Ethical Decision-Making

Institution affiliation:

Ethical decision-making

The work place has become a multicultural and complex place wherepeople face a number of situations, which touch on ethics and ethicalconduct, calling on them to make the right decisions that do notcontravene their morals as well as the set company’s principles(Robinson &amp Reeser, 2002). The ethical theory is the foundationfor ethical solutions to such situations, and over a number of years,philosophers have developed theoretical ways of distinguishingbetween what is wrong and what is right (Lee, 2002). This paper looksat the case of Jill Jones, an employee of a mid-sized family ownedcompany who is faced with such a situation, and attempts to give thebest solution following a review of a number of ethical theories.

Theethical dilemma faced

Jill Jones is faced with the dilemma of deciding what to tell thecompany’s head, Mr. William Potter, regarding the consideration toappoint his son as the CEO of the company. Mr. Potter trusts Jill,given that she has a good record of accomplishment with the company,and the fact that she has been instrumental in hiring the bestworkforce for the company. As such, Jill feels that she owes Mr.Potter and would do nothing short of giving the best advice regardingHenry.

However,Jill and Henry have had a rough past, which apparently no one in thecompany is aware of, which develops into an ethical dilemma for Jillsince refusing to recommend a person for an apparent altercation thatdoes not touch on company’s issues without explaining may not bethe best course. Henry had unsuccessfully proposed to her and afterdenial, made her life at work miserable. Regardless, Jill feels thatHenry is fit for the position, given that he had done a great job atthe company’s Miami branch. Despite this, Jill wants to protectherself from Henry thus, she cannot comfortably advise Mr. Potter togive Henry the job. She now has to make the right decision, whetherto recommend Henry or not to recommend him. The biggest dilemma iswhether to put the company’s interest first or to protect herselffrom Henry. On the other hand, refusing to recommend Henry may seemthe best thing to do since it may protect other employees who mayfall into such a trap like her. Sexual harassment in the workplacedoes not operate in a vacuum and people guilty of it may have thedetermination to harass other employees.

Identificationand explanation of 3 theories to use

In this case, the three theories applicable are the virtue ethics,utilitarianism and care ethics. The virtue ethics holds that aperson’s character is the most important of all things (Oakley &ampCocking, 2001). This theory states that living an ethical lifecharacterized by right actions needs one to develop and show courage,wisdom and temperance for others. Jill can use the virtue ethicstheory by showing courage in refusing to recommend Henry despitebeing the son of her boss. In addition, the decision she takesespecially if she decides to refuse the appointment of Henry willhelp to show her restraint on some issues. On the other hand, theutilitarianism theory states that the level of happiness andsuffering that is caused by the actions of others is the mostimportant thing (West, 2004). This means that if one is to beconsidered to be act rightly, he or she must maximize the amount ofhappiness and minimize suffering around themselves. In this regards,Jill should refuse to recommend Henry as a way of maximizing herhappiness and lessening the suffering of people around her as well asother employees considering Henry may continue with his sexualharassment actions once he comes aboard. Lastly, the care ethicstheory emphasizes ethical attention on relationships (Held, 2006).This means that right actions are qualified by building andprotection of strong relationships amongst people. Therefore, forcare ethicists focus on relationships as the fundamental element ofethical thinking and decision-making. As such, Jill should evaluatethe relationship she has with her boss before deciding to recommendHenry.

Applicationof the theories to the dilemma

Virtue ethics theory is applied to guide and defend Jill’sdisapproval of Henry. When he proposed to Jill, he had to realizethat acceptance was purely her decision and that he had to respecther decision irrespective of his status or emotions. However, hedemonstrated lack of character by going ahead to make her lifemiserable because he rejected her. According to Dadlez (2009), virtueethics denounce jealousy, which is evident tin Henry’s character.In addition, the virtue ethics theory maintains that one must showwisdom, temperance, and courage when dealing with decisions thus,Jill should refuse to recommend Henry based on his lack of characteras well as a way of demonstrating her wisdom. The utilitarianismtheory of ethics holds that Jill has to put her happiness beforeanything else, and that a person who is causing her suffering shouldnot be treated otherwise. The theory suggests that one can break someof the traditional moral rules in order to achieve happiness. Giventhe behavior and attitude of Henry towards her, the right thing forher to do would be to avoid him by not advising Henry’s father toappoint him as the C.E.O. In addition, the theory maintains that thebest decision should consider the contentment and lessening ofanguish of people around. Lastly, the care ethics’ principles wouldmean that Jill has to build up a relationship with Henry, strengthenand maintain it. This would reflect right actions as per the theory,and to build a relationship that would benefit both Jill and Henry aswell as the entire company.

Bestsolution and justification

The best solution is for Jill to go with the virtue ethics’principles. In order to make the right decisions, she has to considerHenry’s character. Henry has before proven that regardless of hiseffectiveness at work, he has a bad character, riddled by jealousyand selfishness, which go against the virtue ethics. Bringing himback to the branch would mean that he would continue hurting Jill,and this would not be suitable for development. Given that she kepther suffering secret, it would be impossible to tell how many otheremployees Henry had hurt. Therefore, Jill has to advise the fatheragainst the move, and this would be considered ethically correct.


Jill’s case is one of the situations that many employees face atwork. In order to uphold morals and character, Jill has to consider anumber of approaches to the ethical dilemma. Despite the fact thatHenry is a productive employee, the wellbeing of other employees hasto be taken into consideration too. This paper has reviewed threeethical theories that can be applied to solve Jill’s dilemma, andthe virtue ethics theory has been proposed as the guiding principlefor making the right decision.


Held, V. (2006). The ethics of care: Personal, political andglobal. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

West, H.R. (2004). An introduction to Mill’s utilitarian ethics.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Oakley, J. &amp Cocking, Dean. (2001). Virtue ethics andprofessional roles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Robinson, W. &amp Reeser, L.C. (2002). Ethical decision making insocial work. New York, NY: Allyn &amp Bacon.

Dadlez, E.M. (2009). Mirrors to one another: Emotion and value inJane Austen and David Hume. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &amp Sons.

Lee, D.E. (2002). Navigating right and wrong Ethical decisionmaking in a pluralistic age. Oxford, UK: Rowman &ampLittlefield.

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