This model is most at home where, from an administrative standpoint, one seeks ethical guidelines suitable for public policy. Putting oneís option in standard form has the following advantages:
Although on your handouts this chart is done with a six-pointed Star of David in the center, I don't know how to do the same graphic for this webpage, so I'm just doing the model as a list of six steps.a. it gives one distance on the problem;
b) it allows one to construct qualified positions which go beyond "always" and "never" positions
c) it allows one to run certain tests concerning fairness and consequences
1. LIST POSSIBLE OPTIONS
2. FILTER OUT those options which are (a) not really practical (do-able)
(b) are so extreme that they raise additional ethical problems.
(e.g. killing the teacher to avoid cheating on a test).
3. CHOOSE ONE OPTION and put it in STANDARD FORM:
In ANY CIRCUMSTANCES X (or having features x1. x2, ... xn),
ANY ETHICAL AGENT Y (agents with features y1. y2, ... yn)
OUGHT/OUGHT NOT DO ACTION Z
(or an action having features z1. z2, ... zn)
4. TESTS FOR FAIRNESS
For these Fairness Tests we are indebted to Immanuel Kant who thought deeply about the nature of persons.
"Persons are not things." Or alternately, "persons have rights."
Persons are centers of worth having intellects and the ability to choose.
5. TEST FOR CONSEQUENCESA. Reversibility Test
If Z is right to do, then Z is right whether Iím on the doer or receiver side.
B. Equal Cases Test
If it is right for me to do Z, then it is right for anyone relevantly similar to me.
You must treat equal cases equally or show that in spite of looking similar, the two cases are relevantly different and can be treated differently.
C. Universalizability Test -- generalizes from "equal cases" test.
Suppose it is right for A to do Z. If B is relevantly similar to A (abbreviated B "rst" A), then it is right for B to do Z.
If C is "rst" B, then it is right for C to do Z.
If D is "rst" C, then OK for D and on and on until we
must consider what would occur if everyone (or almost everyone) did Z.
"What if everyone did Z?" is the universalized question.
(Steps 5 and 6 look to Bentham & Mill and the "Actions have consequences.") aspect.
LIST THE CONSEQUENCES (to you, to others, to what joins you together) if everyone were to follow your rule, i.e., if this rule were to become a PRACTICE.
6. ASK YOURSELF: Could I truly accept a world in which
acting on this rule were a way of life? Notice
that Step 6 brings together considerations of both the rights of persons
and consequences to the common life.
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