What makes ethical decision making so difficult?
(2) Why cannot ethical decisions be programmed like other decisions?
(3) What leads to dilemmas in ethical decision making?
In the coming paragraphs we shall try to answer all these questions and also try to understand basic difficulties involved in ethical decision making.
An organisation is an association of various individuals and there is a conflict of interest at the personal level between these members, each one is concerned about his benefits and neutral or opposing to the benefits or good of others. This conflict of interest leads to situations that are morally challenging to the manager who wants to be moral and righteous to his own conscience and serves the interests ofthe organisation. Here the dilemma arises on the decision upon the course of action.
In the second case a conflict arises when there is a distinction to be made about facts and values. This implies a situation where a manager confronts ‘what is’ and weighs the same against ‘what ought to be’. For example, an organisation may spend lots of resources upon developing, researching or upgrading a certain product and service, which gets reflected in the final price of the latter. This increase in price may be looked upon as exploitative by the end users.
Yet another difficulty arises in cases where there is a fine line dividing the good from the bad or the evil and in situations when there is a difference of opinion on what is morally permissible and what is not. undoubtedly, in our society the good and the evil exist side by side. For example, Nestle infant formula led to many deaths in Kenya because the formula was prepared in contaminated water. The same formula proved life saving in other countries where clean water is used. The challenge lies in mininhising the evil and trying to arrive upon a consensus.
man era of uncertainty, it is almost impossible to predict the outcomes of decision making. One of the principles of ethical decision making assumes that the outcome of a decision is known and that the decision that results in greatest good for greater number of people is the best. Practically, anticipating the exact outcome of a course of action is impossible. This uncertainty is at the root of all difficulties in ethical decision making.
Lastly, we may say that ethical standpoints of organisation and their critics are opposite and based on an entirely different set of reasons. Here the ethical arguments made to justify intentions are by and large incompatible. For example an environment protection foundation may criticize the operations of an organisation on grounds of the latter polluting the environment. The organisation may justify itself by saying that it is adding more value to the society and the individual lives, making it more comfortable through its products and services.