Ethics Case

8 August 2016

The issue in this ethics case regards Greg’s decision on reviewing his group mate Natalie’s poor teamwork. This analysis explains how to address the issue from each of the five ethical decision-making approaches. Each approach provides different ethical actions that help lead to a right decision. Even though there are different ways to determine which approach to use in Greg’s dilemma, the best approach to use in this situation is the justice approach.

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In the ethics case “Picking Up the Slack” there are notable facts of Natalie’s poor behavior and actions that negatively affect her final group project with Greg. Natalie’s poor behaviors include not paying attention in meetings, arriving late or hung over to the meetings, and not taking the final project seriously. There are insufficient facts to the reasons that compel Natalie to portray such poor performance leading to her marginally participating in discussions, planning, and writing. Natalie’s excuses are not displayed validly in this case.

These excuses for her actions could range from family problems at home to other obligations that she has to deal with. This situation could have been better understood if there was information regarding Natalie’s personal life to determine the source of her poor decisions. Even though not all of the necessary facts are known, a decision can still be made with what has been stated. The main concern is the scale on which Greg is going to evaluate Natalie’s performance. Greg runs into a dilemma on how to rate Natalie’s lack of contribution.

While everyone in the group has already been evaluated fairly, the only way to make the right decision would be to confront Natalie and give her the grade she deserves. The five ethical decision-making approaches have different views on how Greg should evaluate Natalie. The first approach, the utilitarian approach, is the ethical action that provides the most good or does the least harm for all who are affected. The utilitarian approach in this case shows that Greg’s group mates would all be affected by Greg’s evaluation because they are all receiving good letter grades on their final presentation.

Even though Greg is providing the greatest balance of good over harm, he is still affecting Natalie whether he gives her an honest grade or not. However, the utilitarian approach deals with consequences; Greg is trying to increase the good and reduce the harm done in this situation. The second approach, the rights approach, includes that everyone has dignity based on their human nature or ability to choose freely what to do with their lives. The rights approach explains the ethical action that best protects and respects the moral rights of those who are affected.

If Greg decides not to give Natalie an honest evaluation, he is deciding to protect Natalie’s GPA and last stretch to graduation. The third approach, the fairness or justice approach, deals with treating all human beings equally or fairly based on the standard that is defensible. Would it be fair for the student slacking off to receive the same grade as the student working hard? The student who isn’t pulling their weight shouldn’t receive the same grade as the student picking up their slack. Therefore, it wouldn’t be fair for Natalie to receive the same evaluation as her teammates.

The fourth approach, according to the Five Sources of Ethical Standards is the common good approach, which states, “interlocking relationships of society are the basis of ethical reasoning and that respect and compassion for all others – especially the vulnerable – are requirements of such reasoning”. Greg portrays his just ethical actions and respect by giving Natalie a good review so she can graduate. Lastly, the virtue approach states that ethical actions must be consistent with certain ideal qualities that provide the full development of one’s humanity.

Greg’s true character will be revealed based on the decision he makes on reviewing Natalie’s performance. Will his actions be consistent with his evaluations for the rest of his team? The virtue approach asks these types of questions to determine how a person has developed. Based on the facts of the case, Natalie’s poor team contribution put a huge burden on her group mates’ shoulders by not carrying her own weight. Natalie’s shared portion of the final project had to be redone by other members of the group. Natalie’s contribution clearly displays how much effort she put in.

Of the five ethical approaches, Greg should follow the justice approach because it is fair to be graded based on how well a group can work together and achieve a common goal. Even though the professor will give each member the grade they deserve, Greg should make the decision of giving Natalie an honest evaluation. If Greg gives Natalie an honest peer evaluation, her GPA will be negatively affected. Since the ethics case didn’t state Natalie’s GPA, a conclusion cannot be drawn as to whether or not she will graduate on time.

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