Jonathan judgements are learned by generations of

Jonathan Haidt discusses five
foundations of morality. In short, these include harm, fairness, loyalty, authority,
and purity. Avoiding harm and promoting fairness seem to hold a stronger presence
when considering moral dilemmas. It is simple to understand why harming others
is wrong. When it happens, that individual’s pain is blatant and obvious. Most
modern societies maintain the belief that all people within it are equal, and
as such, deserve fairness in treatment of each other. (Haidt, 2008)

Loyalty to one’s family or
companionship can blur the lines of what is right or wrong. It is viewed as the
right thing to do to offer support to those we love. But if someone we love commits
a crime or hurts someone, is it morally correct to help them? Where do we draw
the line? Certain situations would call for different reactions from the moral

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While loyalty seems to drive the
gray area of morality, authority and respect drift even further from the things
that should truly matter. If we live in a society where all are equal and
should be treated fairly, why should we give authority to some and not others?
In a society where differences are embraced, why listen to those who want to
make us all the same?

These questions often evolve into
others, which question purity. Why are religious or political leaders allowed
to say how a woman should treat her body or what is proper behavior in a couple’s
relationship? These behaviors are frowned upon and people are shamed as a result
of others’ opinions of what is right or wrong. But these judgements are learned
by generations of influential religious or political leaders and their followers,
which then result in parents teaching their children that behavior. Many people’s
understanding of what is right or wrong simply comes from what their parents or
circle of influence believes in. Its is this train of thought that makes it so
easy to understand why liberal minded people deem much less moral significance
in loyalty, authority and purity than they do in harm and fairness.

In her book, “Normative Ethics”, Shelly Kagan evaluates the tiers of morality by
proposing an idea called “Chopping Up Chuck”. In this hypothetical situation, a
surgeon has five patients that will die without an organ transplant for various
parts of the body. Chuck comes into the hospital for some routine tests and the
surgeon discovers he is a perfect tissue match for all five patients. The surgeon
is now faced with a moral dilemma. Should they chop up Chuck to save the other
five patients? Most rational people would say “of course not!” It is wrong to
harm a person even if the end result is saving five. (Kagan, 1997)

The idea of prioritizing harm-avoidance
is essential to any thriving community. No population of people would ever be
able to grow or expand if they exist in a society where it is acceptable to hurt
others because there would be no one left. This foundation is more important
than the rest because the results of this action will always be the most severe
and will often supersede the other virtues. (Kagan, 1997)

The moral compass people follow in
their personal lives often directly effects their decisions and actions at work.
Because so many people have such different understandings and priorities in
moral character, it is difficult for a company to be able to adhere to everyone’s
ethical values equally. It is for that reason that many companies choose certain
values or codes of conduct above others, and choose to run the business according
to those beliefs and guidelines.

The fundamental approach to achieving
this in an organization is to implement an integrity approach. It embraces the
idea that certain education, leadership, business processes and accountability
enable responsible conduct and promote self-governance according to certain
chosen standards. While a Compliance Strategy emphasizes avoiding criminal
misconduct, the Integrity Strategy empowers employees and members of the
organization to count on themselves to do the right thing. Different companies
choose which core values hold precedent and drive the organization. (Pain, 1994)

“During the past decade, a number
of companies have undertaken integrity initiatives. They vary according to the
ethical values focused on and the implementation approaches used. Some
companies focus on the core values of integrity that reflect basic social
obligations, such as respect for the rights of others, honesty, fair dealing,
and obedience to the law. Other companies emphasize aspirations—values that are
ethically desirable but not necessarily morally obligatory—such as good service
to customers, a commitment to diversity, and involvement in the community.” (Pain,
1994, Integrity as a Governing Ethic Section)


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