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Enhanced Unified Ethics
Occasionally, for some reasons, people tend to act hypocritically, ignore some of their responsibilities, and even behave rationally or irrationally. Such behaviors or characters are some of the inevitable human traits that portray different levels of immaturity and/or moral passiveness. Individuals may indulge in such actions to balance their day-to-day activities or personal relationships with other people. In some cases, people may behave in a wrong way; however, they ignore the facts to prove a point or to express total ignorance and dissatisfaction. Regardless of the situation that might have prompted people to make the decision, they are not always proud of their decisions and actions. In the midst of all this, individuals also seek to minimize the level of responsibilities taken upon themselves at their workplaces as employees, convincing that they were not employed to “save the world.” Therefore, they would only do what they can and leave the rest. Even when it is obvious that such decisions or thoughts do not really justify their actions, some people tend to put their jobs and survival at the top of their priority lists.
According to O'Leary (2014), guerrilla methods utilized by dissatisfied public servants to address perceived wrongs and to influence their organization policies can range from putting a work order at the bottom of “the desk drawer and forgetting about it to slipping information to a legislative staff person to outright insubordination.” The task determining the ethical merits of such guerrilla tactics are not always obvious. Defending the public interest may mean violating established norms and policies. This paper will explore enhanced unified ethical perspective of decision-making for guidance in the analysis of guerrilla government examples featured in Managing Guerilla Government (O'Leary, 2014).
A bunch or moral excuses might be available as reasons for such an activity; however, they remain unethical actions, thoughts, and decisions that should not be entertained or allowed to thrive at workplaces. In the Claude Ferguson case, Girton, the HNF supervisor, had made a hastily and unethical decision in a reactive manner towards the sentiments and pressure he was noticing from those who supported the use of public lands for ORV (O'Leary, 2014). From an ethical point of view, Girton made a decision to inform the general public present at the discussions hearing that some portions of the forest's land would be allocated to off-road vehicle usage. He did not consult the opinion of his colleagues, knowing that the outcome of written votes showed that those against the re-opening of forest land usage for ORV purposes outnumbered those in support by a ratio of twenty to one (O'Leary, 2014).
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The knowledge and approach towards ethical decision-making and actions should be redefined personally, professionally, and collectively if employees and employers 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 for the proper management and maintenance of an ethical work environment. In order for public administration professional to accomplish all expected, he or she should thoroughly undergo a transition from moral passiveness to moral activeness with regards to ethical decision-making. This is only achievable by better understanding the mechanism of the enhanced unified ethics.
According to Dean and Charles (2010), enhanced unified ethics 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 are 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 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 work ethics.
Unified ethics include three core principal positions according to the moral philosophy, namely, deontology, teleology, and character theory (Dean and Charles, 2010). The key principles provide a practical knowledge of the sort of challenges faced by public administration professionals. This, in turn, makes it easy for them to ascertain the way work policies and other programs affect their decision-making patterns and criteria. The interdependence existing between principle, character, and purpose is not always visible by even a professional. The elements of moral psychology are joined together by unified ethics and are also relevant to assisting a practitioner in ethically oriented decisions.
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The inherent union of the human nature can be reflected through unified ethics. It is quite possible for humans to acknowledge the value of a deontological perspective through the principles that naturally appeal to everyone and the necessity for consistency. Similarly, the desire to be happy and to make others happy helps one recognize the importance of teleological perspectives. The respect for excellence is stimulated, enabling concerned individuals to acknowledge the value of a virtue perspective. These elements according to Dean and& Charles (2010) establish the foundation for a moral professional renewal reform lacking in public service. Nevertheless, in order to obtain a decent practical sense of the unified ethics, it should be supplemented by the intense understanding of organizational and behavioral perspectives. These processes help to notice or create an increasing awareness among management scholars regarding the necessity of understating the procedures and factors to determine an excellent ethical decision-making and behavior.
The Combination of Historical Traditions into Unified Process
The combination of the teleological, deontological, virtue, and intuitionism theories makes a unique sense that is more effective than when they are singularly considered. The theories help to discover the various moral consistencies and inconsistencies that apply to the different natural human approaches towards ethical decision-making.
The theory is defined as an action based on one’s inner sense of perception of what is right or wrong. It begs the following questions: “Is my conscience at ease with this action” and “Am I pleased with this action?”
This is an action based on principles and their consistent application. It is checked with the questions: “What principle is applicable in this situation,” “Can this principle be consistently applied in this situation and in other similar situations,” and “Which course of action is ideal and best portrays treating people as ends in themselves?”
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According to Regis University, an 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 state that teleology is an egoistic theory. A typical example of this aspect of unified ethics was exhibited by State Senator, Earl Wilson, from the "Government guerilla story." Senator Wilson read about the off-road vehicle trails issues, he was also aware of it from different sources. He did nothing about the case until he arrived home one day to find motorcyclists riding through and all over his landed property without his permission. Before he realized it was a benefit to him, he had paid less or no attention to the case. A couple of months after the incident that occurred on his property, President Nixon issued an order titled "Use of Off-Road Vehicles on Public Land." According to the order, the use of off-road vehicles on public land should be closely monitored and controlled in order to preserve the safety of all users and benefits of such lands. It is possible that Senator Wilson had influence on President Nixon.
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According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Hursthouse, 2003), virtue ethics theory emphasizes on the consequences of an action, hence upholding moral uprightness in other to achieve good consequences and reflect good moral examples. Despite the fact that Ferguson seems to be the moral hero in the case, one might criticize his actions. The reason is an affidavit to a court to request a restraining order and to halt all ORV activities on the forest reservations under his watch and in the state of Indiana (O'Leary, 2014). However, Girton, his superior, had another purpose; thus, his affidavit was a contradiction to his superior's intentions and decisions.
Psychologists believe that when a person is said to be or viewed as behaving morally, there is always a reason behind such actions and/or behaviors. The possible causes or determinants of this action are related to the four components of moral psychology. They are 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 the actions on the welfare of those participating in the action or those affected by the actions.
- An ethical formulation or judgment with respect to what is considered to be a morally right course of action, namely, 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.
In addition to other factors that constantly affect ethical decision-making, 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, and those associated with an ethical and/or unethical behavior(s) or decision-making. It has been observed that ethical behavior is more noticeable 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 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 hence 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 concerning public administrators in many ways, some of which are stated below:
- It helps to adjust and redefine administrative behavioral ethics creating 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 the implications of unethical decisions and the possible potential harm that goes along with it.
A good consideration of the advantages aforementioned provides a clear insight on the way the lack of unified work ethics between Ferguson, some of his colleagues, the politicians, the general public, and those concerned made it very difficult for the Forest preservation authorities to reach a unified decision. Ferguson had to resolve into taking matters personally due to his dissatisfaction with the decision of those he expected to make the right and ethical decisions (O'Leary, 2014). Ethical decision-making is obviously one of the core responsibilities of public administrators and public administration as a profession.
In conclusion, Claude Ferguson made it his personal priority to maintain good work ethics by further trying to get those concerned to make the necessary changes. His colleagues might have done things differently if he did not raise the stakes and stood his grounds in the matters arising with protecting the forest for wildlife conservation (O'Leary, 2014). Therefore, it is necessary for professionals and practitioners in any field to approach ethical decision making as a vital part of their job in order to achieve a consistent and ethical work environment. Although Ferguson’s “heroic/ rebellious actions brought about some of the changes he hoped and strived for, his actions portrayed good work ethics but did not exemplify all aspects of enhanced unified work ethics. He further displayed an increasingly neglect of the opinions of all concerned, and at that point, he was no longer consistent with ethical practices but with personal convictions and opinions as claimed by his colleagues” (O'Leary, 2014). Claude Ferguson was later celebrated and appreciated for all his efforts toward having the necessary actions against the detrimental activities of off-road vehicle trails at the forest reservations where he worked in Indiana. Also against the unhealthy and unethical decisions of his superiors toward the issue. The decisions made by public administrators on a daily basis affect lives, families, work processes, and relationships. Therefore, despite the difficulties in adhering to the basic principles of enhanced unified ethics, the latter should be observed and gradually implemented. Consequently, the ability to explore and enjoy the advantages of enhanced unified ethics could be attained.