Lesson 2: Ethics and Decision Making

The idea that decision-making and ethics go hand-in-hand is a notion that goes back thousands of years and is related to Protagoras’ idea that communicators need to be able to argue both sides of an issue. Protagoras knew that genuine understanding came by understanding the nuances of opinion and the complexities of issues. If all someone knows is his/her own biased or partisan position, then genuine understanding will never occur, and faulty decision-making will often result. But decision-making is a complicated process involving interactions with other stakeholders and stake seekers, key publics, the media, activists, and others. Additionally, decision-making is influenced by a number of internal variables such as how we personally view a situation, our past experiences, the knowledge that we as individuals possess about a topic, etc.

The second part of this lesson deals with how to use our personal ethics and insights to make better decisions and to obtain more success at achieving our individual and organizational goals when interacting with others. Two dominions of knowledge are important to understand, first, the process of working in groups and how ethics inform group situations, and second, how individual decision making traits influence the decisions that we make. The first issue will be to understand the group process.

Next Page: The Fundamentals of Group Decision Making