Synthesis of Ethical Theory

Unit 4


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  • Synthesis of Ethical Theory


In this unit, you will integrate and synthesize the ethical theories from Units 1–3 into your own view of moral philosophy. The assignment in this unit asks you to articulate what you believe to be right and wrong conduct. In subsequent units, your moral philosophy will be applied to moral and ethical dilemmas as you determine the appropriate conduct and actions for a leader facing these dilemmas.

An ethical dilemma occurs when there is no right or wrong answer. However, there are consequences—both good and bad—no matter how you decide. An example of this is the sinking of the Titanic, when there were too many people in each of the lifeboats. A choice had to be made. Should those in the boats risk sinking in hopes that help comes before that happens, or should the number of people in the boats be reduced to make sure that some people may be saved?


Another moral dilemma occurs when the means to achieve an end that is moral and right is not ethical. An example of this is breaking an organizational rule to achieve a result that is beneficial to the organization.

Ethical Situations
Ethical Means Ethical Ends Ethical Practice – Everyone Benefits
Ethical Means Ethical Ends Moral Dilemma – Winners and Losers
Unethical Means Ethical Ends Moral Dilemma
Unethical Means Unethical Ends Unethical Practice


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[u04s1] Unit 04 Study 1



Use your The Elements of Moral Philosophy text to read or review the following:

    • Chapter 1, “What Is Morality?,” pages 1–14.
    • Chapter 2, “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism,” pages 15–32.
    • Chapter 3, “Subjectivism in Ethics,” pages 33–48.
    • Chapter 5, “The Egoism Approach,” pages 64–81.
    • Chapter 6, “The Social Contract Approach,” pages 82–98.
    • Chapter 7, “The Utilitarian Approach,” pages 99–110.
    • Chapter 9, “Are There Absolute Moral Rules?,” pages 126–136.
    • Chapter 10, “Kant and Respect for Persons,” pages 137–146.
    • Chapter 11, “Feminism and the Ethics of Care,” pages 147–158.
    • Chapter 12, “Virtue Ethics,” pages 159–174.
    • Chapter 13, “What Would a Satisfactory Moral Theory Be Like?,” pages 175–184.

Use the Capella University Library to read the following:

Learning Components

This activity will help you achieve the following learning components:

    • Explore the major categories of ethical theory.
    • Explain the role of ethical theory in guiding business decisions in a global environment.
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[u04d1] Unit 04 Discussion 1

Application of Theory

In the first three units, you examined three major categories of ethical theory:

    • Consequentialism/utilitarianism.
    • Non-consequentialism.
    • Virtue theories.

In your post:

    • Describe an ethical business dilemma (from an article, a case study, or your own professional experience) in which a decision would be right using one theoretical framework, and& wrong if a different framework were to be applied.
    • Analyze the dilemma using two different ethical frameworks to arrive at two different solutions or decisions.
    • Explain how your analysis using each framework lead you to two diametrically opposed solutions.

Support your position with references to the unit readings and your own research. Be sure you follow current APA guidelines for citations and references.

Response Guidelines

Respond to the post of at least two of your peers. Use this discussion to share experiences and ideas. Ask questions, seek clarity, and offer your own perspective.