Moral theory in ethical decision making: Problems, clarifications and recommendations from a psychological perspective [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 42 (1):11-25 (2003)

Psychological theory and research in ethical decision making and ethical professional practice are presently hampered by a failure to take appropriate account of an extensive background in moral philosophy. As a result, attempts to develop models of ethical decision making are left vulnerable to a number of criticisms: that they neglect the problems of meta-ethics and the variety of meta-ethical perspectives; that they fail clearly and consistently to differentiate between descriptive and prescriptive accounts; that they leave unexplicated the theoretical assumptions derived from the underlying moral theories; and that they fail to accommodate the complexity and comprehensiveness of the processes involved in the making and implementing of ethical decisions. Many of these problems also have implications for the methodological domain. This paper offers an analysis of the difficulties, and makes a number of recommendations for future theory, research and practical applications, including: the need for training in moral philosophy; clarification of the status of Professional Codes in decisional models; the development of theoretically comprehensive prescriptive models; and the testing of these models in ways that do justice to their dimensional scope and theoretical complexity
Keywords comprehensive EDM model  decision making  descriptive models  ethical decision making  ethics  moral theory  prescriptive models  psychological research
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1021654015232
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