With the ever increasing challenges, ethical conflicts and dilemmas that practitioners encounter in the course of their duty, there is a compelling need to make better and informed choices, decisions or judgment to resolve the same. In view of this, several ethical reasoning theories have been put forward, and an insight of this is very crucial in giving practitioners a framework and basis in making sound and rational decisions. This paper therefore seeks explore the various ethical reasoning theories and ascertain their effectiveness in resolving ethical dilemmas and conflicts.
Utilitarianism theory which was developed in 19th century by John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham seeks to explain that ethical actions are the ones which try to achieve a greater proportion of good compared to evil. In analyzing issues using this theory, various possible actions are identified then the effects of each are weighed. It is after this that the action with the least harm but highest benefits to many people, is selected. Mill in his theory argued that for something to be desirable it is because some one desires and since pleasure or happiness is the desire of everybody then it follows that happiness is the most desirable thing and thus the common good. Utilitarianism has been employed greatly when making ordinary decision in life. For instance, when choosing careers, college. Promoting or demoting employees and other judgments one has to weigh the effects of each before settling on a decision and this mode has proven to be effective. In day to day life consequences are often weighed and good ones chosen (Barbra, 2010).
Relativism theory approaches issues from the position that truth is different when viewed by two people. This implies that different points of view are equal and therefore it is the individual who determines what is right for them. According to this theory, there are no moral wrong, rights or absolutes and moral values are bound to change over time with the changes in social norms. This theory allows for flexibility by allowing people to change ethically as other aspects like knowledge, technology and culture change in the society. This theory has found many application since it gives an individual a position to make his choices and which are not under the influence of anybody. Every day people decide to do something even after being told not to do (Baghramian, 2004).
Kant’s Formalist Theory
This was a theory put forward by a German philosopher Immanuel Kant in 18th century. This theory seeks to explain moral judgments from their logical context rather than from their content. He argued that human will is the intrinsic point when making a rule or judgment and therefore human will can apply these rules to any confronting situation. From his reasoning, it is only the laws of the universe that can be moral. He uses the words ‘form’ and ‘content’ which are terms in metaphysical philosophy. Form in this case refers to the shape of something without content and so he reasons that good or right are forms. This theory therefore, concentrates on the origin of goodness and rejects morals which are actually true. The universal law therefore is the sole determinant of actions (Barbra, 2010).
According to this theory, a moral action is the one which is independent on influence and since nothing interferes will universal laws then they are absolute. This theory has not been that effective as critics have often challenged it. They challenge that adhering strictly to universal laws and principles may encourage people to be morally rigid and thus fail to reflect diverse responses that are needed in more complex but moral scenarios. Moreover, in a case where occur two or more principles conflict then there is no clear manner to decide the precedence of a rule or principle (Barbra, 2010).
Wallace’s Ethical Contextualism
This theory seeks to describe views by laying emphasis on the context an action was taken. Wallace argues that actions can only be understood depending on the circumstance of that context. The idea behind this theory is the fact that conflicts can arise between two or more ethical principles. This is argument by Wallace contradicts Kant’s theory that rest absolute reasons on universal laws. Wallace asserts that the change in learning rules and situations so does the need for different ethical measures to be undertaken that meets the demand of the challenges of the situation. This theory has been successful in cases where two principles overlap as it weighs two compelling principles and comes up with a solution that is considerate of the situation (Harding, 2010).
Theory application in area of specialization
The ethical issue under consideration revolves around whether the clinical psychologist should teach the physiological psychology class despite not being competent in that field. Should his taking up of the classes be based on the fact that several seniors will not graduate if they do not take up the course? Although he is not competent but qualified like any member of the department, the departmental chair wants him take up the course. So the question remains, should the fact that his schedule can accommodate the lesson be a determining factor?
The claimants in this aspect consist of those who are aware of the planned move to ask the psychologist to take the class and those who are not. The departmental chair is the one who stands to benefit if the psychologist takes the lesson since his roles would have been discharged. The students as well are the determining factor. Although they may not be aware of the clinical psychologist’s incompetence in that field, they want to be taught the course so as not to miss on the graduation. Lastly the institution at large is also an interested party as they would not like anything that compromises the quality of education.
Each of these different parties would be glad to see the issue handled differently. The departmental chair as well as the seniors would like to see the lesson taught while the faculty would love to see quality service offered to students. The fellow on his part is stuck between compromising the quality of teaching since he is not competent, and maintaining his loyalty to the chair who is his senior. These possibilities lead to at least three probable modes of action. The psychologist may simply take the course. This can be justified by the fact that the chair wants him take it and the fact that his schedule allows it.
Second, the clinical psychologist may defy the request of the chair and decline to take up the course. This will uphold the standards of education but may cause the chair to feel disobeyed. Lastly the psychologist may take the lesson and explain to the students as to why he is taking the course and that he is not competent in the field. Justification for this could be the fact that he is the only one whose schedule can accommodate the course. Any one of this action could please some claimants while disappointing others.
The second mode of action where the clinical psychologist disregards the chair and not takes up the course is the best thing to do. If he takes the course there is a risk that the quality of teaching might be compromise since he is not competent in that field. We now focus on the decision of the faculty member to disregard the chair’s request. This decision by the faculty member not to take the course can be evaluated using the Utilitarianism theory. This theory requires that a decision made be good to many people. Although the decision may not be good for the department chair, but in the end it would be good for everyone including him, the faculty member, the students and the institution at large.
The institution will benefit from the fact that the standard of education is not lowered while the department chair will understand that assigning courses to competent people is the only way to achieve desired results. The benefit accruing to students is the improve performance which is greater than the desire to graduate. Under this model, the decision is found to be ethical and the decision is said to be valid in this scenario only and may not be applicable for similar situations in the future.
The case considered below will involve the following three principles: Competence, confidentiality and conflict of interest. This case involves a clinical psychologist named Ken and a client name Jane who has a serious psychological problem and for a long time she has kept it as a secret and at no cost is she willing to let anybody know of her condition, not even her family members. Upon assessment Ken realizes that in order for him to best attend to this situation, they needed to consult Jane’s family members so that proper care and attention can be provided to her. However Jane does not consent to this request thus causing a conflict of interest. Upon further assessments Ken realizes that he needs to consult fellow psychologist on the matter.
The ethical issue under evaluation here revolves around whether Ken should consult his colleagues and the family. Should Ken consult Jane’s family members and his colleagues based on the reason that he was to offer best psychological attention or should he just attend her without consulting anyone? Although Jane does not consent to his request, Ken wants to consult so as to best attend to her condition. In this scenario, the claimants is Jane who does not want the condition known to her family despite the severity of the situation, Ken and other people not aware of the situation. The family members are a factor in the decision since any change of he condition majorly affects them. Ken will also be affected since this will have a reputation on the on his career. Finally, the institution deserves a say in this since proper administered attention has the effect of branding the facility in the eyes of the clients.
Ken would like to see that he gives his best to this condition. The family though not aware would love to see Jane a healthy person. The facility definitely wants to be the leading center that offers best care to patients. These scenario leads to at least three alternative courses of action.First, Ken might fail to consult the family and his fellows and go ahead to attend her. This course might be justified since that is the client’s choice although he might compromise on his competency. Ken might also disregard Jane’s opinion and go ahead to consult the family. This has the potential compromising on the confidentiality of the matter and may cause Jane to feel resentful. Third, Ken can decide to consult his colleagues and not compromise on his competence. Any of these actions fulfils the expectations of one while leaving those of others.
The third mode of action that Ken disregards Jane’s opinion and consults his colleagues appears to be the most effective and appropriate. Psychological attention is ought to be provided based on competence so as to provide the best attention. If Jane’s opinion is considered based on fear or sympathy, then the quality of care stands to be compromised. The decision to consult fellow psychologist before attending to Jane can be evaluated using the utilitarianism theory which considers whether a decision to be taken provides for the greatest good and for the greatest number of claimants.
Under this theory, the decision yielded the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The step is good for Jane since she will have the best psychological attention, Ken himself for purposes of his career, the family members who wants to see Jane a happy person. The decision is also good for the facility since proper client’s care earns them a good reputation. Therefore, under this Utilitarianism theory, the decision taken for Ken to consult his colleagues is ethical.
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