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Occasionally, for some reasons people tend to act hypocritically, ignore some of responsibilities and even behave rationally or irrationally. These and many more other human behaviors or characters are some of the inevitable human traits that portray different levels of immaturity and/or moral passiveness. People may indulge in such actions to balance their day-to-day activities or personal relationships with other people. In some cases, it seems that it is the right way to behave, yet in other cases it seems wrong but people ignore the facts, either to prove a point or to express total ignorance and/or dissatisfaction. Regardless of the situation that might have prompted people to make whatever decision they make, they are not always proud of their decisions and actions. In the midst of all this, individuals also try to minimize the level of responsibilities that is taken upon themselves at the workplaces as employees, convincing themselves that they were not employed to “save the world”. Therefore, people would only do what they can and leave the rest. Even when it is obvious that such decisions or thoughts do not actually justify the actions, people tend to put their jobs and survival at the top of their priority lists.
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A bunch or moral excuses might be available as reasons for such actions, but they are unethical, thoughts and decisions that should not be entertained or allowed to thrive at workplaces. The knowledge and approach towards ethical decision-making and actions must be redefined personally, professionally and collectively if people intend to achieve qualitative service delivery and obtain productive results that are beyond the usual. Public administrators at different firms or workplaces are believed to have the necessary skills and extensive experience, required to make ethical decisions in order to properly manage and maintain an ethical work environment. In order for a public administration professional to accomplish all that is expected from him or her, he or she has to thoroughly undergo a transition, from moral passiveness to moral activeness, with regards to ethical decision-making. This is only achievable by better understanding of the enhanced unified ethics mechanism.
According to Dean and Charles (2010), enhanced unified ethic is, in fact, the application of an existing unified ethic within a given organizational context. It is obvious that in all organizations, ethical actions, and decision-making is highly influenced by executive relationships, customary practices, stakeholders, rule structures and other organizational culture factors. Implementation of enhanced unified ethics is meant to be observed in all areas and all facets of an organization. This is simply because a collective effort towards achieving enhanced unified ethics will motivate and encourage every member of the organization to take part in the continuous and gradual improvement of the organizations work ethics.
Unified ethics is made up of three core principal positions according to moral philosophy and they are namely deontology, teleology and character theory (Dean & Charles, 2010). These three key principles provide a practical knowledge of what sort of challenges are faced by public administration professionals. This in turn, makes it easy for them to ascertain how work policies and other programs affect their decision-making patterns and criteria. Sometimes the interdependence existing between principle, character and purpose is not always visible by even the professional. The elements of moral psychology are joined together, by unified ethics and are also relevant to assisting a practitioner make ethically oriented decisions.
The inherent union of the human nature can be reflected through unified ethics. It is quite possible to acknowledge the value of a deontological perspective through principles that naturally appeal to people, and the necessity for consistency. In almost the same way, the desire to be happy and to make others happy helps people to recognize the importance of teleological perspectives. The respect for excellence is stimulated, enabling people to acknowledge the value of a virtue perspective. These three elements according to Dean and Charles (2010), establishes the foundation for a moral and professional renewal and reform needed or sometimes lacking in public service. Nevertheless, in order to obtain a decent practical sense of the unified ethics, it has to be supplemented by the intense understanding of organizational and behavioral perspectives. These processes in turn help to notice or create an increasing awareness among management scholars regarding the necessity of understating the procedures and factors that help in determining an excellent ethical decision-making and behavior.
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The Combination of Historical Traditions into Unified Process
The combination of the teleological, deontological, virtue and intuitionism theories makes a unique sense that is better than when they are singularly considered. These theories help to discover the various moral consistencies and inconsistencies that apply to the different natural human approaches towards ethical decision-making.
This theory is understood or defined as an action based on one’s inner sense of perception of what is right or wrong. This theory begs the questions; “Is my conscience at ease with this action”, and “Am I pleased by this action?”
This is defined to be an action based on principles and the consistent application of such principles. It is checked with the question: “What principle is applicable in this situation”, “Can this principle be consistently applied in this situation and in other similar situations”, “Which course of action is ideal and best portrays treating people as ends in themselves”.
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According to Regis University online educational source, teleology is defined as an ethical perspective that deliberates whether an action is wrong or right solely based on the magnitude of bad or good consequences resulting from such action(s). It contends the questions: “What sort of consequences are associated with my actions”, “What lasting effects does my action inflict” and “Does my actions enhance maximum happiness”. Some scholars think that teleology is an egoistic theory.
According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2003), virtue ethics theory is defined as an action that emphasizes on the consequences of an action, as such tends to uphold moral uprightness in other to achieve good consequences, and reflect good moral examples.
Psychologists believe that when a person is said to be or viewed as behaving morally, there is always a reason or cause behind such actions and/or behaviors. The possible causes or determinants of this thought or action are related to the four components of moral psychology. They are stated as follows:
- An ethical perception and interpretation of a given situation with respect to the availability of other alternative courses of action, and the effects of those actions on the welfare of those participating in the action or those and/or those affected by the actions.
- An ethical formulation or judgment with respect to what is considered as morally right course of action, in other words, rationally thinking towards concluding on an ethically right actions.
- Determining and selecting what should be regarded as moral values and actions.
- Application of the selected moral course of action; which involves the behavioral process of gradually adapting to doing what is considered as morally right.
Aside all other factors that constantly affect ethical decision-making, one of the most influential are those that occur at the organizational levels. These may be the structure or choice of punishment, appreciation methods or rewards assigned or associated with an ethical and/or unethical behavior(s) or decision-making. It has been observed that more ethical behavior is noticed in organizations where unethical behaviors are punished or strictly regarded as unacceptable. However, some other significant factors that may affect ethical decision-making could also be the codes of conduct and policies of an organization, work peer influence and the level of management executive’s commitment. These three factors highly contribute to whether an unethical behavior will be punished or dismissed. If punished, there is a possible result that such unethical actions would or could be avoided in the future; thus, gradually attaining an ethical work behavior in the organization. If not punished or rather dismissed, the unethical actions could be repeated in future, whereby encouraging unethical practices in the organization.
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Advantages of Enhanced Unified Ethics
Enhanced unified ethics offers a vast range of advantages public administrators in so many ways, some of which are stated below:
- It helps to adjust and redefine administrative behavioral ethics, by creating a more reliable and comforting work environment and atmosphere for reaching relatively high managerial performance and productivity.
- It also helps to clarify possible value conflicts and serves as a basis for better reasoning and choice justification that results in compromise, cooperation, and consistent ethical behaviors.
- It gradually reduces moral stress, by providing an outlet for ethical choices and decisions.
- It helps in the provision of a functional behavioral approach and organizational work standards for ethical decision-making.
- It helps to properly navigate through the technicality of choosing, during a right versus right opinion conflict.
- It helps in the better understanding of what the implications of unethical decisions are, and the potential harm that goes along with it.
Ethical decision-making is obviously one of the core responsibilities of public administrators and public administration as a profession. Therefore, it is necessary that professionals and practitioners in this field approach ethical decision making as a vital part of their job in order to achieve a consistent and ethical work environment. The decisions made by public administrators on a daily basis affect lives, families, work process and relationships. Therefore, as difficult as it may sometimes seem to adhere to the basic principles of enhanced unified ethics, these principles must be observed and gradually implemented. By so doing, the ability to explore and enjoy the advantages of enhanced unified ethics could be attained.