1) What are at least three takeaways from the Questions and Ethical Reflection video, which you think relate specifically to the readings for this module (ethical styles)? chapter 6 and 9. 
2) In what ways will you be more considerate of your own ethical practice now and in the future? Explain your reasoning.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3evx_oEMqg
Question B.
Complete the stress profile on page 131 (printed version; in chapter 6) of the Geuras & Garofalo (2011) course text.
Follow the instructions to identify your score. 
Think about your score (include it in the paper) and…
1). Reflect on your behavior “type” and how it might impact ways you approach ethical dilemmas and decision making.  Give an example.
2). What are the 5-6 “takeaways” from this course that you will continue to ponder over and digest into the future?  Give examples from the course materials. 
Another way to think about this question is:
What will stick with you; What did you learn from the course that you may not have thought about (before participating in this course), which you will integrate and apply in YOUR ethical behavior as a professional, into the future?
note; begining of chapter starts from page 127.CHAPTER 6
Who Am I?
Who Do I Want to Be?
What Do I Want?
Our journey thus far has taken us to the real world of public administration, the major
ethical schools of thought, the value of the uni ed ethical perspective, and the moral
aspects and implications of ve important cases. Now, in this chapter, before we move
to decision making, ethics exercises, and conclusions, we ask you to step back and
re ect on the connections among your principles, values, and character. We explore
questions concerning our identity as public servants and as citizens, our personal and
professional goals, and the place of trust, quality, and excellence in our careers. Our
overall intent is to contemplate the meaning and direction of our lives, to try to make
sense of our present and our future.
We begin by considering our lives and careers from a broad social perspective,
examining the relationship between our work and our integrity in the context of
dominant American values. We then move to our organizational lives and the link
between organizational and individual needs and requirements. We conclude with a
look at the particular environment of public administration and the interplay between
that environment and our autonomy, authenticity, and accountability as stewards of the
public interest and as moral human beings.
Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
HOPES AND DREAMS IN MODERN AMERICA
If you are like most Americans, you carry in your mind an image of the American
Dream, the good life, as passed on to you by your parents, your peers, the culture. Much
of your thinking about the good life may be focused on material growth and well-being:
home ownership, followed by a newer and bigger house, the annual vacation, perhaps
an SUV, physical and nancial security for both you and your children. If you are a
woman or a member of a minority group, you may aspire to economic equality, which
includes access to the same material success that the dominant culture celebrates. You,
like most Americans, tend to think in economic terms when, for example, you discuss
work, family, and ful llment with your colleagues or neighbors. But you, like many
Americans, men and women of all races and ethnicities, may also feel that, although
your work is meaningful, you still feel pressured, dissatis ed, and uncertain about how
it fits with the rest of your life.
Today, people worry about money, but they also worry about being worried. There is
a tension between the material side of our lives and the spiritual side. On some level, we
often wonder about our spiritual life, our moral nature, and we ask ourselves how we
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should live, how much we should work, how much money we need, what we are trying
to do in our lives.
Robert Wuthnow (1996) argues that the American Dream is a moral framework that
encourages people to work hard and to hope for rewards. But he also maintains that it is
about more than materialism, a high-paying job, a home in the suburbs, and
opportunities for your children. Although the “American Dream promotes the endless
pursuit of more prestigious careers and a more comfortable life” (3), it also “supplies
understandings about why one should work hard and about the value of money” (4). In
Wuthnow’s view, the American Dream supplies these understandings “in a way that
guards against money and work being taken as ends in themselves” (4). If Wuthnow is
right, then, despite the di culty of integrating moral considerations into economic life,
such considerations are implicit in everything we do. Indeed, Wuthnow believes that,
this di culty notwithstanding, “much of the moral strength embedded in the American
Dream remains intact” (5). To put this idea into the language of the uni ed ethic,
principles and values are not con ned to our personal or professional lives, but relate
directly and deeply to our overall purpose, character, and happiness.
Recognizing the inherent unity in our moral nature, however, is clearly not enough.
To adapt the moral strength of the American Dream to our economic striving requires us
to confront the powerful cultural imperatives that engulf us every day. This is no easy
task, for, as Wuthnow observes, “the advice we receive on all sides encourages us to
think in economic categories, rather than giving us ways to transcend these categories”
(8–9). Nonetheless, given our moral nature, it is possible to move beyond narrow
economic assumptions, including careerism, consumerism, and competitiveness, and
achieve some equilibrium between our material and spiritual sides.
The attainment of such equilibrium involves asking hard questions. It involves, for
example, questioning what we take for granted as natural, unchangeable, somehow
ordained. It involves wondering, to use economic terminology, how much our integrity
is worth, and whether it is worth sacri cing for the sake of a job or career. It involves
pondering the real significance of getting ahead, making it, being number one.
The point is that, although daily compromises and accommodations are necessary, a
balance in our lives between the material and the spiritual is equally necessary. There is
nothing ethically wrong with ambition, accomplishment, or even acquisition. The issue
is whether there are any limits to these things, and whether a high standard of living,
technological expansion, and creature comforts constitute the purpose of our lives. If, at
the end of our days, all we can point to are our possessions as the sum total of our time
on the planet, the answer will be depressingly obvious. The challenge, therefore, lies in
trying to align our economic aspirations with our spiritual needs.
We believe that many Americans are willing to try to meet this challenge, but there
are, predictably, many di erences of opinion as well as great confusion and uncertainty
about how to proceed. This is natural and not to be feared. Indeed, it is the essence of
freedom, which necessarily entails responsibility exercised through the political process.
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But, as a rst step, particularly given the evidence around us of environmental damage,
personal distress, and many other individual and social pathologies, it seems reasonable
to insist that moral discourse be taken seriously in whatever venue it may occur.
For example, instead of simplistic pronouncements about the need to bring values
back into our classrooms or to introduce values-based management into our
organizations, we must acknowledge the need for a rm and explicit moral foundation
for our personal as well as policy decisions and actions. As Wuthnow (1996) contends,
“The current crisis of values hinges on the simple fact that we have no basis on which to
make these choices. Calling for more attention to values is merely to identify the
problem. To move positively toward its resolution requires paying closer attention to
the way in which choices are actually made” (12). We suggest that the uni ed ethic—the
integration of principle, purpose, and character—provides a practical as well as moral
basis for making both the personal and collective choices that we all must make.
ORGANIZATIONAL LIFE
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Let us begin our consideration of organizational life by looking at your typical day. As
a manager, what do you do? How do you spend your time? What do you accomplish?
The answers to these questions, of course, depend on where you are in your
organization. But, according to a number of management studies, despite the di erences
across levels and positions within an organization, there are some common elements in
a manager’s typical day. For example, managers are leaders, even of, perhaps, small
numbers of people. Managers monitor behavior and information; they plan and allocate
resources; and they motivate, direct, and evaluate other individuals in the organization.
One of the things that managers do is spend a great deal of time in meetings. Yet, in
spite of the ink that has been spilled on complaining about meetings, they continue to
be the major vehicle for brainstorming and decision making. So it may not be meetings
as such that frequently evoke grumbling and groaning. Rather, it is the way that
meetings are organized and managed. The e ective manager has an agenda, knows
when and how much to contribute, and concludes the meeting with some concrete next
steps. But, then, you are probably already aware of the ner points of meeting
organization and management, and our purpose here is not to explore managerial
strategies and tactics. Instead, we wish to take a more personal look at your life in your
organization.
Take, for example, stress. Is your job lled with stress? Are you in a pressure cooker?
Are deadlines met? Is responsibility clear? If your answers to these questions are yes,
yes, no, seldom, or sometimes, and it all depends, then it may be time to pause and
re ect on the sources of the stress as well as the perplexity and uncertainty that
characterize your work setting.
For example, it may be worth spending a moment considering such concepts as role
con ict and role ambiguity. Management theorists tell us that role con ict refers to
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incompatible demands made on a person, and role ambiguity refers to a lack of clarity
as to the requirements and responsibilities of one’s job. Does any of this sound familiar
to you? If so, then you know that either or both of these role problems can be very
stressful and can lead to serious emotional and physical damage to the individual and
organization alike.
At the same time, we are by no means suggesting that a stress-free work environment
is either possible or desirable. The essential point is that, as Hans Selye (1974), the
premier stress researcher, has said, stress may be good or bad. It depends on the sources
of stress, the circumstances under which it is experienced, and how we manage it.
According to Selye, we respond to stress in di erent ways. What may be stressful for
you may not be stressful for someone else, and vice versa. So it is important to be able
to recognize what makes you feel stressed or, more accurately, distressed, what the signs
of your distress may be, and, most of all, what can be done to reduce your stress levels.
We believe that attention to stressors and awareness of appropriate stress-reduction
techniques are part of knowing who you are, who you want to be, and what you want.
For example, we are all familiar with Type A and Type B behaviors. We know that the
Type A pattern includes intense desire to achieve, competitiveness, involvement in
many projects, and high levels of mental and physical activity. Type B, on the other
hand, suggests a more relaxed or laid-back style, a more measured approach to personal
and professional pressures and responsibilities. Which type are you?
Are you a workaholic? Do you often experience information overload? Are you
worried about burnout? Fortunately, whether you tend to Type A or Type B, techniques
are available to help you identify your behavioral patterns, to re ect on your personal
and professional goals, and to improve the quality of your life.
Whether Type A or B, for example, you can bene t from greater awareness of how
you react to di erent circumstances. You can determine the type of manager you are, as
well. If you are concerned with detail, you probably are a ected by time pressures and
information overload; if you are a big-picture person, your stress tends to originate in
role con ict or role ambiguity. The point is that if you know what causes you distress, if
you understand your work setting more clearly, then you will be better able to
anticipate problems, develop and use your support system, and integrate your work and
your life more effectively.
Organizations, like individuals, experience stress or the consequences of stress.
Managers recognize that stress among employees can decrease productivity, increase
the costs of health insurance, and contribute to excessive absenteeism and turnover. As a
result, many organizations, at least larger ones, now o er employee assistance
programs that deal with drug, alcohol, and tobacco problems, weight control, exercise,
nutrition, and psychological counseling. The benefits from such programs are clear.
To help you consider your own behavior patterns, we conclude this section with the
following stress pro le that is intended to measure Type A behavior. Answer the ten
questions with: A: almost always true; B: often true; C: seldom true; D: almost never true
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(Girdano and Everly, 1979).
1. I hate to wait in lines.
2. I often find myself racing against the clock to save time.
3. I become upset if I think something is taking too long.
4. When under pressure, I tend to lose my temper.
5. My friends tell me that I tend to get irritated easily.
6. I seldom like to do anything unless I can make it competitive.
7. When something needs to be done, I’m the
may still need to be worked out.
rst to begin, even though the details
8. When I make a mistake, it is usually because I’ve rushed into something without
giving it enough thought and planning.
9. Whenever possible, I will try to do two things at once, like eating while working, or
planning while driving or bathing.
10. I find myself feeling guilty when I am not actively working on something.
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Scoring: A = 4; B = 3; C = 2; D = 1. If your total score is 26 or more, then you tend
toward Type A behavior.
We believe that taking a personal inventory is a key step in developing and
maintaining a ful lling personal and professional life. Insight into your own
personality, character, and behavior is essential to understanding what motivates you,
excites you, touches you. It helps you to formulate answers to questions concerning the
direction and meaning of your life, to identify e ective strategies for planning how to
integrate your life and your work, and to establish ways to monitor and measure your
movement toward your goals.
In our judgment, a fundamental element in our personal inventory is our identity as
moral agents and as citizens, for, just as we experience mental or physical stress in our
organizations, so do we experience moral stress, the discomfort we feel when we know
things are not right, when we try to rationalize our way out of a morally distressing
situation. Getting a handle on our moral stress is as vital as ensuring that we get enough
exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition.
An essential rst step in getting a handle on our moral stress is to have in hand a
clear and compelling basis for analyzing and assessing moral challenges, and for
deciding and acting in morally legitimate ways. Recall Wuthnow’s (1996) argument that
the current crisis of values relates to the absence of a basis for making moral choices
and that we must focus on the ways in which choices are actually made. So if you wish
to live a moral life in both the personal and professional spheres, you need to go beyond
the super cial and simplistic and consider the subtleties and nuances of morally
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grounded thought and action. As we have asserted a number of times, our prescription
for treating the present moral anemia is the uni ed ethic, the holistic view that connects
what you believe, what you want, and who you are.
Tom Morris (1997) asks what life would be like if Aristotle ran General Motors. Or, to
put it more broadly, how would we fare as individuals who spend much of our time in
bureaucratic organizations if certain philosophical verities and moral virtues were
clearly and consciously acknowledged? What qualities of life would be emphasized?
How would our identity as moral beings be defined?
Morris suggests that there are four dimensions of human experience—intellectual,
aesthetic, moral, and spiritual—and four corresponding foundations of human
excellence—truth, beauty, goodness, and unity. These are the qualities of our personal
and professional lives that must be nurtured if we are to achieve the spiritual health that
is at the heart of ethics. These are the keystones of trust and collaboration that are
central to moral maturity. If, as Morris maintains, ethics is about spiritually healthy
people in socially harmonious relationships, then we ignore the dimensions of human
experience and the foundations of human excellence at our peril. We, in e ect, turn our
souls over to the highest bidder.
None of this denotes, however, that we should neglect our self-interest. Indeed,
implicit in even the seemingly sel sh question often asked about ethics—“What’s in it
for me?”—are other questions that ultimately link our self-interest to our identity and
spirit. Morris (1997) suggests that when people ask, “What’s in it for me?”, they mean,
“How will it a ect my immediate physical safety?” or, “What sort of impact will it have
on my foreseeable personal comfort?” or, “What will it do for my long-term nancial
security?” But the key question, in the end, is, “How will it a ect my ultimate personal
fulfillment?”
People are understandably interested in how their moral identity ties into other facets
of their lives, and, again, we contend that the uni ed ethic provides the philosophical
foundation for answering that question. It suggests that the moral life is inseparable
from the rest of what we think, decide, and do. As Morris says, although you may wear
one hat at work and another at home, you still wear them on the same head.
MORAL STRESS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
We described and critiqued the real world of public administration in Chapters 1 and
5. You recall that, in our view, when it comes to ethics, the real world tends to focus on
obedience, or compliance with laws and regulations, and you recall that we contend
that such a position fails on several grounds, including its diminution of our identity as
rational and autonomous persons able and willing to exercise judgment and
responsibility.
As Morris (1997) observes, ethics is not about staying out of trouble or avoiding
problems. Instead, it is about creating strength in an individual, a family, a community,
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and relationships. Indeed, ethics cannot be about rule-following, since there are never
enough rules to cover every conceivable situation; ethics-as-rules can encourage an
exception or loophole mentality; rules can con ict; and rules need interpretation, which
must come from somewhere beyond the rules. Thus, the primacy of the unified ethic.
In this context, we now return to the concept of moral stress in the public
administration environment. Our aim is to identify the sources of moral stress, its e ects
on the individual bureaucrat, possible resolutions of moral stress (including the
demarcation of what we call the Type E personality), and the need for collaborative as
well as individual moral behavior. In our view, as noted earlier, moral stress is as
important as mental and physical stress and, therefore, requires institutional networks
and support systems similar to employee assistance programs.
We should not expect members of an organization to live the moral life alone. Since,
as citizens and employees, we live in communities, it is essential that the organizations
where we spend so much of our time become moral communities, able to nurture and
sustain moral public servants who are clear about their convictions and commitments
and courageous enough to act on them.
Sources of Moral Stress
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Moral stress, we believe, is endemic in the public service. Even the most narcotized
bureaucrat cannot fail to experience moral discomfort on the job. On the most basic
level of human reason and responsibility, moral quandaries cannot be denied. At the
same time, however, organizational structures and cultures, expectations and reward
systems, often tend to ignore or invalidate moral stress, leaving con icted individuals
with a Hobson’s choice: silence or whistle-blowing. There is little, if any,
acknowledgment of the value of creating moral systems, as well as technical or
management systems, that can contribute to the promotion of moral community within
the organization. The old admonition that “you must go along to get along” captures the
idea here.
How can this distortion of our moral nature be explained, let alone justi ed? To try to
answer this question, let us look at what some scholars have said and check it against
our own experience. One argument is that the bureaucracy takes away the individual’s
capacity to judge right and wrong. Our personality is replaced by our function or our
role. The organization becomes our conscience and tells us what is real. We are
transformed into morally neutral, and even morally neutered, instruments of the
bureaucracy. “Bureaucrats are asked to become people without conscience; judgments as
to right and wrong are to be left to the supervisor, the manager, or the organization as
a whole. Those who submit become people without heart; not only does their sense of
moral judgment atrophy but so do their feelings for others” (Hummel 1994, 112). This
parallels the obedience or compliance orientation described earlier.
Dennis Thompson (1985) argues that “the ethic of neutrality” and “the ethic of
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structure” characterize the bureaucracy. The public administrator is expected to conform
to the traditional ideal of serving as an instrument of legislative will, exercising
independent judgment on only technical matters. Responsibility is di use;
accountability is vested in the hierarchy. Dissent desists as soon as an organizational
position is adopted. Otherwise, resignation is required.
So we see that Hummel and Thompson attribute much of the bureaucrat’s moral
passivity to organizational structure and culture. Douglas Morgan and Henry Kass
(1993) extend this line of reasoning and argue that public administration has drifted
from conventional management ideology to ambiguous administrative practice that
includes policy making and ethical perplexity. Committed to maximizing e ciency and
e ectiveness, public administrators often complain about the impediments that obstruct
the achievement of e cient and e ective practice, impediments such as the growing
volume of regulations, “the emergence of more participative management styles, courtmandated due process requirements, various forms of citizen participation, laborious
bidding and procurement procedures, the making of decisions based on what ‘the
lawyers will say,’” among others (180–181). Morgan and Kass quote an administrator as
stating “that it is a matter of ‘seeing how much e ciency you can get away with’”
(181).
Nonetheless, administrators invoke the management ideology of control and e cient
allocation of resources “to help them rationalize a very messy situation in which they
must act.” Messiness refers to “a situation in which they are expected to act” but “do not
know what is wanted or even what the issue is.” Compounding this messiness are
interest group competition, technological change, and public opinion that “all conspire
to make the situation both ambiguous and equivocal.”
Thus, traditional management ideology provides a rationale and a set of techniques
for acting. As a rationale, it “creates a moral obligation for the administrator ‘to make
things work.’” As technique, “it allows administrators legitimately to insert themselves
(or be inserted by political superiors) into the decision making process in the name of
technical rationality.” The reality, however, is that once an administrator is in the loop,
the commitment to making things work goes well beyond the technical. Making things
work “may require mediating con ict, tempering public passions, or modifying illconceived or precipitous action.” As a result, administrators “ nd themselves drifting
into a management setting with a moral framework that is ill-suited to the task at hand”
(Morgan and Kass 181).
To put this situation into our terms, administrators continually confront moral stress.
The pressure they are under to make things work is relentless as they cope with
pluralism—the array of competing interests that characterize American politics and
policy making. They must balance these interests and also facilitate consensus. They
must manage process and do a great deal of stroking to ensure fairness and access, both
in the present and the future.
Morgan and Kass (1993) contend that this aspect of the public administrator’s life is
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the second stage of their odyssey toward role reversal, by which they mean that public
administrators have shifted from being on tap to being on top, from carrying out the
dictates of political leaders to developing as well as implementing policy. In the rst
stage, as we noted, the administrator is committed to the established management
values of e ciency and e ectiveness. In the second stage, this straightforward
commitment “gives way to the realities of uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity that
undergird much of the administrative landscape.” Pluralist politics emerges “as a
legitimate moral claim that competes on equal grounds with administrative e ciency.”
Finally, stage three represents a move “toward the language of the public interest to
help resolve moral dilemmas that cannot be accommodated successfully by a
commitment either to efficient management or to pluralist politics” (179).
The public interest, however, is itself uncertain and ambiguous, and lends itself to
multiple interpretations. It may be used to a rm underlying community values or the
constitutional values of freedom, equality, and property. It may be used “to recognize
collective interests over the partial group interests within the community.” An example
of such a collective interest might be those who are unrepresented by interest groups.
“Finally, the public interest sometimes is used to express an obligation by administrators
to future generations.” In any event, administrators in the public service environment
often “tend to view themselves as the lonely guardians of the larger public interest”
(184).
Morgan and Kass (1993) claim that the odyssey of the American administrative
experience has left administrators with a crisis of legitimacy. Their original moral
obligation to execute the will of the people has been enlarged to embrace and to reject
aspects of pluralist politics. They are expected both to engage in interest advocacy and
to ameliorate the worst excesses of pluralism. Somehow, as mediators, they are to
protect the public interest and constitutional values. In the end, they are left “with a set
of multiple and con icting moral obligations without any kind of ordering framework”
(185) and, in the process, roles have been reversed: appointed public administrators
have assumed responsibility for policy, while elected o cials frequently play an
essentially ceremonial role. But there is no language to justify what administrators are
called upon to do on a daily basis. When public administrators do take on ethical
obligations outside of conventional management, they may be criticized for usurping the
rights of elected o cials, again raising the question of what justi es the administrator’s
role in democratic governance.
Morgan and Kass (1993) conclude that, although e ciency and e ectiveness have
been seen as in con ict with democratic control, public administrators do not
necessarily see things in this way. Making things work encompasses e ciency and
e ectiveness but also responsiveness, accountability, and equity. Democratic
government, therefore, is not a series of tradeo s but, rather, a constellation of values
that must be balanced and accommodated with judgment and responsibility. E ciency
and accountability are both necessary for a community of ordered liberty, and public
administrators are the primary agents of this trust. Finally, Morgan and Kass maintain
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that career administrators need a “moral framework that enables them to answer the
question they face on a daily basis: By what right can/should I play such an active role
in the activities of democratic governance?” (187). We suggest that this question, as well
as the inevitable and daily ethical dilemmas, imply a profound and continuing source of
moral stress.
Reducing Moral Stress
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Moral stress, like other forms of stress, is experienced every day by public
administrators. Unlike other forms of stress, however, moral stress is seldom
acknowledged. It is analogous to the various diseases that are referred to as “silent
killers.” Yet, like those diseases, it is real and relentless and, left unattended, will
ultimately take its toll. At the same time, as we said earlier, a stress-free environment is
neither possible nor desirable. Moral stress, like physical or mental stress, is inevitable.
The question is how we respond to it and what support is available to us as we try to
integrate our moral and professional responsibilities.
We argued that moral stress ows from the crisis of legitimacy in public
administration, daily ethical quandaries, and organizational neglect of moral issues. We
also asked you to check these ideas against your own experience. For example, do you,
as a public administrator, experience anxiety or uncertainty about the absence of
constitutional legitimacy for your role in governance? Have you experienced the role
reversal that Morgan and Kass describe? Does your organization try to rob you of your
conscience? Are you expected to be a moral cripple?
If your answer to these questions is yes, or sometimes yes, then your experience
comports with our belief that moral stress is inherent in administrative life. But, more
important, if your answer is yes, then the moral stress you have felt also supports our
position that, despite possible constitutional and cultural de ciencies related to public
administration, administrators, like human beings in general, retain their moral
identity. For example, regardless of organizational attempts, conscious or otherwise, to
assault or suppress our moral sense, most of us try to protect it, even if only privately or
partially, as we cope with the ethical challenges in both our personal and professional
lives. We believe that acknowledgment of our ineradicable moral sense is the rst step
toward reducing and resolving moral stress.
The rest of our strategy for the reduction and resolution of moral stress can be divided
into three levels—individual, organizational, and societal—which sometimes overlap.
For example, on all three levels, an important ingredient is an awareness of the moral
strength and complexity of the American Dream. As we saw earlier, this strength and
complexity correspond directly with the uni ed ethic as well as the relationship between
our personal and professional lives and our principles, purposes, and character.
Together, this strength and complexity provide, respectively, a social context that
shapes our hopes and dreams and a clear and compelling basis for making moral
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choices.
On the individual level, our aim is to encourage the cultivation of what we call the
“Type E personality,” the combination of the best of Type A and Type B behaviors
anchored to a clear and consistent ethical foundation. As we noted earlier, there is
nothing ethically wrong with ambition, accomplishment, or acquisition. The question
concerns their scope and substance, along with the extent to which they are grounded in
justi able moral choices. The Type E personality is achievement-oriented, competitive,
and intense, as well as relaxed, self-aware, and centered. But, undergirding it all, is a
depth of moral maturity that fosters restraint and moderation, the fundamental keys to
character. In our estimation, developing and sustaining a Type E personality is the
second step in reducing and resolving moral stress.
The third step in dealing with moral stress is taken at the organizational level. Again,
just as many organizations have recognized the high costs of physical and emotional
stress, they are advised to recognize the costs of moral stress. Indeed, we believe it is
plausible to assume that what sometimes is presented as physical or emotional stress
may well be moral stress in disguise. Like other forms of stress, moral stress can lead to
poor concentration, fatigue, absenteeism, chronic illness, and feelings of burnout that,
in turn, contribute to declines in productivity, quality, and stability. The answer to this
problem, we believe, has several aspects, some of which we have alluded to in earlier
discussions: (1) acknowledgment of the moral dimensions of organizational life; (2)
appropriate responses to these dimensions, such as broad-based cultural change,
including training grounded in the uni ed ethic; and (3) inclusion of moral stress among
the conditions requiring or deserving the services of an employee assistance program.
The last or societal level for the reduction and resolution of moral stress implies
political and organizational change that relates to the place and perception of public
administration in American culture. Bureaucracy, for example, would be seen as an
asset rather than a liability, and bureaucrat-bashing would no longer be accepted as a
viable electoral tactic. Young people would aspire to public service, for working in
government would be an honorable profession, a way to serve the public interest,
advance our democracy, and nurture moral discourse and community. Public
administrators would be able, finally, to hold their heads high.
Moving toward such political and organizational change involves formidable
challenges and, once again, all three levels of our strategy for reducing and resolving
moral stress. Central to this change is political and administrative leadership at all
levels of government. Elected and appointed o cials alike are the key players in
altering cultural perceptions of public administration and administrators. They are the
ones, for example, able to question seriously simplistic prescriptions for administrative
reform such as privatization, reinvention, and new public management. They are the
ones in a position to separate fact from ction and to help citizens understand and
evaluate the reality of public policies, programs, and processes. Whether the impetus or
incentive is there for such public-spirited initiatives, however, is open to question.
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Nevertheless, the magnitude of such change notwithstanding, action can be taken at
both the individual and organizational levels to deal with moral stress and, in the
process, to enliven and enrich the public service. For example, through the judicious use
of their leadership and discretion, public administrators can introduce a new direction
and determination toward transforming their organizations, bureaus, divisions, and
departments into morally mature and responsible places, where honorable men and
women perform honorable work, and where trust and collaboration are nourished and
cherished in the true spirit of public service.
Public administrators can, in keeping with the uni ed ethic, habitually raise questions
about the principles at stake in any given decision situation, how those principles relate
to their character, and what the long-term implications of their decision might be. If,
however, these sentiments seem saccharine or surreal, then we invite you to consider the
alternative which, essentially, is the real world that we addressed earlier, and to ask
yourself whether you are satis ed and wish to continue living there. If your answer is at
least a quali ed no, then further re ection on our recommendations may be worth your
time.
In this chapter, we tried to identify ways to help you answer the questions of who
you are, who you want to be, and what you want. We noted that our dominant
national values, embodied in the American Dream, combine material and moral
aspirations. We also noted that the continuing challenge that we all face is how to
integrate the two, and we suggested that the uni ed ethic is relevant in this regard.
Our principles and values are embedded in our personal and professional pursuits
and underlie our sense of purpose, our character, and our happiness. More
speci cally, the uni ed ethic is especially relevant in our secular, commercial
culture, where consumerism, careerism, and competitiveness are celebrated, and
where our spiritual and ethical needs are effectively privatized.
On administrative life, we pointed out that the common practices of meeting,
motivating, monitoring, and, measuring, among others, often involve con icting
and ambiguous roles which, in turn, can produce stress. We argued that
understanding how you deal with stress and how stress can be reduced is essential
to both your emotional and physical health. Along these lines, we recommended
that you consider taking a periodic personal inventory as a way to foster a ful lling
personal and professional life, and we suggested that our moral identity as public
administrators is a fundamental feature of this inventory. In our judgment, moral
stress, like emotional or physical stress, must be acknowledged and attended to if
we are to establish and maintain our personal and professional equilibrium.
Our personal and professional equilibrium is also strengthened when we
acknowledge the value of the uni ed ethic, for it provides a basis for our moral
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choices and for integration of the dimensions of human experience and foundations
of human excellence. Here, you recall, we refer, respectively, to the intellectual,
aesthetic, moral, and spiritual dimensions and to the foundations of truth, beauty,
goodness, and unity. At the same time, however, we are not trying to nominate
anyone for sainthood. Self-interest, for example, is as intrinsic to human nature as
other, perhaps nobler, qualities. But it is only one among many qualities, rather
than the sum total of our character. The point, in any case, is to try to enlarge, not
shrink, our souls and spirits, and to do so, particularly at work, involves dealing
with moral stress and moving toward developing a Type E personality.
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In trying to understand where public administrators’ moral stress comes from, we
identi ed three sources: (1) the lack of legitimacy in our constitutional order; (2)
organizational structure and culture; and (3) daily ethical dilemmas. Public
administrators are pulled or pushed into policy making, mediation, and
negotiation, for example, without o cial sanction; thus, the role reversal between
elected o cials and appointed administrators. Bureaucracies tend to neglect the
moral gray areas and emphasize legalisms, a practice that provides no opportunity
for the development of the skills required to address the daily ethical dilemmas in
the administrative environment. Ambiguity and complexity are the order of the day,
and even retreat to the public interest as a moral lodestar proves di cult, since it,
too, tends to be elusive and even ephemeral. In the end, then, public administrators
might nd themselves wondering who they are, who they want to be, and what
they want.
Nonetheless, despite the unwritten or unspoken pressures to surrender or suppress
our moral identity, we somehow manage to retain it. We may often stumble and
fall, but deep down, we are moral beings. We are capable of understanding and
experiencing our moral nature—the connection between our principles, purposes,
and character—and, despite our cynicism and real-world ennui, we desire to carry
our moral weight. But to do so, we need a strategy, a conscious plan, for moral
engagement. Accordingly, we proposed a three-part approach—individual,
organizational, and societal—the goal of which is to reduce and resolve the moral
stress that we feel as long as we are alive.
Finally, we return to the idea that our moral lives are lived in community and
relationships. We are not moral hermits but moral collaborators. Our identity as
moral citizens is clearly and consistently implicated in the moral identity of others,
and denial of our moral identity or theirs is ultimately impossible. As members of
our communities, we are obligated to nurture our moral capacity, to collaborate,
and to trust our fellow travelers, regardless of who we are, what status we enjoy, or
where we sit in the conference room.
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CHAPTER 8
Problems That Might
Arise and How to
Analyze Them
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In this chapter, we will examine hypothetical cases that involve ethical problems. In
each case, we will consider di erent possible ethical reasoning leading to di erent
solutions based upon the list of ethical questions that we have already devised and used
in previous chapters. You will then be asked to consider how you would attempt to
resolve the problem. Your resolution need not be identical to any of those that were
considered, because you may have a better idea.
Some, if not all, of the cases may have no clear resolution. Ethical ambiguity is a fact
of organizational life. Consequently, it is impossible to make an unquestionably correct
ethical decision every time. But ethical ambiguity does not excuse people from making
di cult ethical decisions thoughtfully. Right, wrong, or uncertain, decisions must be
made and must be founded on good reasons. The most that one can ask of a decision
maker is to have such reasons. We ask neither more nor less in this chapter.
When one has made a decision on the basis of a strong reasoning process, he or she
can have con dence in a job well done. Such con dence cannot remove moral stress
completely but can alleviate it signi cantly. Furthermore, a good reasoning process
permits decision makers to explain their decisions to others, not only to protect
themselves from criticism, but also to edify the moral thinking of the organization to
whom they must answer.
We will discuss the teleological, deontological, virtue-theory, and intuitionist aspects
of the cases, but we will examine intuitions least. By their nature as intuitions, they
cannot be analyzed rationally. If they could be analyzed in a way that would make
sense of them ethically, they would be reduced to some other ethical theory, i.e., the
theory by means of which they are analyzed. But we do not mean to imply that
intuitions are unimportant because, as we indicated in Chapter 3, they are aspects of the
uni ed ethic. They can be very important, but they are simply the least easily given to
rational analysis.
We consider your ethical intuitions so important that we suggest that you consult
them twice concerning each of the following cases: once immediately after reading the
case and a second time after reading and contemplating the analysis that follows the
case. Notice any difference that occurs in your intuitions before and after analysis.
A QUESTIONABLE HIRE
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Felicia has been working for
ve years as an accountant at the o ce of the state
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comptroller and has been assigned to a search committee to hire a new colleague.
According to the o ce regulations, which are approved by the state legislature, all
committee meetings are to be kept strictly con dential. No member of the committee is
allowed to discuss the proceedings of the committee or the les of the candidates with
anyone outside of the committee until the committee has completed its work and sent its
ranked list of three approved candidates to the office of the director. Even then, only the
committee chair is permitted to discuss the proceedings and can divulge them only to
authorized personnel. The penalty for violating this policy could range from censure for
unethical behavior to dismissal for invasion of privacy or insubordination. The policy
has been followed strictly in all the years in which Felicia has worked for the
organization.
An African American candidate named Anne, whose academic record and work
experience are outstanding, is Felicia’s clear favorite. Anne is one of ve chosen to be
interviewed, and her performance at the interview con rms Felicia’s high opinion of
her. She is poised, confident, articulate, and current in her knowledge of the profession.
After all ve candidates have been interviewed, Felicia is surprised to discover that in
a “test vote,” Anne is not among the three nalists. When Felicia asks the other six
members of the committee why they did not support Anne, the chair replies that Anne’s
race is a problem. While there is no reason to believe that the committee members are
personally racially biased, they voted against her because the division already has
enough African Americans, especially African American women, and needs more
Hispanics and Native Americans. With the exception of Felicia, the others unanimously
rank the top candidate as Xavier, a Hispanic candidate from East Los Angeles. Their
second choice is Sylvia, a Native American who spent the rst 14 years of her life on a
reservation in Oklahoma. Their third choice is Murphy, who is independently wealthy,
grew up in the a uent suburb of Pelham, New York, and technically quali es as a
Native American, but has no personal ethnic or social ties to any Native American
community. While all three candidates have good credentials, the committee members
agree that none is as impressive as Anne. With the exception of Felicia, they also agree,
however, that Anne would be “superfluous.”
During the proceedings, it becomes clear to Felicia that the other six committee
members have discussed the case among themselves outside of committee meetings,
when she was not present. The six commonly socialize after work on Fridays at a local
pub, where they discussed the hire. There is no rule prohibiting such meetings, so long as
the discussion remains private, and no one outside of the committee is apprised of any
of its negotiations. By agreeing unanimously among themselves, they virtually
eliminated Felicia’s voting power.
After the preliminary vote and the ensuing discussion, the committee takes its nal
vote. It is 6 to 1 in favor of the slate of Xavier, Sylvia, and Murphy.
Felicia is indignant but does not know what to do. She seeks advice from her parish
priest, from whom she demands a promise of con dentiality, her husband Muraldo, and
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her very close friend Bethea. After consulting with them all, she decides to discuss the
matter with her division director, Alma.
After listening to Felicia’s complaint, Alma indicates that she will accept the
committee’s selections. Alma admits that she has been under considerable pressure to
hire members of protected groups in proper proportion. Her prior record has been very
suspect. In managerial positions in both private business and the public sector, she made
more than fty hires, all of whom were white males. Her supervisors have been
watching her very carefully to ensure that she shows no biases.
The job is o ered to Xavier, but he refuses it. He has learned that his ethnic
background was a factor in his hiring, and he is adamantly opposed, on philosophical
grounds, to affirmative action or any other program that suggests preferential treatment
for any group. No one knows how Xavier learned that he bene ted from such a policy,
but Felicia discovers that Xavier is the son of her priest’s half sister Gina. The position
eventually falls to the third choice, Murphy, because the second choice, Sylvia, nds a
better position elsewhere.
Analysis
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The case suggests many ethical questions. Was Anne the victim of unfair hiring
practices? Was the policy of con dentiality among the committee members
appropriate? Did Felicia violate that policy, and, if she did, was her violation excusable?
Was it appropriate for six members of the committee to discuss the hire without Felicia
present? Were Alma’s motives for accepting the committee’s decision ethical? There
remains also the question of whether the priest violated con dentiality, but since he is
not a public administrator, we will not dwell on his actions.
Nevertheless, the reasons that Xavier gave for refusing the position suggest some
important ethical issues. The rst is the large question of whether hiring to achieve
racial, ethnic, or sexual equity is appropriate. However, that may be too large an issue
to discuss here. But there is also the issue of whether a well-intended policy should be
used to bene t a person who, while a member of a protected group, has little in
common with it or its members. Also, one might ask whether it is ethical to hire
someone without informing the person of hiring factors he or she might nd morally
objectionable.
Before analyzing the ethical nature of the case, let us review the list of questions that
we devised in Chapter 3:
Teleology:
What are the consequences of my action?
What are the long-term effects of my action?
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Does my action promote the greatest happiness?
Deontology:
What principle applies in this case?
Can this principle be applied consistently in this case and in all similar cases?
Can this principle be considered as a possible universal principle of behavior?
Which course of action best exemplifies the ideal of treating all people as ends in themselves?
Which course of action best exempli es and most fully promotes the ideal of a society of free, responsible people
whose ends promote each other rather than conflict with each other?
Intuitionism:
What does my conscience tell me about this?
Do I feel good about this action?
Virtue theory:
What character traits does this action express?
What effect will this action have on my character?
What effect will this action have on the character of other people?
Is this the action of a person whose character I would admire?
While we encourage you to ask all these questions, for the sake of brevity, we will
examine the issues more generally on the basis of the approaches of teleology,
deontology, intuitionism, and virtue theory.
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Was the Policy of Confidentiality among the Committee Members Appropriate?
Committee members were forbidden from discussing their proceedings among
unauthorized people outside of the committee. There are numerous reasons for such a
policy. From a teleological perspective, such a policy would encourage committee
members to speak more frankly without fear that their words might be conveyed, either
accurately or distortedly, to applicants or to people with interest in their success. The
policy also protects the interests of applicants who may prefer that their quali cations
not be discussed indiscriminately. From a deontological perspective, one might argue
that respect for individuals requires that their privacy be honored through a policy of
con dentiality. From the standpoint of virtue theory, the policy of con dentiality
discourages gossip and encourages respect for people’s privacy.
But while there are ample reasons for such a policy, there are also reasons for limiting
it. If the committee were to be blatantly racist or otherwise unfair in its deliberations, it
should be exposed. One might also question whether the organization has the moral
authority to bind someone to secrecy. Surely a legal proceeding, such as a discrimination
lawsuit, would be justi ed in abridging the con dentiality. Therefore, since the
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con dentiality is not absolute, one might consider abridging it for purely moral rather
than legal grounds.
Furthermore, the moral and legal issues may become interwoven. If someone were
aware of being a victim of racist hiring practices, he or she could take the complaint to
court. But if the racist nature of the procedure were protected by the con dentiality
policy, there would be no way of knowing that a lawsuit was in order. In such a case,
only a moral decision to defy confidentiality would enable justice to be done.
The case of Anne may not have been so blatant as to justify a breach of
confidentiality. Felicia did, however, violate the policy, though in a limited way. To seek
advice, she spoke to people who she assumed would not betray her con dentiality.
Ironically, she expected them to honor her secrecy in her dishonoring of the committee’s
secrecy. Nevertheless, she cannot be accused of openly and indiscreetly revealing
committee secrets to the general public. She spoke to a member of the clergy, whose
right to retain con dentiality is supported by law, to her husband, who is in a special
relation to her by virtue of the marital relationship, and a close friend whom she could
fully expect to keep the information private. In no case did she reveal the privileged
information in a wanton manner, but she did so to seek advice on a problem.
In your opinion, was Felicia justi ed? Why or why not? Are your reasons based on
teleology, deontology, virtue theory, intuition, or a combination?
Another problem with con dentiality involves the candidates themselves. It would
seem only fair to inform them of factors that in uenced their success or failure. In
particular, Xavier objected to any hiring practice that favored him on the basis of
ethnicity. If he had not learned in some mysterious way that he had been chosen
because of his ethnic background, he would have chosen to accept a position under
conditions that he found o ensive. Was it fair to him to leave him ignorant concerning
an issue of importance to him? Do the needs of the organization outweigh his interest in
knowing that ethnicity was a factor?
Did the Committee Act in Good Faith?
Even if one recognizes the validity of the con dentiality policy, there remains the
question of whether it was abused. There are strong moral reasons for having such a
policy, but its purpose is not that of protecting committee members from criticism for
wrongful acts. Did the committee do anything wrong?
We will proceed under the assumption that the a rmative action policy that the
committee used was correct. Nevertheless, one might ask whether a good policy was
used in the wrong way. The intent of such a policy is to ensure fairness in hiring. The
committee appeared to be more concerned with attaining a desirable mix of minority
employees than with treating the applicants fairly.
But reasons can be given in support of the committee’s decision. They may argue that,
once the rule has been established on ethical grounds, whether they be based upon
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teleology, deontology, or any other theory, the job of the committee is merely to follow
the rule. Judges and juries are charged with properly applying laws rather than
adopting the legislative role of evaluating and creating them. Likewise, it may be
argued, the committee’s role is only to apply the policy rather than to attempt to
interpret its moral intent. Furthermore, it may be argued that the intent of the
committee members is irrelevant. The policy is intended to produce a fair result, and
such a result was attained.
On the other hand, one might argue that the committee’s intent was morally
signi cant. Even if the members were “playing by the rules” and were therefore not
subject to penalties imposed by the organization, their own moral characters are at
issue, as virtue theory would maintain. In simply following the rule, they appear to
have attempted to exempt themselves from moral decision making, which they left
entirely to the rule makers. But their attempt may not have been successful, at least
from a moral standpoint, because ignoring the intent of a principle can result in its
abuse. For example, speed limits are not intended to impede people who are rushing
injured friends to a hospital; the right of free speech was not intended to provide people
with the opportunity for slander; and the a rmative action policies used by the
committee were not intended to help people such as Murphy, who has no serious ties to
the ethnic community that he was chosen to represent.
From a deontological perspective, to act as a mere unthinking rule follower is to
behave below the level of a human being. The de ning feature of a human being is
rationality, and the highest human aim is to serve morality. If the members of the
committee reduced themselves to automatic rule followers, they negated their most
noble human functions. One does not render those functions dormant when one checks
into work.
In your opinion, did the committee apply the a rmative action policy properly? If
not, how would you have applied the policy? In general, do people in your place of
work interpret rules before applying them or apply them without using any discretion?
Did the committee act in bad faith in any other of its actions? For example, was its
deliberation without Felicia present appropriate, even if it violated no explicit rules?
General Consideration of Procedure
While numerous speci c issues are involved in this case, some of which we have
already discussed, it might be helpful to examine the entire procedure in general to
determine how it might have been improved, and perhaps to draw some lessons for
one’s own organization. As we indicated earlier, we may apply the entire list of
questions that we have previously considered—feel free to do so if you prefer—but it
would be simpler to consider the list in abbreviated form, applying general questions
from each of the four ethical theories from which the list is drawn.
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Teleology:
Was the procedure in the long-term best interests of the people involved? Of the organization? Of society in general?
Deontology:
Was the procedure conducted under valid, universal principles? Were people used only as means, or were they also
considered as ends in themselves?
Virtue theory:
Was the procedure conducive to the development of good character traits among the participants?
Intuitionism:
When you have considered all aspects of the procedure, what feelings do you have concerning it?
It might be helpful to write a brief summary of your thoughts on the case, together
with an examination of its similarities and di erences from other cases that you have
encountered. The other cases need not be super cially similar and may not even involve
hiring or personnel decisions, but they might involve some of the deeper issues and
principles at work in this case.
Might this decision have had any e ect on the moral character or virtue of those who
participated, actively or passively, in it? When all things are considered, what course of
action would you “feel” best about (i.e., would accord best with your moral intuitions)?
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TAKING A LEAVE OR TAKING LEAVE?
The following example is adapted, with signi cant revision, from an article by
Maureen Moakley and Kathryn Power (1996).
Milo was a longtime tenured professor of history at a state university. Despite his
comfortable professional position, he applied for and received a comparable position at
a nearby, more prestigious private institution, which o ered him a signi cantly higher
salary. Milo also had an important personal reason for moving. He had been living with
Flo, his colleague within the department, for two years. They wished to be married, but
the university had a rule prohibiting married couples from both having faculty
appointments within the same department. The new job would permit the couple to be
married, and since the two universities were near each other, they would not have to
move from their current dwelling.
Marguerite, the chair of the department, was also happy about the prospect of Milo’s
nding another job. She had been bothered by Milo and Flo’s living arrangement
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because it obviously violated the intent of the nepotism rule. She knew that the sole
reason that they were not married was their employment status. Furthermore,
Marguerite shared the concern of other department members that, in faculty meetings,
Milo and Flo always voted the same way on every issue. Marguerite also looked forward
to replacing Milo with a younger, more invigorated, and less expensive faculty member.
There was, however, a stumbling block. The institution to which that Milo wished to
move had not o ered him tenure, which is a virtual guarantee of lifetime employment.
He felt certain that he could earn tenure, but the possibility existed that he would not. If
he did not earn tenure within three years, he would be terminated. Since he already had
tenure at his current institution, the move involved considerable risk.
Milo had a possible escape hatch. His current university allowed faculty members to
take unpaid leaves of absence for up to three years. The purpose of the leave policy was
to enable faculty members to take time o , either to develop new talents or merely to
relax away from the job for a while. The institution could not a ord to give paid
sabbaticals, and the leave option was a substitute. However, in order to take a leave,
Milo would have to sign a statement promising to return to the institution for at least
one year after the leave was completed. The purpose of requiring such a promise was to
prevent faculty members from doing exactly what Milo intended to do, i.e., to use the
leave to advance one’s employment possibilities elsewhere.
No one had taken the promise very seriously in the past. It was unenforceable
because, if the employee chose not to return after the leave, the university could do
nothing in response. The ultimate punishment would be termination, but that was not
possible for someone who had already quit. Although no faculty members had ever
failed to return after a leave, several administrators had taken full advantage of the
opportunity. The previous vice president for academic a airs had been one such
administrator.
Milo refused to sign the promissory statement. Despite Marguerite’s assurance that the
statement was not truly binding, Milo continued to refuse merely because he considered
it dishonest to sign the statement when he had every intention of violating it.
Marguerite asked Cosmo, the new vice president for academic a airs, if he would allow
Milo the opportunity to take the leave without signing the promise, but Cosmo refused.
He noted that state law required Milo to sign the document before leave could be
granted.
After ruminating over the matter for several days, Milo relented and signed the
document although he had every intention of leaving permanently. The document was
sent to Cosmo for his signature, but he was reluctant to approve it. His previous
conversation with Marguerite left him unsure of Milo’s sincerity. Cosmo’s most
convenient option was to support the leave and thus virtually grant it to Milo. But
Cosmo’s sense of responsibility demanded that he investigate further. He therefore met
with Milo to discuss the matter. Milo stated his intention clearly and honestly: Even
after signing the document, he would take the new job if he was granted tenure.
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Using his discretion, Cosmo denied the application. Milo was disappointed but
accepted the decision. He, himself, had been reluctant to sign the document, so he
understood Cosmo’s position. Nevertheless, Milo considered the decision somewhat
unfair because others—all of them administrators—had been treated more leniently.
Sensitive to Milo’s concern, Cosmo proposed, at the next meeting of the institution’s
higher administration, that administrators agree never to take a leave without
returning. The proposal died for lack of a second.
Analysis
Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Milo’s case may seem di erent from most issues that typically arise in public
administration because it takes place within an academic context. Public universities are
generally much larger than most public organizations, follow di erent policies, have a
di erent organizational culture, and often are looser in their interpretation of rules.
However, the case has some general aspects that apply more broadly. For example, the
issue of leaves of absence has been a matter of concern in many public administration
contexts.
But perhaps most signi cantly, an underlying issue in Milo’s case is of almost
universal concern in ethical decision making. In ruling against Milo’s leave, Cosmo, in
following the intent of the state’s rules, apparently placed honesty and openness above
the happiness of the people most directly involved in the case. In doing so, he
apparently favored the deontological commitment to duty over the teleological
commitment to happiness.
But as we have seen, appearances can be deceptive. The teleological and
deontological aspects of these cases become blurred when long-term consequences are
considered. In Cosmo’s case, those teleologically signi cant consequences might
ultimately prove best under the policy that he pursued. If leaves were routinely o ered
to employees who had no intention of returning, uncertainty within the organization
concerning the need to hire permanent replacements would result. Perhaps more
importantly, the institution might su er a higher turnover rate among its employees. It
might not be as able to rely upon a stable work force, and instability could result.
There are also more abstract consequences that are more di cult to measure but may
be of greater importance yet. For example, if employees are encouraged to ignore the
rules if they prove inconvenient and cannot be easily enforced, a disrespect for the
structure of the entire organization could result. Furthermore, as was evidently already
the case among administrators at Cosmo’s institution, the use of leaves for the purpose,
unintended by the state, of furthering one’s own career might promote an attitude
among employees of placing their careers above the institution. Such an attitude cannot
be helpful to the long-term goals of an organization. Honestly following the moral rules
within the context of an organization, while seemingly fundamentally deontological,
may also be teleological.
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The distinction between the teleological and the deontological becomes even murkier
when virtue theory is considered. Cosmo displayed a moral virtue in choosing, on the
basis of moral considerations, the more di cult alternative. He could have signed the
leave request without bothering to ask Milo about his ultimate intentions; that is, he
could have swept the matter under the rug. Cosmo displayed a strength of moral
commitment. One might ask whether an organization—and furthermore, an entire
society—would not ultimately fare better, teleologically, with people like Cosmo, who
are committed to deontological principles.
But the case for Cosmo is not so open and shut. Marguerite also expressed a virtue in
her exibility. Might Cosmo have been too rigid? Which virtue is better in the long run?
Does it depend upon the individual case?
The relation of virtue to ultimate consequences is also a matter to be considered
regarding the case of Felicia and the questionable hire. With the exception of Felicia, all
of the people involved in the hiring process appeared to be most concerned with
covering themselves—most notably Alma, the director. One again might ask whether an
organization composed of characters such as Alma would best perform its utilitarian,
teleological function.
Consider the interrelations of virtue, teleology, and deontology as you privately assess
Cosmo’s decision and as you reassess the other decisions that we have discussed. We will
return to the character issue later.
PRIVACY VERSUS SAFETY
Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
The following discussion concerns an actual case, though the names are false (Leazes
and Campanelli, 1996). After reviewing it, we will consider similar hypothetical cases.
Melina is a crack cocaine user who is attempting to overcome her habit. She attends a
publicly funded support group for drug users under the direction of Constance, a
professional social worker. During one of the group meetings, Melina experienced a
hemorrhage. Although she su ered no permanent damage as a result of the incident, she
bled profusely on herself, the meeting room, and the women’s bathroom. Several
people, including those who cleaned the oor, furniture, and Melina, came into contact
with the blood. Although Constance was not present to witness the event, she heard of it
from the other members of the group, some of whom assisted in the cleaning process.
Melina is HIV positive. Privacy regulations protect Melina from having to reveal her
infection, so none of those involved in the bleeding incident except Melina herself were
aware of the danger, however slight, that they may have contracted the AIDS virus.
At some time after the incident, Melina revealed her HIV status to Constance in a
casual conversation. Constance did not react casually, however. Concerned about what
to do next, Constance called her supervisor, Carla, to inform her of the incident.
Constance was surprised to discover that Carla, who had not known about the
hemorrhage, had already known of Melina’s condition, but, because of the privacy laws,
Gueras, Dean, and Charles Garofalo. Practical Ethics in Public Administration, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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had not revealed it to Constance. Constance was extremely displeased.
Constance met with Mona, the department director, and Marco, the regional
manager, to discuss the incident. Mona and Marco agreed that Constance was both
legally and ethically correct in protecting Melina’s privacy. However, there remained
the question of what further action to take. Should the people who came in contact with
the blood be informed? If they were told that they had been exposed to HIV-infected
blood, they would have been easily able to infer that it had come from Melina, even if
she were not explicitly identi ed. They would not have been legally or professionally
bound to secrecy since they were not public employees. Telling them would have been
tantamount to telling the entire community. On the other hand, the information was
important to them, their sexual partners, and anyone who came into contact with their
blood. Those who had touched Melina’s blood would have been well-advised to be tested
for HIV and, until they receive the desired test results, limit some of their activities.
Discussions with legal and medical personnel produced contradictory advice. The chief
legal counsel stated that the law was clear in this case: No breach of Melina’s privacy
would be allowed under the law. But the agency’s HIV expert advised that, from a
medical standpoint, those who had contacted Melina’s blood should be tested.
Analysis
Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
What should Mona and Marco do? Let us examine the reasoning behind the options.
There are teleological reasons both for and against disclosure. Those for disclosure
include consideration of the possibly infected people and anyone who might come into
contact with them. There are several teleological factors against disclosure, however.
They include the possible negative e ect on Melina, the organization, and its individual
members who revealed Melina’s condition. All could su er legal action as well as
damage to their reputations. Furthermore, since the chance of infection is very slight,
disclosure would not likely result in any bene t to the people in contact with Melina’s
blood but would, instead, cause them unnecessary worry. Which teleological
considerations do you consider most compelling?
Deontological considerations also can be used in defense of both sides. The
deontological respect for individuals as ends in themselves supports both Melina’s right
to privacy and the rights of the vulnerable to be warned of possible avoidable dangers
that might befall them or that they might cause for others. There is a deontological
responsibility to obey the laws of the state, but there is also a deontological
responsibility to disobey the laws of the state on the basis of higher, overpowering
moral considerations.
Considerations of character enter into the issue in numerous ways. Depending upon
their actions, Mona and Marco could display the traits of obedience to law, benevolence
to an individual (i.e., Melina), benevolence to society in general, respect for privacy,
openness, honesty, and a range of other moral traits. But Mona and Marco could also
Gueras, Dean, and Charles Garofalo. Practical Ethics in Public Administration, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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Created from lynnu on 2020-02-18 13:28:36.
display more questionable moral traits such as disrespect for the law, disloyalty,
dishonesty, and self-protectiveness. Which virtues and vices do you consider as the best
and worst that might emerge in this case?
Having considered the teleological, deontological, and virtue aspects of the case, can
you find a way to reconcile your conclusions on all three into one overall decision?
Now let us consider some possible variations on this case. Suppose that Constance, the
social worker, had known of Melina’s HIV status at the time that she hemorrhaged.
Suppose also that Constance had been present when several people were preparing to
clean up Melina’s blood. What should Constance have done? The same laws apply and
the same considerations enter into this hypothetical case as in the previous, actual case.
In the hypothetical case, should Constance do as you thought Mona and Marco should
have done in the actual case? If not, why are the cases di erent in relevant ways? Does
consideration of the hypothetical case cause you to reconsider your conclusion in the
actual case?
Let us consider another variation from the actual case. Suppose now that Melina had
a contagious disease that was not protected by law or by any organizational policy. For
example, would the case be signi cantly di erent, from the moral perspective, if HIVinfected people were not legally protected? Would it be moral to reveal Melina’s HIV
status if there were no law forbidding one from doing so? Does the moral responsibility
to protect one’s privacy derive solely from the law?
THE ILLEGAL STRIKE
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Omega is the director of the transit system of a large city with a small tax base. Her
sta has done an outstanding job of providing good service with a meager budget, but
the corner cutting of the past few years is now creating problems. The light rail cars are
in disrepair to the extent that the repair service is more overworked than ever and
increasingly more cars are in the shop, waiting to be xed. The tracks are also needing
increasing attention. Without additional funds to overhaul the system and purchase new
cars, the system will deteriorate below an acceptable level of service. Omega and her
sta have publicized the problem extensively and discussed it fully with the city council,
but it is politically impossible to nd new money. Moreover, the situation seems to be in
an unfortunate spiral: Without the money, the service deteriorates; as service
deteriorates, the public uses it less and less; as the public uses it less, they take less
interest in funding the system.
The only solution lies in allocating more of the department’s own resources to
upgrade the system. But that solution entails placing a two-year freeze on both hiring
and salary increases. She knows that workers are already underpaid and overworked,
but she sees no other option.
The furious transit workers seek help from their union, which votes to strike within
one week if Omega does not reverse her decision. Serge, the head of the union,
Gueras, Dean, and Charles Garofalo. Practical Ethics in Public Administration, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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Created from lynnu on 2020-02-18 13:28:36.
understands Omega’s plight but realizes that it would be futile to explain the situation in
a way that would satisfy the rank and le. He nds no other option but to support their
strike.
State law prohibits strikes by public employees and provides criminal penalties
ranging from nes to imprisonment. In addition, the city has a law speci cally designed
to prevent transit strikes. The city’s penalty is immediate dismissal. Transit workers
have struck several times in the past, but no legal punishment has been applied. As a
nearly automatic part of the bargaining process, all striking workers have been
pardoned. Omega, Serge, and the union members hope that the traditional bargaining
process will be applied in this case.
But this case is di erent from the past. The current mayor, Cleon, has never been
confronted with a strike before, and he is philosophically opposed to strikes by public
employees. During his campaign for mayor, he promised never to permit such strikes.
He publicly warns the union that he will re striking workers and asks the state to
impose the legal criminal penalties. While he knows that the state will not comply, he
fully intends to re all strikers. He refuses to budge, even to end a possible prolonged
strike.
Analysis
Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Both Omega and Cleon have teleological arguments for their positions. Omega argues
that it would be impossible to hire quali ed replacements for red strikers. Years would
elapse before the system could function properly again. Furthermore, she argues, even if
the fear of losing their jobs causes the union members to refrain from striking—an
unlikely possibility—their morale will be low, their productivity will consequently
su er, and some of the best employees will seek jobs elsewhere. Moreover, she argues, a
strike might not be such a bad thing. It might help the public realize that more money is
needed to run the system while paying workers a fair wage.
Cleon also has several teleological arguments. Although he recognizes that the
workers would be impossible to replace, he fears that if the transit workers succeed,
strikes in other city agencies are inevitable. He and his city administration will be seen
as weak, especially after the promises that he has made, and he will invite trouble from
all quarters. Furthermore, he does not think that the transit workers would stop after
one victory. As soon as the transit workers are discontent again—and they will have
good reason to be discontent, given the nancial state of the division—they will
confidently strike again.
Omega recoils in despair as Cleon compares himself to President Reagan, who ended
the air tra c controller’s strike permanently. Cleon realizes that nding permanent
replacements will be di cult but believes that the time needed to retrain people will
pay o in the long run. If need be, he says, he will consider privatizing the entire
system by hiring a company without union workers. Finally, he argues, he simply
Gueras, Dean, and Charles Garofalo. Practical Ethics in Public Administration, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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Created from lynnu on 2020-02-18 13:28:36.
cannot raise wages. To accede to their demands even minimally, he says, is impossible.
If the money is not spent to upgrade the system physically, it will soon virtually
collapse.
Both also have deontological arguments. Omega argues that it would be unfair to re
workers for striking only for wages that, as Cleon would agree, they truly deserve on
the basis of their productivity. But Cleon also has deontological arguments for his
position. First, he argues, the law requires that striking transit workers be red; he is an
executor of the law, so he is obligated to re them. Secondly, he has promised the public
that he would not permit strikes, and he considers himself morally bound by that
promise.
Both Omega and Cleon may be seen as having personal interest in their own
positions. Omega has greater personal contact with the workers and is more likely to
sympathize with their situations. She is also more dependent professionally upon their
support. Cleon has a political stake in showing a strong hand and in living up to his
campaign promises. Nevertheless, let us ignore any private interests that they might
have and concentrate on their moral arguments.
Whose arguments do you consider to be the most convincing, when all factors are
considered? Are there important factors that neither Omega nor Cleon mentioned? Does
the workers’ assumption, based upon past policy and “organizational culture,” that they
will be rehired despite the law have any in uence on your thinking? If so, can you
characterize the in uence as teleological or deontological? Does Cleon’s notion of
privatizing the system with a company whose workers are not represented by a union
introduce ethical problems?
Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
WHO GOES? WHO STAYS?
We will treat the following case as an extension of the previous case, but with some
changes. First, we will ignore any union involvement. Secondly, let us suppose that
Cleon eventually accepted Omega’s arguments, permitted the workers to return, and
allowed them a raise. However, the needed physical repairs and replacements had to be
sacri ced. Omega, in turn, promised to do anything necessary to upgrade the system
within a three-year period. Eventually, the anticipated crunch occurred. The department
decided that it must lay people o to pay for the needed equipment and repair. Omega
called a meeting of her assistant directors to discuss the process of terminating
employees. (For a thorough analysis of the budget cutting process, see Lerner and
Wanat 1993, 85–96.)
Delia, who had served longest as an assistant director, argued for even cuts across all
divisions of the department. She had endured several such cutbacks in the past—all
before Omega arrived—and all had been “across the board.” Typically, the layo s were
based upon time of service, with the most recent hires being red rst. She would accept
the last in- rst out approach if it was successful in retaining enough personnel while
Gueras, Dean, and Charles Garofalo. Practical Ethics in Public Administration, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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Created from lynnu on 2020-02-18 13:28:36.
Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
reducing the budget su ciently. Otherwise, she would apply a more complex system in
which the highest paid nonmanagement, nonessential personnel would be red rst,
and then, if need be, managers would be red by a similar procedure. Once applied, her
approach would be formulaic. It left little to the judgment of division directors, who
would be happy not to be blamed for decisions that they otherwise would have had to
make. This, she said, was the easy way out. It avoided professional and ethical
judgments.
Her reasoning is apparently teleological. Do you agree with her position? Does it, as
she thought, avoid ethical judgments?
Arno, who was next to Delia in longevity, had a di erent approach. He believed that
some divisions, either as a whole or in part, should be sacri ced in order to streamline
the system. One such division was dedicated to the physical and psychological wellness
of employees. Arno agreed that the division performed a valuable function, but it was
not central to the mission of the system. Although he did not wish to eliminate the
division concerned with employee retirement and insurance bene ts, he believed that
severe cuts in that division were possible with a minimal impact upon the system as a
whole. He therefore suggested a cost-bene t analysis of all divisions within the system.
His highest priority was to preserve the physical quality of the system and the number of
drivers. He acknowledged to Delia that his solution would require professional decisions,
but he believed that it would avoid ethical ones.
Arno’s position was di erent from Delia’s but still teleological in that he was
concerned with the ultimate consequences of the layo s for the system. Does his
approach avoid ethical decisions, as he thought?
Marlo disagreed with both. She believed that, in thinking that they had avoided
ethical decisions, Delia and Arno were making them tacitly—and bad ones, to boot. She
claimed that Delia was treating people as though they were numbers or inanimate
objects. Delia’s system did not consider the personal conditions of the people involved.
According to the rst of Delia’s options, people would be red because they were the
last hired and not on the basis of merit. According to the second option, long-term,
higher salaried workers, most of whom would have di culty nding new positions
because of age, would be sacri ced. Marlo believed that those options, far from
avoiding ethical decisions, were, themselves, ethical decisions.
Nor, she said, did the third of Delia’s options avoid ethical decision making. According
to that option, managers would have a possibly unfair advantage because they would be
red only after nonmanagement workers. She criticized both Delia and Arno for
ignoring an ethically very important factor: the merits of the employees. Marlo argued
for a merit system according to which division directors would use their judgment to
evaluate the performance of their personnel and suggest who most deserved to be
retained and who was least worthy to remain with the organization.
Delia and Arno strongly opposed Marlo’s proposal. They described it as messy and
unsystematic. It left too much to the judgment of the division directors, who certainly
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Copyright © 2010. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
would not want to take responsibility for their own personal decisions. Delia and Arno
believed that if Marlo’s proposal were implemented, the division directors would accuse
upper management of shoving the responsibility back to them.
Marlo replied, “Yeah, sure. They accuse us of shoving responsibility back to them.
They think that the right thing to do is for them to shove their responsibility as
managers back to us. Do they want managerial pay without the responsibility that goes
with it? I think that you have misjudged them, or at least some of them. I think that they
are professional enough to accept judgment as part of the job. Besides, Omega must
make the nal decisions, anyway; they should be happy for the opportunity to o er
their opinions.”
Arno considered Marlo’s response to be charmingly naive. But, pressing her for more
specifics, he asked that she supply more guidelines for managers. For example, he asked,
should managers consider merit on the basis of past performance, prospects for future
performance, or some combination of the two in considering whom to retain? Marlo
replied that she would want managers to favor merit on past performance because to do
so was most just, but that she would also entertain the possibility of considering the
likelihood of future meritorious performance. Whether in the past or the future,
however, merit was her foremost concern.
Delia feared that Marlo’s plan would reduce the entire downsizing process to a
despotic exercise in favoritism by the division managers. They would retain their
favorite workers and purge the divisions of possibly good employees that had con icts
with the managers.
Marlo recognized the potential problem but had two responses. First, she argued, the
managers had been chosen because of their managerial expertise, which presumably
included concern not only for professional e ectiveness but also for ethics. She
maintained that they should be trusted unless evidence against them could be
established. Furthermore, if the managers prove untrustworthy in this case, the entire
organization should pay more attention to the ethics of individuals before hiring them.
Secondly, she argued that if managers were discovered to have red the wrong people,
Omega, as the nal authority within the system, should exercise her judgment to
overrule the managers.
Marlo could not convince Delia and Arno. The three could not agree on a single plan,
but their function was only advisory. They submitted three separate reports to Omega.
She was disappointed. She asked them to meet again to nd a proposal that they could
all accept, even if it was a compromise. But this time, she asked them to consider the
matter as if they themselves were in one of the divisions to be included in the
downsizing.
Arno immediately withdrew his proposal to eliminate the least important divisions in
favor of Delia’s proposal, with the provision that the most recently hired be red rst.
Delia agreed. Marlo withdrew her proposal in favor of Delia’s, with the provision that
the longest-standing, most expensive employees be red rst. They then laughed at their
Gueras, Dean, and Charles Garofalo. Practical Ethics in Public Administration, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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Created from lynnu on 2020-02-18 13:28:36.
little game of self-ridicule and began to address Omega’s request seriously. As of this
writing, they have not come to a decision.
Analysis
Review of the deliberations among the three assistants suggests that Delia and Arno
took di ering teleological positions, while Marlo’s was primarily deontological. Delia
and Arno wanted to get the job done most e ciently, with the least agony, and with
greatest concern for the smooth functioning of the organization. They disagreed
concerning the best way to achieve their teleological goals. Marlo was more concerned
with the deontological issue of evaluating people according to their merits and giving
people, as nearly as possible, what they deserve.
Who do you think gave the best arguments? Are there other arguments that were not
mentioned but that you would nd compelling? What do you think was Omega’s
purpose in asking her assistants to apply their proposals to themselves? In making that
request, do you think that she betrayed any bias toward one of the points of view over
the others?
KEY EMERGING ISSUES
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At this point you may become disturbed. All of these ethical cases are confusing, and,
taken together, they pile confusion on top of confusion. Nevertheless, there are some
issues that are beginning to emerge, and we will address three in particular: (1) the
relation of character to ethical decision making; (2) the development of informed ethical
intuitions; and (3) the development of personal ethical styles.
The Relation of Character to Ethical Decision Making
In the preceding cases we noticed a variety of di erent people with di erent
characters. In the case of the questionable hire, Felicia seemed concerned with ethical
commitments and generally would follow the accepted policies of the organization. But,
when those policies con icted with what she thought was right, she was willing to
overlook the rules regarding privacy to help her resolve the con ict. On the other hand,
Alma and the remaining members of the hiring committee followed organizational
policy without letting any personal moral beliefs interfere. In the case of the professor’s
leave of absence, Milo attempted to follow both the letter and spirit of the
organization’s laws but was willing to make an occasional exception for his own
bene t. Marguerite was more than willing to get arou…
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