Ethical Dilemma in Public Administration
Under utilitarian approach the solution of ethical dilemma involves choosing to sacrifice an individual for saving the greater number of people. Causing harm to a single person is not wrong when one has to save many people. Utilitarian judgment involves range of complex issues such as rejection of impartial concern for attaining greater good. The approach involves cost-benefits analysis that leads to greater good. It involves, “to be willing to sacrifice one person to save a greater number is merely to reject (or overrule) one such non-utilitarian rule. Such rejection, however, is compatible with accepting extreme non-utilitarian rules in many other contexts—rules about lying, retribution, fairness or property” (Jim, Brian, Miguel, & Savulescu, 2015). It is important for the public administrators to adopt ethical values in problem solving process. The concept emphasize on how public agents will act in public settings. dealing with ethical dilemma in public administration require critical decision-making as it focuses on choosing the best solution.
The imperative for accountability
Public agents adopt utilitarian approach and accepts their accountability. The primary solution for resolving ethical dilemma involve knowing values. The individual must hold certain values that society recognizes. Before applying the values an individual must know what those values are. Under utilitarian approach the resolution of ethical dilemma depends on personal beliefs regarding the importance of saving larger number of people. It also emphasize on sacrificing self because the emphasis of the theory is on benefiting the larger population. Knowing values involving searching for reasoning associated with every decision of an individual. Reasoning about morality reflects choosing for the greater happiness. The moral standards emphasize on the happiness of many. It involves thinking if the action is just or unjust.
It states, “discourse about values that ought to guide conduct was considered as a value in itself that would bring about virtue and happiness if sought after in a persistent and systematic way” (Makrydemetres, 2002). The decision-maker face sets of alternatives and need to choose the most appropriate option. They are accountable to the parliament and the public depicting the need for taking actions that results in greater good. The principles of virtue motivates them to take decisions that concentrates on the happiness of masses. Utilitarianism focuses on status quo of majority’s happiness. The principle of virtue emphasize on the benefit of many that exhibits the idea of equality. The public agents focus on taking actions that leads to the maximization of satisfaction. Providing benefit to greater number of people depicts their reliance on utilitarian approach (Jim, Brian, Miguel, & Savulescu, 2015),
Imperative of accountability helps public administrators in solving ethical dilemma. They know that they are accountable to the parliament and the public. The though keeps them away from taking actions that threatens their accountability. The concept of democratic virtue also explains the role of accountability in their actions and decisions. The principle of accountability will allow them to take actions that helps them in fulfilling their duty. They exhibit spirits of neutrality and discretion in their official capacity in performance of their duties. Their primary role is to adopt democratic virtues that allows them to perform their duties according to the ethical values. Moral integrity is also part of their accountability allowing them to sacrificing self for the benefit of larger population (Makrydemetres, 2002).
Imperative for legality
The second principle of virtue identified by utilitarian approach is imperative of legality. The principle plays dominant role in motivating public agents to take roles that are within legal aspects. Max Weber recognizes the principle as legitimation of authority. It states, “respect for and application of the principle of legality entails a particular type of control on administrative action that aims to see that public administration operates within the context of the law established by the legislature (Parliament)” (Makrydemetres, 2002). The purpose of the principle is to allow public agents in efficient decision-making that fulfills the legal conditions. The rule of law states that the agent follows the principles and conditions highlighted by justice and administration. Through adoption of laws and acting according to the defined rules, the agent acts to promote equity and justice. Principle of legality in the administrative performance eliminates the chances of injustice or unfair treatment. Avoidance of abuse of power remains another effective concept of the principle of legality. Through following laws and regulations the agent does not make wrong use of his power that allows him to act according to the ethical norms. The actions that the leaders take are according to law and order.
Imperative of integrity
The third option that allow the leaders to act according to the principles of virtue involve imperative of integrity. The concept of integrity according to the utilitarian approach allows public agents to exhibit professional behavior. The principle states that, “professional integrity and autonomy the ‘professional virtue’, as we may call it qualifying absolute hierarchical subordination entails that public administration may be brought under political guidance and control but its staff is recruited and serves under the authority of law and in the public interest, and not on the basis of partisan favoritism” (Makrydemetres, 2002). The principle allows public agents to take profession role that eliminates the issues of ineffective management. The option of integrity emphasize on recruitment of the performance. It emphasize on the measures adopted by the public agents in promotion of corporate spirit and self-governance (Jim, Brian, Miguel, & Savulescu, 2015).
Greatest amount of public good
The option of imperative of integrity will give greatest amount of public good. The option is vital for the public leaders to make appropriate use of power and perform duties fairly. The idea of special rights and obligations also promotes integrity. It prevents the agent from engaging in wrongful conduct due to the conduction of judgment in accordance with the standards and principles of virtue. The option is most effective in preventing the public agent from focusing on self-interest. It is also significant in promoting fairness and ethical judgments (Makrydemetres, 2002).
Option involving least cost
The imperative of legality involve least cost as it allow public agents to act in accordance with laws and rules defined by the justice system. The agents must act according to the law and adopt values identified in utilitarian system. The imperative for legality permits agents to articulate system of rules and laws. The option focuses on taking actions that are according to the rule of law. The principle of virtue motivate agents to avoid indulging in wrongful acts. As the option relies on personal beleifs it does not involve monetary cost (Graham et al., 2003).
The three options discussed in the paper are important in promoting principles of virtue. The imperatives of accountability, legality and integrity allow government agents to perform roles that are purely ethical and permit them to take actions for the greater good. The options also fulfills the conditions of the utilitarian approach as they allow agents to act according to the ethical principles. The status quo under influence of these imperatives focuses on the happiness of the greater people. Adoption of the imperatives of accountability, legality and integrity promotes fairness in judgments and neutrality in decision-making.
Graham, J., Plumptre, T. W., & Amos, B. (2003). Principles for good governance in the 21st century. Ottawa: Institute on governance.
Jim, G. K., Brian, A. E., Miguel, D., & Savulescu, F. (2015). ‘Utilitarian’ judgments in sacrificial moral dilemmas do not reflect impartial concern for the greater good. Cognition , 134.
Makrydemetres, A. (2002). Dealing with ethical dilemmas in public administration: the ‘ALIR’ imperatives of ethical reasoning.