Ethics for Public Administration
Chapters One and 2
Are not neutral
Participate in the public policy process
Make policy recommendations
Engage in policy implementation
WHY STUDY ETHICS?
The Responsible Administrator: An approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role
The role of the public administrator in an organizational setting
Integrating Ethical Concept:
Central Ethical Process:
Comprehensive design approach
“The attempt to state and evaluate principles by which ethical problems may be solved.”
“normative standards of conduct derived from the philosophical and religious traditions of society.”
“concerned with what is right, fair, just, or good; about what we ought to do.”
Text: study of moral conduct and moral status
Morality assumes accepted norms of behavior
Ethics involves the examination of the logic, values, beliefs, and principles that are used to justify morality in its various forms.
Descriptive or normative
Deontological (principle based) or teleological (consequences based)
Law “must always stand under the judgment of ethics” Cooper
Responsibility and Role
Objective accountability for conduct
Subjective congruence with one’s professional values
Able to give reasons for one’s conduct
Able to understand in a self-conscious way why one acted
A Design Approach
Addresses immediate situation but takes into account legal, organizational, and social context for longer term impact.
A problem-solving approach
Solutions rely on facts, not just options
Reality of acting under pressure
Ethical problems are dynamic
Understanding Ethical Decision Making
Character traits: built from decisions made as we define boundaries/content of responsibility
This is often done without consistent, intentional, and systematic reflection
Reflective ethics: design the best course of action
for specific problems we face
given constraints of time and information
Aiken’s 4 Levels of Ethical Reflection
what feels like the right thing?
Moral Rules Level
what rule should I follow?
Ethical Analysis Level
what are the principles involved?
why should I be principled?
Ethical analysis: principles underlying choices Exercise re tobacco, etc.
Which is best?
Emotion is only one aspect
Merely reflects socialization
ETHICAL –proceed with reasoned justification
Easier for others to understand
So personal consensus could be difficult
Descriptive Models: what is
Early on, feeling of futility
Blasi (1980)—impossible to close gap between moral judgment and moral behavior
Later research shows interaction of the two:
Wittmer (2005) “awareness….judgment…behavior.”
Rest (1984, 1986) –interpretation of situation, judgment of the situation, selection of options, action
Trevino (1986)—person-situation interaction
Prescriptive Models: what should be
Simply following someone else’s past history may not fit my environment
Simply prescribing is not enough
Problem-solving is required
Description and prescription are combined
Template needed for designing best solution
Contingency is important
May need to alter course (dynamic)
The Descriptive Task
Sift through judgmental reports of issue
Balance the “hierarchy of credibility”(Becker 1973)
Avoid good-guys/bad-guys language
Facts include key actors, viewpoints, issues, event sequence, risks, what we don’t know.
Define the Ethical Issues
They will appear when conflict, uncertainty, tension, risk exist
Issue = competing or conflicting
Many administrators can identify issues, but not principles underlying them.
Identifying Alternative Courses of Action
Be wary of either/or options.
Be willing to SCAMPER (McDonald’s)
S = Substitute (real estate for hamburgers)
C = Combine (meals with lodging for parents)
A = Adapt (Latte, yogurt)
M = Magnify (expand to other countries)
P = Put to Other Uses (raise $ for charity)
E = Eliminate (or Minify) (waiters)
R = Rearrange (or Reverse) (payment)
Finding a Fit
An alternative that balances principle with consequences
The test of publicity
Satisfaction with the alternative
Look into the future and anticipate how we will feel about ourselves
Does it match or violate our principles?
What will we feel
Guilt, remorse, and self-reproach
Pride and approval from others
Project Probable Consequences
Instead of usual black-and-white simple melodrama, imagine epic alternatives with consequences.
The more alternatives (with consequences) the better, especially with complex issues.
Consequences may be outweighed by principles.
All steps every time?
Systematically develop intuitive models that create “smooth, automatic performance of learned behavior sequences.” (Cleveland, 1972)
Requires discipline and practice
Creates autonomy and choice
REWARDS: Self-awareness, self-control, and flexibility of decision-making