Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Making a Good Decision

Before we list the solutions we've heard and some process recommendations, we'd like to suggest a set of questions the CAC and JPA could ask themselves as they go about making a thoughtful decision. We refer you to An Approach to Ethical Decision-Making and Thinking Ethically, Appendices 3 and 4. These questions are well-grounded in ethical theories.

Specifically, for each proposed solution, we would suggest you ask:

  1. Will it lead to the best overall consequences short-term and long term? Does this alternative produce the greatest good for the greatest number, and the least harm?

  2. Does it protect the moral rights of people who will be affected? Does it safeguard their privacy? Free consent? Freedom of conscience? Freedom to choose?

  3. Will it help us be consistent in the way we treat people? Does it distribute benefits and burdens reasonably equally among the members of a group unless there's some moral reason to treat some members differently? "Need" would be one such reason.

  4. Does it allow us to accommodate everyone's interests in a reasonable manner? We are not always able to satisfy all interests, but does this help us pay attention to all the interests in some way? In other words, does it advance the common good?

  5. Finally, does this solution help those making the decision to be people of integrity, compassion, responsibility, etc.?

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