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Ethical Motive

Ethical Motive

Motives are a key consideration in ethical decision making. This assignment challenges you to apply the
author’s four-step process as a tool to determine your motives.
Applying this knowledge is a good first step toward building the skills necessary to complete this same
type of process when analyzing your motives at work or your organization’s motives in ethical decision
making, designing social responsibility programs, and formulating organizational policy.
The author offers a four-step approach to analyzing your ethical motives. In this assignment, prepare
answers to the four steps outlined.
Step 1: Describe an ethical dilemma that you recently experienced. Be detailed: What was the situation?
Who did it involve? Why? What happened? What did you do? What did you not do? Describe your
reasoning process in taking or not taking action. What did others do to you? What was the result?
Step 2: Read the descriptions of relativism, utilitarianism, universalism, rights, justice, and moral decision
making. Explain which principles best describes your reasoning and your action(s) in the dilemma you
presented in Step 1.
Step 3: Were you conscious that you were reasoning and acting on these (or other) ethical principles
before, during, and after your ethical dilemma? Explain.
Step 4: Would you have acted differently in your dilemma than you did? Explain.


Ethical Motive

Step 1: An ethical situation that I faced was when working on a part-time basis as a sales person
in a certain firm dealing in beauty products. I discovered that the beauty products I was selling
contained a chemical substance that was harmful to the skin of the users. Though the company
and all the employees in the company were aware of the fact that the products were harmful,
there was a code of silence so that nobody was expected to inform the clients about the
consequences of using the products. Therefore, I did not also tell the clients about the harmful
chemicals in the products. My reasoning was in line with the code of silence within the
organization that made employees reluctant to tell clients the truth. As a result, the company
continued to sell the harmful products to the clients.
Step 2: The principle that best describes my reasoning and actions in the dilemma presented in
Step 1 is ethical relativism which holds that there is no universal standard or rule that can be used
in guiding or evaluating the morality of an act. According to relativism, people set their own
moral standards for judging their actions. In this regard, I acted in line with my own moral
standards which were guided by the code of silence in the institution. I also acted on the principle
of utilitarianism in the context of maximum benefits for the maximum number within the
organization. I felt that telling the clients the truth about the chemicals in the products would put
the clients off and the organization would not make the desired benefits and the employees
would be less paid and they would not be happy with my actions.
Step 3: I was conscious that I was reasoning and acting on these ethical principles during the
ethical dilemma. I wanted to make a decision that would not hurt the company and my fellow
employees; therefore I felt that concealing the truth from clients to attract more sales was for the
good of the organization.

Step 4: I would have acted differently in the dilemma than I did because I could have broken
from dependency to become independent in my decisions and make the right moral judgment as
to balancing between the responsibility of the institution and the rights of clients to be sold safe
products. I could have appreciated the principle of interpersonal leadership that involves building
relationships through cooperation, based on a sense of integrity and moral maturity (Weiss,



Weiss, J. (2008). Business ethics: a stakeholder and issues management approach. Cengage

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