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Framework for Moral Decision-making. Naval War College Theater Security Decision-Making Dr. Coty Keller. Challenge. Ethical behavior is a hallmark of the national security professional The difficulty is if often in the choice

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framework for moral decision making

Framework for Moral Decision-making

Naval War College

Theater Security Decision-Making

Dr. Coty Keller

  • Ethical behavior is a hallmark of the national security professional
  • The difficulty is if often in the choice
  • Moral dilemmas are sometimes complex, making it hard to determine the “right” thing to do
  • Here is a framework* to help you decide

* Framework created by Velasquez, Shanks and Meyer. “Thinking Ethically,” Issues in Ethics 1996

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

framework for moral decisions
Framework for Moral Decisions
  • This method does not provide automatic solutions
  • Helps identify important ethical considerations
  • Helps us deliberate moral issues ourselves, paying close attention to
    • The facts
    • Ethical considerations
  • Value
    • A guide for your personal ethical decision-making
    • Develop the moral thinking and behavior of subordinates and peers

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

steps in the decision process
Steps in the Decision Process
  • Get the facts
  • Apply 5 approaches
    • Utilitarian
    • Rights
    • Fairness
    • Common-good
    • Virtue
  • Decide after asking yourself 5 questions

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

utilitarian approach
Utilitarian Approach
  • Jeremy Bentham & John Stuart Mill, 19th century, establishing moral laws
  • Ethical actions are those that have the greatest balance of good over evil
  • Identify possible courses of action
  • Ask:
    • Who will be affected by each action?
    • What benefits/harm is derived from each?
  • Choose action that produces the greatest benefits and least harm
  • Ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

the rights approach
The Rights Approach
  • Emmanuel Kant, 18th century philosopher
  • People have dignity based on ability & right to choose freely
  • Other rights: to truth, privacy, not to be injured, to what is agreed
  • Actions are wrong to the extent that they violate the rights of individuals
  • The more serious the violation, the more wrongful the action

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

the fairness or justice approach
The Fairness or Justice Approach
  • Greek philosopher Aristotle: “equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally”
  • Issue- is an action fair; or does it show favoritism (benefits to some without reason for singling them out) and discrimination (burdens people who are no different from those who are not burdened)?
  • Favoritism and discrimination are unjust and wrong

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

the common good approach
The Common-Good Approach
  • Vision of society as community whose members are joined by shared values and goals
  • Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and contemporary ethicist John Rawls urge us to view ourselves as members of same community
  • Challenge: recognize and further goals we share in common

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

virtue approach
Virtue Approach
  • Assumes certain ideas towards which we should strive – i.e. honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, prudence
  • Once acquired, virtues become characteristic of a person- and a person who has developed virtues will tend to act in a way consistent with moral principles
  • To decide ethical problems, one asks “what kind of person should I be?”

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller

evaluate your choices
Evaluate your Choices

Ask yourself 5 questions:

  • What benefits and harms will each course of action (COA) produce, and which choice will lead to the best overall consequences?
  • What moral rights do the affected parties have, and what COA best respects those rights? As Kant said, “can I honestly wish that everyone will do what I am about to do”
  • Which COA treats everyone the same, except when there is a morally justifiable reason not to, and does not show favoritism or discrimination?
  • Which COA advances the common good?
  • Which COA develops moral virtues?

Then Decide

NWC/TSDM Dr. Coty Keller