Sunday, February 2, 2020

Potter Box model of Ethical decision making


Introduction
The Potter Box is an ethical framework used to make decisions by utilizing four categories which Potter identifies as universal to all ethical dilemmas. The Potter Box uses four dimensions of moral analysis to help in situations where ethical dilemmas occur: Facts, Values, Principles, and Loyalties.
It was introduced by Ralph Potter, a Harvard philosopher and theologian. This model is a tool for making an effective ethical decision,
which guides a decision-maker towards a judgment. It is also known as the Potter Box model. It is based on the idea that ethical dilemmas result from conflicts that arise from the situation at hand, the values we hold, the principles we use to make our decisions, and the duties we have to others.
Illustration of the Potter Box model


   Situation (Facts)

         Principles

         Values

          Loyalty

Explanation of the model
Situation (Facts)
To make a decision, one will have to follow four steps also known as four quadrants. The first quadrant is to define the situation it is also known as facts. In this step, you have to collect as much information as available about how the situation arose and how the situation is now. You have to list all the facts for a better understanding. You should not hide any of the facts without making any judgment about the ethical dilemma you are trying to solve.
Values
Values are the aspects that are considered to be important to you personally. This helps to find out
what is wrong/right, good/bad to you. For instance, if you value both truth and privacy, then you may be willing to give up some truth to attempt to preserve someone’s privacy. Values are helpful in rationalizing or defending your behaviour. When you reach a conclusion, your decision should not go against your values. In addition to personal values, there are professional values, moral values, logical values, cultural values and others which sometimes you have to keep in mind.
Principles
Principle helps to think about what serves the greatest good.
What we would want others to do in this situation is considered. Principles are ethical philosophies or modes of ethical reasoning. There are several ethical philosophies which help a decision-maker to understand the situation better. Some of the ethical philosophies are:
  • The Golden Mean (Aristotle)

It is virtues that lie at the middle between extremes of excess and deficiency such as the mean of cowardice and silliness is courage. It involves the correct quantity, correct timing, correct manner, etc. this is taking the middle ground in an ethical dilemma, not the extreme.

  • Categorical Imperative (Kant)

This holds that truth is universal and must be maintained at all times no matter the consequences.
Act so that your choices could become a universal law. It dictates what we must never do. It defines your duties such as strict duties (not to harm), meritorious duties (to render aid), etc. it dictates that any genuine moral obligation can be universalized. There is the existence of higher truths.

  • Principle of Utility

An act’s rightness is determined by its contribution to a desirable end. Consider what course will yield the best consequences for the welfare of people. It explains that we must seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.
 For example, while publishing an article on investigative reporting, the results may harm people in the way of providing a greater societal benefit. In brief, this step involves identifying your principle or philosophy that suits you. But while choosing the principle, you should be sure that it is applicable to your situation. Your decision should not oppose what you identify in this step.
Loyalty
The last quadrant is loyalties. It determines to whom you must be loyal in the situation. It concerns who you have support or loyal to. The four important loyalties are to your employer, your profession, society and yourself. In this step, you have to decide to whom you should be loyal to. Discussion of loyalty may lead to new facts that necessitate following the four steps again.

References
Potter Box. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potter_Box.  Accessed on the 31st Jan 2020.
Potter’s Model of Ethical Decision Making. Available at https://jugalsth.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/potters-model-of-ethical-decision-making/ Accessed on the 30th Jan 2020.

 

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