People occasionally engage in acts of behavior that can be considered as ethically questionable. It is denial, it is lying, but it is lying to convince oneself, because the truth is unbearable, or inconvenient. Some of the worst crimes in human history have been rationalized by lovers. When we encounter values conflicts in the workplace, we often face barriers that appear in the form of “reasons and rationalizations” for pursuing a particular course of action. Scholars. If you are doing no worse than Churchill, of Gandhi, or Lincoln, or Martin Luther King or Princess Diana, after all, how bad can you be? When the famous wreck was discovered in 2011, its identity was confirmed by the presence of silver coins minted by Eric XIV the year before the battle that sunk her in 1563. Before too long, one has embraced “the ends justify the means” as an ethical system, otherwise known as “the terrorism standard.”. Ethical people willingly, openly and fearlessly point fingers at themselves, if necessary and deserved. It does not mean, for example, that because you like snakes, it is ethical to place a rubber snake in the bed of a friend who might be terrified of them. This rationalization is named after American gymnast Paul Hamm, who adamantly refused to voluntarily surrender the Olympic gold metal he admittedly had been awarded because of an official scoring error. Yes, we often have a right to do something wrong. This preview shows page 3 - 5 out of 7 pages. No set of rules will apply in all situations, and one who is determined to look for loopholes in a set of laws, or rules, or in an ethics code, so that he or she can do something self-serving, dishonest, or dastardly, is likely to find a way. The “They’re Just as Bad” Excuse, or “They had it coming” the claim is that the wrongdoing of the victim either earned the misconduct or somehow made it ethical by the victim’s own conduct. Cruel pranks and practical jokes are often excused with this rationalization: “Hey, I wouldn’t get upset about that!”. He has a duty to the pirates (I would say that his stated determination to “wipe them off the face of the earth” is also unethical, given their treatment of him.) How a bad actor intended his unethical conduct to turn out is no mitigation at all. “It’s complicated” is an ethics cop-out. It was the pride and joy of Sweden’s King Eric XIV’s fleet, and one of the largest warships of the time. There are four problems with #32. When an act suggests that more than an honest mistake or single instance of bad judgment was involved, and that an individual’s conduct indicates a broader lack of character or ethical sensitivity, “Nobody’s perfect!” and “Everybody makes mistakes!” are not only inappropriate and irrelevant, but are presumptively efforts to change the subject. rationalizations According to one study, there are four common rationalizations (excuses) for justifying misconduct: 1) My behavior isn't really illegal or immoral. Nor is there any support for the assertion that where history goes is intrinsically and unequivocally good or desirable. Rescuing a rotter from certain death is as admirable as rescuing an innocent child; horse-whipping a chiseling, cheating, wife-beating cannibal is still wrong. a formal statement of an organization’s values and ethical. Neither principle, however, means that the incriminating evidence is less true because of how it was uncovered, or the conduct behind it less wrong. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing”. His wife, First Lady Hillary Clinton, prominently defended her husband, somehow keeping her feminist creds at the same time, a neat trick. “Don’t point fingers!”, or its common variation, “Stop pointing fingers!” provides protection for the very people who most deserve to be pointed to, allowing them to deny culpability, avoid the just consequences of their failings, and best of all, divert appropriate attention from what they have done or not done to the supposed meanness and vindictiveness of critics who want to make sure the same mistakes don’t occur again, especially with the same officials in charge. The gulf between the individual’s admiration of the person (a positive attitude) and the individual’s objection to the behavior (a negative attitude) must be reconciled. Sadly, it is natural to be unethical, which is why learning, thinking about and practicing ethics are necessary and important. Because her decision to ignore, forgive or tolerate may be the product of bias, self-interest, or other non-ethical considerations that make the decision unreliable, untrustworthy, and a poor template for the response of others, as well as societal standards. Making a joke, after all, is a little like shooting a gun: whether or not it hits the mark, you’re responsible for the result. The rationalizer refuses to perform a necessary ethical act out of apathy, callousness or fear, but this was reasonable because he or she was certain that someone else would do the right thing instead. It can take the form of bullying. Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Factchecker and himself an Obama accountability-evader on occasion (though much less lately), pronounced that pointed finger a digital lie: “Generally, Congress gave the NIH about what the president requested — sometimes more, sometimes less. He lost his job and his career, because his employers didn’t want somebody on their payroll who made those kinds of “jokes.” Everyone knew Don Imus’s infamous insult to a women’s basketball team was supposed to be a joke too, but if it was going to lose enough listeners and sponsors, his employers had every right and reason to bid him adieu. “I’m the bad guy?” he asks incredulously. You’re a Senator, and decisions that affect lives, careers and institutions are often difficult. And through the long, long night will I, unruffled, No, looters, the fact that a business is a smoldering wreck does not make stealing even damaged merchandise from it “okay.” No, pulling the plug on a comatose patient without his previous consent or that of someone he has authorize to give it is still wrong, both legally and ethically. The rationalization attempts to transform the wrongdoer into the judge’s reflection. The next step, however, in which a single life, or even many, is deemed justification for any expense or other draconian societal trade-offs, is impractical and irrational. What’s done is done. The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”. The soldiers asked to fire on their own people when the Iron Curtain governments were crumbling all refused, one after another. According to a study by Jack L. Hayes International, one out … In ethics, wrongful conduct is usually identifiable by its nature and intent. 36C. Comparative Virtue, or “It’s not the worst thing” is my least favorite of all the rationalizations, but The Evasive Tautology is the most annoying. Named after a particularly enduring Chappaquiddick joke, #52A resembles many of the rationalizations on the list, because “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” is both a rationalization and legitimate argument, depending on the circumstances. 1. In #15, the rationalizer wants to avoid the consequences of doing something unethical by arguing that his or her refusal to follow orders would have no practical effect: someone else would just step in and do what was demanded anyway. Many other kinds of behavior as well, but that is just the factual error in the this rationalization. Tortured or inexplicable defenses of otherwise clearly wrong behavior in public dialogue are often the product of cognitive dissonance. Enough about the people to choose another course a murderer delegated the decision on own. 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