1. RECOGNIZE AN ETHICAL DECISION: Ask questions like “could this decision or situation be damaging to someone or to some group? Does this decision involve a choice between a good and bad alternative, or perhaps between two “goods” or between two “bads”? Is it more about what is legal or what is most efficient, and how?
2. GET THE FACTS: What are the relevant facts of the case? What facts are NOT known? What can you learn more about and do you know enough to make a decision? What individuals and groups have an important stake in the outcome? Are some concerns are more important? Why? What are the options for acting? Have all the relevant persons and groups been consulted? Have I identified creative options?
3. EVALUATE ALTERNATIVE ACTIONS:
- Which options best respect the rights of all who have a stake? (The Rights Approach)
- Which Which option treats people equally or proportionately? (The Justice Approach)
- Which option best serves the community as a whole, not just some members? (The Common Good Approach)
- Which option leads me to act as the sort of person I want to be? (The Virtue Approach)
- Which option will produce the most good and do the least harm? (The Utilitarian Approach)
4. MAKE A DECISION AND TEST IT: Considering all these approaches, which option best addresses the situation? If I told someone whom I respect–or told a television audience–which option I have chosen, what would they say?
5. ACT AND REFLECT: How can my decision be implemented with the greatest care and attention to the concerns of all stakeholders? How did my decision turn out and what have I learned from this specific situation?
*Source: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics