10 Sep 2022


How to Make a Moral Decision

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According to Bernstein, (2014) ethical decision making is a process that involves choosing and evaluation of the available alternatives in a way that is consistency with ethical principles. Making ethical decisions requires strong commitment and desire to do what is right regardless of the cost, consciousness and competency where one displays his or her capabilities to collect and evaluate information as well as the development of alternatives and predict potential risks and consequences. Good decisions are ethical. They always generate and demonstrate respect, fairness and responsibility. A decision can only be referred to be effective if it accomplishes the sole purpose they are intended to accomplish and also when they help in advancing our purposes.

Normative ethics deals with investigating the set of questions that would arise when one thinks on how to deal with an issue or morally speaking. Funder, (2015) suggests that traditional moral theories are based on the fact whether something is right or wrong. Normative ethics, therefore, deals much with practical tasks which therefore leads to making a conclusion on whether something is right or wrong.

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One of the traditional theories is teleology which is covered in Aristotle (384-322 BC) writings. It is derived from a Greek word ‘telos' which means goal or end. It provides a two-level approach to determine the right course of action. It starts by defining what needs to be achieved at the end, or the result expected, and the next level is to figure out how to arrive at that result. According to this theory, the wrongness of an action taken is entirely based on the nature of the final results, whether they are good or bad. An example of teleological theories is egoism and utilitarianism.

Another traditional theory of normative ethics to the particular decision is deontology. This theory way elaborated by a German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). According to his argument, he explained that decisions or choices should be based on universally applied moral principles. He urges that, for one to determine how correct a decision is, one should ask the question ‘why' and discover the implied moral principle. After one has accepted the moral principle, then he should continue to obey and practice them always. The negative side of this theory is that it does not show concern for the consequences of the actions.

Utilitarianism is another tradition theory of normative ethics. According to John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), the correctness of a decision should be based on judged by the consequences. The theory argues that an action is correct if it produces the greatest good for greatest number of people. One of the major drawbacks of this theory is that one original definition of good may differ significantly from that of another person (Nussbaum, 2013). The other problem that is associated with this theory is the lack of a way to identify all the consequences of a given action. Although the theory has two major concerns, this theoretical approach can present an individual with the motivation to examine the true consequences of actions to be considered.

Virtual ethics is a modern day theory that gives ethics a different approach because it emphasizes that an individual character is the key element of ethical thinking. This theory has therefore been criticized for lack of straight way of establishing the nature of virtues. It is due to the existence of diverse peoples' culture and societies with different opinions on what constitutes a virtue. Many philosophers argue that any character trait regarded as a virtual should be anniversary regarded as a virtue for all people in all times.

Virtue ethics also lacks action-guiding parameters. It does not explain which actions are morally permitted and which ones is not (Bernstein, 2014). It makes this theory to be regarded as useless when one looks at it from the universal norm of acceptable conduct.

A good number of people have regarded the virtue ethics as self-centered. Its primary concern is personal character whereas the morality is about other people. Any theory of ethics should insist on us to consider others and how our decisions affect other people.

One advantage of virtue theory is that it motives us to put more efforts in improving our morality. It makes it different from others that only insist on what to be done when one is in an ethical dilemma (Nussbaum, 2013). The other advantage is that virtue theory is mapped on to moral reasoning. It is also good to be partial. It acknowledges that we are naturally inclined to make biased decisions. It also focuses on the best ways of building others into better people.

The other ethical theory is Kant's Ethics theory. According to these theories, every person is morally obligated to act within the set rules and principles. Also, without consider the outcome of their actions. An example of this theory is the divine commandments set under religious laws. One of its advantages is that it is straightforward. It makes it accessible to everyone. The other merit of Kant's Ethics is that it makes duty part of human experience (Nussbaum, 2013). The morality according to this theory depends on motives, consequences or religious laws. It provides everyone with rules and commands people to respect human life. It also elaborates that morality is doing once jobs and how to control the feelings. Its main aim is to treat everyone fairly and justly so corrects utilitarian idea that a section of people can suffer as long as the larger population is happy.

Some of the downsides of Kant's theory is that it is abstract and not always easily applicable. It specifies the right actions, but it does not guide us on the right thing to do in particular situation. Universality principle is used to justify practically anything as put by Alasdair Macintyre. Also, Kant does not elaborate whether his ethics are deontological or teleological. Some of the philosophers also think that placing duty before feelings are more inhuman since there is no place for love and personal relations which are basic to humans (Youssef, et al. 2012). The theory also dwells much on insisting that we should respect others and that other people should not be used as a means to an end but it does not advise us on what to do in individual cases.

Most of the contemporary ethics issues today include hate speech on social media, special abortion cases, use of nuclear weapons, allowing guns at homes, polygamy legalization, children beauty contests, homosexuality among others. It is the state of how evil these acts depend on the society set up, and it varies from one society to another. According to my view, those issues that can lead to mass destruction of nuclear weapons and holding of guns by individuals in their homes should be controlled by the government for the good of the majority. Others like homosexuality and pornography should be dealt with in a manner that suits a specific group or society and because different groups of people have different views on different issues and the will of the majority should be given privilege.

Ethical principles are mainly used to deal with the situation of ‘what shall I do?' In most cases, when one is confronted by ethical dilemma (Youssef, et al. 2012). The main part of virtue ethics deals with question ‘who shall I be?' Moral exposure involves setting out written rules that govern a certain profession. Some of the professions deny an individual personal freedom. For example, a medical practitioner has a right to associate and express him or herself freely, but there is a code of ethics that prevents him or her from sharing this patient's state of health with other people. Moral discourse creates a guideline on what one can do as a person and what he cannot do because of his profession. It helps in maintaining the sanity of every profession. The moral stand of a person compromises when one confronts a situation in which contemplated choice or action. As a result, it puts at risk values and ethical principles with which an individual identify him. Moral compromise undermines personal integrity. One requires a strong commitment to a thoughtful process on how he or she makes critical decisions.


Bernstein, J. M. (2014). Recovering ethical life: Jurgen Habermas and the future of critical theory. Routledge.

Funder, D. C. (2015). The Personality Puzzle: Seventh International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company.

Nussbaum, M. C. (2013). The therapy of desire: Theory and practice in Hellenistic ethics. Princeton University Press.

Youssef, F. F., Dookeeram, K., Basdeo, V., Francis, E., Doman, M., Mamed, D., ... & Legall, G. (2012). Stress alters personal moral decision making. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(4), 491-498.

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