Ethical decision-making

Let’s use the ethical dilemma presented in the Understanding ethics (Grace and her best friend Sylvie—read it again below) to practice the steps of ethical decision-making.

Step 1.

Identify the options, thinking in terms of the cause/effect relationship.

Step 2. Analyze each option by asking the following questions:

  1. Who would be most affected by my decision?

  2. Do any of the options involve doing something that is against any law, rule, or code of conduct? (Do you have enough information to answer this question? If not, use available resources, such as a code of conduct, to gather more facts.)

  3. What character traits could I use to describe myself if I made this decision?

  4. If I told someone I respect about my decision, what would they think?

  5. If someone wrote a news story about this situation, and my decision, would I be embarrassed to read about it in the newspaper? Would other people reading the story consider me to be a good citizen?

  6. Are the benefits to this decision short-term or long-term? Who benefits the most from this decision? Me?

Step 3.

Make a decision and put it into action.
Step 4. Reflect on your decision.
If you were presented with this situation in the future—would you make the same decision?


What would you do?decisions

Grace’s best friend Sylvie wants to go to a concert with some friends. Sylvie’s parents will not give her permission to go—they say that a concert is not a safe place for a 6th grader. Sylvie tells Grace she is going to tell her parents that she’s staying overnight with Grace so she can go to the concert. Sylvie asks Grace to ‘cover for her'. If you were Grace, what would you do?

Going further: Try your hand at ethical decision-making