Due to the fact that this perspective emphasizes a balance of pleasure over pain, it can approve actions which are commonly considered immoral.
The Perspective of Self-Interest:
The Self-Interest perspective requires the exclusive reflection on the long-term consequences of an action to oneself. According to this perspective, an action is considered right or essential if it maximizes the person's happiness. However, the pursuit of self-interest does not exclude an individual from performing actions which benefit others. It's logical for someone to act in the interest of others provided that what he/she does will also bring happiness to him/her. It must be noted that this perspective does not encourage the performance of selfish actions. As opposed to the self-interest perspective, selfish actions usually encourage the pursuit of self-interest at the expense of others.
The Principled Perspective:
While both the benefit and self-interest perspectives judge rightfulness of an action by its ability to create positive consequences to one or more persons, the principled perspective deems an action right only if it can be understood as an action to be practiced freely by everyone. When using this perspective, the first step is usually to describe the action under consideration. This consideration captures the circumstances of the action and what an individual intends to do.
As opposed to both the benefit and self-interest perspectives, the principled perspective judges an action right or wrong not by the pleasure or pain it generates but by its reasonableness and consistency. If a course of action is responsible for an individual to carry out, it is therefore responsible for everyone else to perform it in the same circumstances. Though it offers a process for determining which actions are right and wrong, reflection by principle does not offer a means of determining obligations when one must choose between two mutually exclusive actions or obligations. The principles of pure reason do not include all of the dynamics of moral thinking (Haien, 2002).
Decision-making Processes in Ethical Integrity:
In preservation of moral integrity a person's personal choice of actions is required to conform to all sound reasons and logical principles that people often use to judge behavior. There are several decision-making processes that exist in deciding a moral issue. Each of these processes, which are connected to the rules of integrity includes:
Application of the Three Perspectives:
This is the first step in the decision-making process in ethical integrity. The above mentioned three perspectives are for the purposes of providing us with means of making distinctions between our actions. The generalization used by each perspective in deciding right and wrong must be the innermost consideration for decision. Moreover, the occasional discomfort at what one of the perspectives deems right holds a clue to the inevitability of using all three perspectives together. The combination of the three perspectives captures the complete moral reasoning. The application of one perspective overlooks the other perspectives which would uncover more options, information and direct attention to the whole pallet of judgments. The application of these three perspectives also helps a person to choose the best decision possible.
Resist Rationalization and Irresponsibility:
The second step in the decision-making process in ethical integrity involves resisting rationalization and irresponsibility. Occasionally, an irresponsible decision is not usually a matter of oversight but instead very deliberate and made in bad faith. When this happens, an individual has usually decided what to do in advance of using any moral decision model. The uses of rationalizations always distract one from the obligation to choose wisely. The most potent rationalizations are: everyone does it, they don't understand, it's not my problem e.t.c.
On the contrary, the application of the three perspectives enables an individual to resist rationalizations. This is because the perspectives forces one to question whether the rationalizations or excuses totally reflect the way in which people will judge his/her motivations and the extent of his/her obligations.
Asserting the Moral Perspectives:
This is the third step in the decision-making process in ethical integrity and is very important when an individual is confronted with the irresponsible moral decisions of others or when others attempt to influence the individual into immoral actions. In such instances, the three moral perspectives serve as the powerful tools and reminders to influence reconsideration, defend moral position and refute the demands of unethical behavior.
Attention to Critical Facts:
The three moral perspectives provide a structure which allows people to more confidently discover their obligations even in circumstances which require timely decisions on minimal information. The absence of such a structure for organizing our thoughts is likely to cause a situation where people are overwhelmed by the enormity of a moral decision. The reasoning techniques of the three perspectives provide guidance for people to understand when to act, what information to act upon, how to preserve the need for ethical reflection and how to justify decisions.
In conclusion, the three moral perspectives serve as both the practical obligations in ethical integrity as well as the tools which shape the decision-making processes in ethical integrity. As mentioned, moral integrity is basically based on a person's internal convictions, the unstated norms within an organization or society and what the society considers as right or wrong behavior.
Gert B. (2008, February 11). The Definition of Morality. Retrieved April 12, 2010, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/
Haien JA. (2002, March 5-10). Maintaining Ethical Integrity -- the Rules of Engagement.
Retrieved April 12, 2010, from http://www.accts.org/ministries/ethics/latvia/Papers/haient.htm
Phil B. (n.d.). The Definition of Morality and Ethics: Phil for Humanity. Retrieved April 12,
2010, from http://www.philforhumanity.com/The_Definition_of_Morality_and_Ethics.html
Richard (2005, July 9). Society and Morality: Philosophy et cetera. Retrieved April 12, 2010,
"Ethics" (n.d.). Answers.com: The World's Leading Q & A Site. Retrieved April 12, 2010, from http://www.answers.com/topic/ethics-legal-term
"How do I Maintain my Integrity" (n.d.). What do you Stand for? Retrieved April 12, 2010, from http://www.scribblers-ink.com/work_ethics.html
"Values and Ethics" (n.d.). Strategic Leadership and Decision Making: National Defense
University. Retrieved April 12, 2010, from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ndu/strat-ldr-dm/pt4ch15.html