Ethics is defined as a form of moral philosophy that involves the systemization, defending and the recommendations of the concepts of right or wrong behavior. Ethics can also be used in reference to a certain standard of behavior that informs on how people should think or act in the various situations that they find themselves in whether as friends, children, citizen public servants or business people.
Criteria used in making ethical decisions
There are four different criteria that are applied in making ethical choices. These are utilitarian criteria, focus on right, focus on justice and common good approach.
Utilitarian criterion: This is where decisions are made based on their outcomes and consequences. Utilitarianism aims at bringing forth the best to the masses. This view is very dominant on the making of ethical business decision-making that are geared towards making a lot of profits.
Utilitarian criterion is motivated by the desire to enhance productivity and efficiency but pose the greater risk of ignoring individual rights. This criterion posits that any ethical action should be geared towards promoting good and that which does not harm or rather the one that produces the greatest balance of good over harm. This approach is more concerned with the consequences, and it seeks to increase the good work done and minimizes the harm done.
Focus on rights: This requires that individuals make choices or decision that are in line and consistent with their fundamental rights, privileges and liberties that are contained in the bill of rights. This emphasizes the making of decisions that aims and protects the basic human rights of all individuals.
This is consistent with the freedom and privacy. According to the focus approach, an ethical action should uphold and respect the morals of the people affected. It is motivated by the belief that human beings have dignity due to their human nature and ability to make free decisions.
Focus on justice: This criterion requires individuals to enforce and impose rules in a fair and impartial manner to ensure equity in the distribution of costs and the benefits. This is a view that is widely favored by members of the union which implies that people should be paid commensurate to the job they have done irrespective of the difference in performance. Ethical actions should treat all human beings equally based on indefensible standard.
Common good approach: This approach to ethical decision making subscribes to the opinion that life in the society is good and individual actions should contribute towards this good. Based on this approach, the basis of societal relationships is respect, ethical reasoning and compassion for all. It focuses consideration on the situations that enhances welfare of the majority. This may be practiced in the system of laws, health care, effective fire and police apartments and the educational system (1).
In the case of RCMP, the common good criteria are most applicable. This is because the philosophy of common good criteria is that human actions should contribute to the common good of the society. The fact that the officials went public on the ills that they committed was an indication that they were motivated by compassion for an ethical society and their ethical reasoning that was aimed at making the society a better environment governed by respect.
The reason why the four members of the RCMP went public to expose all the case of fraud, nepotism and misapplication was due to their desire to better the reputation of the organization while making the organization a good institution to work in. Their ethical decision was aimed at benefiting the entire society.
Whistle blowing is defined as the disclosure of information of any wrongdoing, whether perceived or real in an organization or risks to any individual or entities that are or will be affected by that action. It happens when an individual discloses information on any wrong doing or malpractice.
Reasons why whistle blowers get into trouble when they point out unquestionable practices
A whistle blower is a member of the organization who takes information from the mainstream channel or source in order to stop the organization from doing a particular malpractice. Whistle blowers have difficult choices to make and when they choose to report any wrong doing, they are exposing themselves to high risks since instead of being praised because of their courage; they are ostracized from the society, dismissed from job and also subjected to criminal sanctions (2). This is because of the following reasons.
Whistle blowers are taken to be spies and self-interested individual, and every organization would wish to have few of them. Since whistle blowing is a revelation of organization failure or management trouble, most managers would not wish to have such an employee who exposes them and that is why they fire him or her.
Whistle blowing is considered as bad news for the people whom the whistle is blown since what has been happening in obscurity is brought into the spotlight. The only remedy to control the damage is to fire the whistle blower or to discredit him in order to disguise the story (3).
1. Santa Clara University. A Framework for Thinking Ethically [Internet]. N.d. [updated n.d.; cited 2012 Feb 17]. Available from: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/framework.html
2. Transparency International. Towards greater protection of whistleblowers. [Internet]. N.d. [updated n.d.; cited 2012 Feb 17]. Available from: http://www.transparency.org/global_priorities/other_thematic_issues/towards_greater_protection_of_whistleblowers
3. Davis, M. Avoiding the tragedy of whistleblowing. [Internet]. N.d. [updated n.d.; cited 2012 Feb 17]. Available from: http://ethics.iit.edu/publication/avoidTragedyWhistle.pdf