Evaluating Ethical Decisions and Defining a Universal Standard of Good

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Evaluating Ethical Decisions and Defining a Universal Standard of Good

It is difficult to provide a concrete definition for the word “right.” Right can mean many different things in different situations. For example, the right answer to one plus one is two. Yet, “doing the right thing” isn’t a simple answer like the previous example. In determining the difference between right and wrong, the pursuit of making an ethical decision is born. There are many concepts of right and wrong. Despite the number of concepts of right and wrong, there is a foundation that can be used to guide ethical decision making. This foundation makes it possible to arrive at a universal standard of good or right. Ethical relativism is a barrier to developing this universal standard, but this barrier can be overcome by the determination of fundamental values. The ethical frameworks represent the many concepts of right and wrong. By applying the universal standard of good or right to the multiple concepts of right and wrong, an ethical decision will be made that is considered universally right, despite ethical relativism.

Ethical Relativism

Ethical relativism poses a barrier to determining a universal standard of good or right. DesJardins (2011) defines ethical relativism as “a view that believes all ethical judgments are relative to the person or culture that makes them” (p. 24).

Irvine’s (2000) article “Confronting Relativism” makes observations of the ethical relativism evident in business students today. He states, “America is awash in tolerance.” Ethical relativism creates tolerance and too much tolerance creates the ostrich syndrome, where the bird will stick his head in the sand instead of making a firm decision. A certain amoun...

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...l standard of good uses adopted codes of human rights and their obligations to one another. Following this universal standard of good will create a universalism in the concept of right and wrong and the barrier of ethical relativism can be torn down by the fundamental values listed in the aforementioned codes to arrive at a final, “right” ethical decision.

References

DesJardins, J. An Introduction to Business Ethics (4th Ed.) New York: McGraw Hill.

Irvine, W. B. (2000). Confronting Relativism. Academic Questions, 14(1), 42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Swidler, L. (2007). TOWARD A UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF A GLOBAL ETHIC.

Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 42(3), 337-350. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

United Nations (n.d.). “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Retrieved September 23,

2011, from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

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