Principles defining each character.
Implementation of the traditional ethical thinking skills.
Utilization of the ethical triangle.
The ethical approaches need to be combined for the purpose of more effective decision-making in public administration. The elements of the ethical triangle may be used as filters for ethical analysis of the situations and appropriate decision making. Kent Chartwell, Marion Meriwether and Winston Battle in case 2 Paul’s scenario are examples of Peter, Mary and Paul schemes of human behavior.
Only combining the three traditional ethical approaches (virtue, principle and consequences) and acting in accordance to the ethics triangle, the mayor could achieve the greatest good for the greater number.
Interacting with Marion Meriwether and Winston Battle, Mayor Chartwell had to deal with specialists possessing Mary and Paul charts of competence. Thus, being competent, enthusiastic and creative but not promoted, Marion is an example of Mary scheme of professional behavior.
Actually, she retrains, knows all the angles of the sphere, generates brilliant ideas, and does all the work, but her contribution seems to remain unnoticed because she is offered to be an assistant or co-director but not to take the lead.
Winston Battle is an example of Paul competence chart. On the one hand, this employee lacks creativity and enthusiasm. On the other hand, he is reluctant to work on the project and seems to be tired and over burnt. It is possible that he has performed well in the past but he is absolutely useless, running the summer recreational program.
The virtue, principles and consequences approaches have been implemented by the participants of the scenario. Mayor Chartwell decides on the principle approach, insisting on leaving Battle as the director of the program, supposing that if an individual has been appointed for the position, he must have deserved it and can do his best, contributing to the greatest good.
Marion Meriwether used the virtue approach, intuitively defining measures that can be beneficial for improving the project and enhancing its effectiveness. The consequences approach has been chosen by Battle as he was not interested in the process and its details.
He used the summer program for padding his personal payroll and being informed that he would have to make some efforts for making the program more effective, decided to leave the project. Thus, overutilizing a single model, each of the characters would have failed to reach the greatest good.
Only using the ethic triangle can help to balance virtue, balance and consequences approaches and to promote the public interest. Thompson & Leidlein (2009) noted that „using the ethics triangle helps to prevent the problems associated with using any of the models alone” (p. 67).
Overutilizing the principle approach, Mayor Chartwell could decrease the effectiveness of the project. But thinking over reaching the greatest good and consequences of his decisions, he rated Marion’s contribution at its true value and decided to involve her into the project.
However, following the principle-based approach, he offered her only the position of an assistant. Mayor failed to use the ethical model overestimating the principle of leaving the employee who has been performing well in the past on the position occupied.
“Operating inside the triangle helps prevent the shortcomings of each approach as its angles inform and limit one another” (Bowman, West, & Berman, 2004, p. 71).
Thus, the principle side of the triangle could reduce the benefits of the virtue and consequences-based approaches. It was only due to the juncture of the events that Marion Meriwether was promoted and the greatest good for the greatest number has been achieved.
Bowman, J.S., West, J.P., & Berman, E.M. (2004). The professional edge: Competencies in public service. New York, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Thompson, W.N. & Leidlein, J.E. (2009). Ethics in city hall: Discussion and analysis for public administration. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.