making the best decision possible at the time.

No matter how big or small the dilemma, at each stage reflection may help in working through the perceived problem. 

1.The first step is to recognise the presence of an ethical issue.

-        Considering one’s life challenges may require both values and rationality. 

-        Is there a perceived ethical dilemma because your values have been violated?

2. Gather all the information

- Do I have all the facts?

- Am I making assumptions?

- Is this my issue or someone else’s’?

3. Who are the individuals affected by the problem?

- Who is affected?

- How are they affected?

- Are there other interpersonal conflicts involved?

4. What ethical issues are involved?

- Is this a personal or professional matter?

- Would these issues impact on your reputation?

- Is this an issue for your local community?

5. What are possible courses of action?

- If this is an organisational issue, then what are the relevant policies or procedures?

- Values

- Consequences

6. Implement and monitor the chosen action


When faced with difficult life decisions, it may be worth documenting your thoughts, sitting with your values, and discuss the potential courses of action with those trusted to you.


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