The Ethical Cycle

Journal of Business Ethics 71 (1):1 - 13 (2007)
Abstract
Arriving at a moral judgment is not a straightforward or linear process in which ethical theories are simply applied to cases. Instead it is a process in which the formulation of the moral problem, the formulation of possible "solutions", and the ethical judging of these solutions go hand in hand. This messy character of moral problems, however, does not rule out a systematic approach. In this article, we describe a systematic approach to problem solving that does justice to the complex nature of moral problems and ethical judgment: the ethical cycle. Our goal is to provide a structured and disciplined method of addressing moral problems, which helps to guide a sound analysis of these problems. We will illustrate the usefulness of this cycle with an example. Further, we will discuss two general issues in applied ethics in relation to the proposed ethical cycle: the role of ethical theories and the place of individual judgment versus collective deliberation.
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