Personal Ethical Decision-Making Approach EDLP 705 Tim Lampe 1 Introduction The purpose of this document is to develop a personal approach to ethical decision-making that can be applied in the work setting when making real decisions. To establish this approach, a preferred philosophical framework will be identified from one of the five frameworks discussed in the book Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Causing Light or Shadow, (Johnson, 2012). After the preferred philosophical framework is selected, a determination of the strengths and weaknesses of the framework will be conducted. Additionally, a brief description of a selected ethical issue that might be confronted will be addressed, analyzing it from the perspective of each of the four ethics; Justice, Critique, Care, and Profession. A decision-making model will then be chosen and a description of how it would be applied to the selected ethical issue will be made. Finally, an evaluation of the quality of the decision that was reached in the described case will be made. It will be determined if the decision is supported or not after it makes its way through the decision-making model. Preferred Ethical Framework Five ethical frameworks are discussed by Johnson (2012): Utilitarianism, Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Justice of Fairness, Communitarianism, and Altruism. In analyzing each of these frameworks and applying them to the types of decisions that are made in my work environment, utilitarianism was identified as the preferred ethical framework from which to base most decisions that I have to make. The reason for this choice is because most decisions must benefit the majority of the people visiting or participating in events at one of my facilities; otherwise known as doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. 2 In my role as Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Special Events, decisions that I make are not made for individuals per se or even geared toward a small group of people. I have to think about what implications my decisions will have on various large groups of people, consistently and universally, without causing thoughts of inequities or biases of any kind. Advantages An advantage of using the utilitarian framework for ethical decision-making is that decisions are easy to understand (Johnson, 2012, p. 155). When a decision is made and it is very clear that the intent is to have a positive impact on ‘most’ people, it is more easily accepted, making the rationale for these decisions easy to understand. This is especially true when the decision is frequently used by people with diverse backgrounds throughout the course of myriad events. A decision that is used often, and across the board, without singling out specific groups of people, adds an additional advantage to using the utilitarian framework. It becomes the way of doing business for people and they begin to accept these decisions as standard operating procedures. Other advantages of decision-making using the utilitarian framework are that we are forced to examine the outcome of our decisions and that these decisions supersede our personal interests (Johnson, 2012, p. 155). Being forced to think through a decision and anticipate the effects of the decisions we make can help eliminate backlash situations that might surface later. In addition, ethically questionable decision-making can be all but eliminated due to the positive effect that the decision has on large amounts of people. Being accused of making decision for one’s own benefit would be tough in light of the utilitarian framework. Disadvantages While there are certainly encouraging advantages for using the utilitarian framework for decision-making, there are disadvantages as well. One such disadvantage is that consequences might be 3 difficult to identify, measure, or evaluate. Even though it is an advantage to being forced to examine the outcomes of our decisions, there may be unanticipated outcomes. It is not always possible to predict all possible outcomes and surprises can and do occur. Another disadvantage is that using the utilitarian framework may result in decision makers reaching different conclusions (Johnson, 2010, p. 155). Not everyone sees things the same way and defining a solution to a problem that resonates the same way with everyone can sometimes be challenging. Regardless of the fallacies that the utilitarianism framework presents, the fact remains that the intent of any decision, whether right or wrong, was made in the best interest of the greatest number of people. There is no doubt that mistakes will be made and that there are people who will be unhappy with decisions, but decisions made using the utilitarian framework are generally ethically sound in my profession. Ethical Analysis There are many ethical issues that I can expect to confront during the course of an event in one of my facilities. When writing the policies and procedures for our facilities, for example, there were various policies that had to deal with the handling anything from money, food, things or people. Before implementation, each policy must be thoroughly thought out to be sure that there is little room left for ethical issues to arise. For example, there is a policy that states that security staff at our facilities must perform security screening procedures involving a pat-down and metal-detection at all entry points at most sporting events. As a part of this policy, there is a list of items that people are not permitted to bring into an event unless they are deemed to be essential. Essential items would be reasonably sized women’s purses containing only essential items, diaper bags only if accompanied by a small child, and certain medical 4 devices or supplies. Also, men are not permitted to carry brief cases or pocket knives and students may not carry backpacks or books. As one might imagine, trying to define ‘reasonably sized’ and ‘essential items’ can be a delicate proposition. However, similar to airport screenings, most people understand that these safety precautions are done to protect people so that they can have peace-of-mind knowing that they are safe while attending an event. These screenings are not intended to invade anyone’s personal space or rights or to single-out any person or a specific group of people, they are in place to mitigate the chance that weapons or other harmful devices might be brought into the facility. Before a policy such as this can be enforced, however, a process to ensure that policy decisions are ethically sound is an important step to take before the implementation phase. One way to ensure that a decision to perform security screenings is an ethical one is to analyze it from the perspectives of each of the four ethics; justice, critique, care, and profession (Shapiro and Gross, 2008). Justice The justice perspective goes back to the times of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, with ‘fairness’ as the basic question. It asks if a specific decision treats everyone the same or if there are signs of favoritism or discrimination. The ethic of justice focuses on how fairly or unfairly our actions distribute benefits and burdens among the members of a group (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, and Meyer, 2010, “Thinking Ethically,” para. 10). Because the decision to send everyone through the security screening process, from the perspective of justice, it appears to be justified. It is fair across the board in that it does not show any signs of favoritism, nor does it discriminate against any particular person or group. Critique The ethic of critique highlights the issues raised by the justice perspective, but instead of simply and thoughtlessly accepting a decision or policy handed down by those in positions of authority, the 5 ethic of critique urges us to be prepared to challenge decisions or policies by asking a few simple questions to better understand all power relationships. We might ask who benefits from, or is disadvantaged by, a decision or policy. We might also ask what forms of injustice could arise or what the possible consequences are that might result from that decision or policy. It would also be important to understand the ‘value’ that we are attempting to preserve by implementing the decision or policy. How these questions relate to the safety screening policy is a bit more in depth than the perspective of the ethic of justice because it asks questions from a critical point of view. Who benefits from this decision? Everyone who wants to enjoy the event in a safe environment, safe from the worries that someone in the crowd is armed with a weapon and ill-intentions. Who is being disadvantaged? Any person with intentions of causing harm or violence is disadvantaged. There is no way that the safety screening process can eliminate all threats but it certainly mitigates the likelihood that violence could erupt at one of our events. The ethic of critique also looks for forms of injustice, but because the policy covers everyone we have very few issues. There are occasional complaints from people who don’t understand why we are so vigilant, but we seem to always have a fresh news story about a school or shopping mall shooting, or some other recent act of violence involving a public assembly venue. In the world of collegiate athletics it is relatively easy to show that we value safety for our student-athletes, families, fans, and so on. The fact that we value the safety of ‘everyone’ is strengthened by our actions and it is clear that there is absolutely no personal gain by any person or group. The value of safety is acknowledged, as well as accepted, and the procedures are therefore accepted as a standard operating procedure. 6 Care The ethic of care is based on the transition from the focus on oneself to the responsibility to others and it recognizes personal relationships with others. It focuses on dignity, people’s personal concerns, and the overall humanistic approach to how we treat one another. Looking at security screening from this perspective further strengthens an already strong ethical justification for the decision to conduct the screenings. It demonstrates a genuine concern for the safety and security of every person attending the event, with no regard toward anything other than keeping fellow humans safe at a family-friendly event. Profession The ethic of profession expands beyond the first three ethics of justice, critique, and care. It asks questions from the perspective of the profession and the codes of ethics to which practitioners are to adhere. In athletics and, more specifically, facility management, safety and security screenings are indeed a standard that is used globally. The use of safety screening procedure is so widespread around the world now that one would have to wonder if there was something wrong if they walked into an event and they did not get screened. It would seem unprofessional. There are national and global conferences that specifically address safety and security procedures at large sporting events, where people receive special certifications after completing rigorous tests showing that they are competent in the area of venue safety. To not implement a screening process at one of my venues would be looked upon as incompetence and a total lack of regard for people’s safety. Decision-Making Model Before a decision is made, it is helpful to follow some set guidelines or formats designed to assist us in making better ethical decisions. Decision-making models have been designed to help leaders make 7 appropriate and ethical choices when faced with making tough decisions. Using a decision-making model provides a systematic approach that encourages leaders to define their problem, to gather important information, to apply ethical standards and values, and to identify and evaluate alternative courses of action, and to ultimately follow through on their decision (Johnson, 2012, p. 246). Johnson (2012) presents four such models: Kidder’s Ethical Checkpoints, The SAD Formula, Nash’s 12 Questions, and The Case Study Method. Even though the four ethical frameworks identified above are presented as separate approaches, combining perspectives, or ethical pluralism (Johnson, p.178), might need to be done in order to resolve an ethic issue. Either method is fine as long as a systematic approach to moral reasoning is conducted (Johnson, 2012, p. 246). For the purposes of this document and to address the example of the safety screening issue, it seems most appropriate to use the SAD Formula. This formula is designed as a simple tool to help leaders determine if decisions similar to that of safety screening is ethically sound, and to help bring order to confusing ethical issues. It can help answer the question of whether the process is providing safety or if it is infringing on people’s personal rights or liberties. The SAD Formula The SAD formula, developed by Louis Alvin Day, builds an important element of critical thinking into moral reasoning. It begins with an understanding of the subject to be evaluated; moves to identifying the issues, information, and assumptions surrounding the problem; and concludes with evaluating alternatives and reaching a conclusion (Johnson, 2012, p. 251). The subject of safety screenings. Well before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, violent acts had been occurring at sporting events around the globe for years. With upwards of a hundred thousand people stuffed into sports facilities to watch a competition and the international media bringing it into the homes and businesses not in attendance, large-scale events have become a natural 8 place for terrorists to make a statement that is sure reach a large audience, sometime on an a global scale. A couple of examples are the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany where Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian gunmen to bring the world’s attention to the Middle East, and the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, where a single person, Eric Rudolph, exploded a backpack full of explosives and shrapnel, killing a couple of people, to bring attention to the issue of anti-government, homosexuality, and abortions. There are numerous other examples as well and all have led the sports industry, as well as the public assembly facility management industry, to establish best practices to provide participants and spectators alike with a safe and secure competition venue. Issues, information, and assumptions. Because of the long and established history of violence at sporting events, combined with the terrorist events on September 11, 2001 and the incidences of violence in public schools and on college campuses around the world, many issues have been identified. There are too many issues to get into for this project but the main issue is that world has changed and schools and campuses are no longer as safe as we once thought they were. Copious amounts of information have been collected following the many number of incidences, and many assumptions have been made as the sports and public assembly management industries try to determine where the next strike could possibly take place and, more importantly, how best to prevent it from happening. Due to the unpredictability of answering that question, it has become evident that to be able to provide the safest possible environment for the event participants and attendees, security screening at all entry points would provide the best and simplest means of front-line protection against violence at these events. 9 Alternatives and reaching a decision. There are, of course, alternatives to the screening process. Some alternatives are drastic such as not allowing the public to attend competitions, limiting the number of attendees, or not allowing the media. Another option would be to not do the screening at all and to trust people. Other more reasonable alternatives might include the same level of screenings that are conducted at airports around the world, but this alternative could be viewed as intrusive violations of individual rights. These options seem either unreasonable or foolish at best. The pat-down and metal detection level screening at sporting events already garner some negative comments related to personal rights and invasion of personal space. There are law-abiding concealed weapon permit holders who have objected because they feel that our policy is an encroachment of their liberties. However, because the policy is universal and not targeting any specific person or group, it passes the ethical standards test by following the edict of utilitarianism. Decision evaluation. In evaluating the final decision related to conducting security screening, however, and to address one of the weakness of The SAD Formula, the implementation phase has some flexibility. There are different levels by which the screening process can be applied and the procedures can be loosened or tightened as necessary depending on the event. For instance, if we know that we have a high level government dignitary attending the game we will tighten the procedures and become slightly more vigilant with the weapons search. Regardless of the level, the screening process remains universal and does not attempt to singleout any person or group. It does not discriminate nor does it show favoritism toward anyone. Day’s SAD Formula is said to have borrowed the ‘moral duties and loyalties’ part of his model from theologian Ralph Potter (Johnson, 2012, p. 253). This part of the model takes into account important duties or loyalties when making critical choices; loyalty to self (individual conscience), loyalty to attendees, loyalty to vulnerable crowds, loyalty to fellow employees, loyalty to others in the same 10 profession, and loyalty to the public. In assessing the decision to conduct safety screenings at sporting events, it is clear that all of these duties and loyalties are addressed, making the decision to perform the screenings an ethical one because it truly does provide the greatest good for the greatest number. Conclusion Developing a personal approach to decision-making is essential for today’s leaders. It is the foundation from which all decisions should be made, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each ethical framework is essential to sound decision-making skills. Decision-making that incorporates preconceived experiences, emotions, and intuitions, as well as conscience reasoning (Johnson, 2012) have the chance to become better structured decisions that will keep leaders on the straight and narrow path towards ethically sound decision-making skills. Our decisions will also stand a better chance if we are asked to defend them at any time. Having guidelines or formats by which to follow help us make these critical decisions is imperative as well. Having a decision-making format encourages leaders to have a plan, to be able to properly plan and to defend their decisions. So often we “intuitively come to a rapid decision based on our emotions and cultural background” (Johnson, 2012, p. 247). This process works out most of the time but there are times when we need to slow down and run a decision through a proven decisionmaking format to be sure that our decisions are ethically sound. 11 References Johnson, C. E. (2012). Meeting the challenges of leadership; Casting light and shadow. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Shapiro, J. P., & Gross, S. J.(2008). Ethical educational leadership in turbulent times: (Re)solving moral dilemmas. New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum. Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T., Meyer, M., (2010). Thinking ethically: A framework for moral decision making. Santa Clara University: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.