If decision-making requires that we employ the basic standards of critical thinking, mainly, perception, assumptions, emotion, language skills, arguments, fallacies, logic and problem solving, then, would it be correct to assume that if we employ the standards of ethical behavior to such decision-making processes the chosen alternative to the problem may create a dilemma between critical thinking and ethical conduct? At times it may. Many issues have to be taken into consideration. Some of these ethical issues involve tradition, personal believes, family values, patriotism to one’s country, religious believes, and cultural values.
Ethical behavior is consistent with agreed principles of correct moral conduct. It is consistent because it is steady, unchanging, dependable and true to type, mainly, agreed principles. The principles, themselves, are agreed upon by a group of individuals that follow correct moral conduct. The conduct itself is correct because any other type of conduct is deemed unacceptable by those that follow this moral conduct. The conduct itself is also moral because it is righteous, upright, honest and blameless. In addition, ethical behavior is concerned with conduct because it is a way of behaving, habits and manners and presiding over situations and events.
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If these terms are so clearly defined, then why is it that various chosen alternatives with some individuals are in conflict with true happiness and a peaceful state of mind? The most likely reason for this alteration of minds lies with how incorrectly many individuals employ the standards of critical thinking in addition to having a disregard towards ethical conduct. The
greater the deviance from critical thinking and ethical conduct, the greater the altered state of mind. Contrary to this, the closer that one is to the standards of critical thinking and ethical conduct, the greater the level of inner peace with oneself in selecting a chosen alternative with decision-making. As per Dr. Chopra: “Once we understand our true nature and learn to live in harmony with natural law, a sense of well-being, good health, fulfilling relationships, energy and enthusiasm for life, and material abundance will spring forth easily and effortlessly.”
An example that discusses the impact of ethics on decision-making is the use of marijuana for medical purposes within the state of California. By analyzing this last statement word-by-word, you can safely imply that if marijuana is used for medical purposes, then its use is meant to remedy a medical condition, whether physiological or psychological. However, it does not state if its use is accepted by a group of practitioners within a network, or various networks to that matter, or by the governing Board of the American Medical Association (AMA).
If a group of practitioners approves the use of marijuana for medical purposes and the AMA disapproves of its use, then there is a clear ethical issue that is confronting this group of practitioners. Most medical practitioners abide by the Hippocratic Oath, especially its modern day version. The eight paragraph to this Oath states; “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.” If these group of practitioners can prove that the use of marijuana can prevent disease or further debilitation of the patients body, the Constitution of the State of California allows these practitioners to prescribe these types of medicaments, even though ethically they may disapprove of its use personally; maybe these practitioners do not suffer the same ailments as their patients. The AMA, which is a nationwide organization of medical practitioners, may disapprove of the use of marijuana, however, when a practitioner applies critical thinking skills onto his practice, he or she may feel that the Hippocratic Oath has not been violated, nor has the rights of neither their patients nor any state statues. This oath is taken by over 90% of medical students throughout the United States.
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The Hippocratic Oath is probably not a legal document, but is voluntarily taken by a few physicians. If a physician of a certain network violates the Oath, he would still be able to practice medicine, the only control is a careful choice of members to join their network, and however, reputation is very important in securing business. As per Tyson; “The motivation to obey the laws of etiquette is for the love of the craft and financial reasons, not the fear of punishment”. It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of medical patients are unaware of the Hippocratic Oath; the majority of patients are primarily concerned with their personal well-being and the competency of the practitioner. Medical practitioners should have a set of rules governing their professional behavior. However, since we live by a set of laws, medical practitioners should adhere to written constitutional laws, while following as much as possible a set of rules of ethics, like the Hippocratic Oath. Different interpretations may be made of the Oath, depending on whether you are concerned with the classical version or the modern version. A dilemma related to this issue arises when Federal laws do not agree with state laws. However, unless these state laws are declared unconstitutional, the system of rules of state laws prevails.
When applying critical thinking to decision-making processes, certain standards are applied. These standards are applicable to all professions, organizations, groups and/or individuals. These standards do not change from organization to organization, or from individual to individual. However, what does change are the ethics of conduct. Each profession, organization and/or group have their own specific set of rules that serve not only as guides, but also as points of reference. These set of rules are commonly known as Rules of Conduct, or Code
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of Conduct. Two prominent organizations that have established a set of Rules of Conduct are: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIA).
One of the rules within the AICPA is the following: (1) Accountability and reporting mechanisms, including proper measurement, auditing and feedback. Various rules within the CIA are the following: (a) An arbitrator has an overriding obligation to act fairly and impartially as between the parties, at all stages of the proceedings. (b) An arbitrator shall be free from bias and shall disclose any interest or relationship likely to affect his impartiality or which might reasonably create an appearance of partiality or bias. (c) An arbitrator in communicating with the parties shall avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety. There shall be no private communications between an arbitrator and any party, regarding substantive issues in the case.
Many business organizations have also established a set of Rules of Conduct for their employees. These rules create and sustain an ethical corporate culture that guides decision-making throughout the company. The implications of ethical decisions demonstrates to the public, government, regulators, employees, customers, suppliers, investors and competitors that the company’s ethics program is soundly managed and that the company is trustworthy. It also promotes high levels of individual and corporate performance and compliance. In addition, an effective ethics program educates employees and management about the company’s principles and values and helps them determine appropriate business practices and behavior. An effective, comprehensive program helps to demonstrate that the directors are diligent in exercising their duty and care.
A decision can violate the ground rules, thereby, creating an atmosphere of mistrust amongst the stakeholders. Corporate ethical failure can be very costly. It can cause negative publicity and lasting harm to the organization’s reputation. It can also cause consumer boycotts, corporate liability, personal liability of directors and officers. However, a decision can change
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the ground rules if the consequences to the decision are to the best interest of all the stakeholders. Corporate ethical rules are hard to change, however, some rules may be deemed as ineffective and outdated. Only then will the governing body of these organizations change the outdated rule in order to make its compliance more effective.