Methods for Resolving Ethical Problems

In many day-to-day situations in the professional working environment, the Code of Ethics may well suggest, indeed dictate a clear solution to an ethical problem. For example:

You are a civil engineering technician and have been asked by a local environmental protection society to give some advice on the design of a boardwalk that will provide public access out over a pond so that visitors can view the resident wildlife. Through your work you have been involved in many similar construction projects and have a good idea of what the finished structure might look like. But you have no actual design experience.

Familiarity with the third principle of the Code of Ethics: provide an opinion on a professional subject only when it is founded upon adequate knowledge and honest conviction, would very quickly confirm that you should not follow through on the request for advice.

Clauses 1 and 2 – which relate to public safety and undertaking and accepting responsibility for professional assignments – would also apply.

But there are many situations when it is much more difficult to arrive at a quick solution based on a set of 'guidelines' like the Code of Ethics. Many approaches have been put forward for resolving more complex ethical problems but perhaps the most easily understood is a set-by-step, structured problem solving method.

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