(1)The application of ethics principles requires ethical decision-making skills. What is involved in ethical decision-making, how is it applied, and what are the difficulties involved in the application of principles of ethics?
Ethical decision-making arises from two levels of moral reasoning: (1) the intuitive level consisting of one's personal feelings and ideas as to the "right" and "wrong" of a particular situation--feelings derived from beliefs formulated out of personal knowledge and experiences; and (2) the critical evaluative level consisting of reasoned judgements and evaluations of the situation.
As to the application of moral reasoning to a given situation, one's intuitive response is always immediate and personal, it is our initial impression or gut-feeling. It simply comes to us that this is correct or incorrect, right or wrong.
The critical evaluation level, on the other hand, is a decision we arrive at by applying ethical theory, moral principles, and professional rules, standards, codes, and laws to the specific situation which must be decided. Critical evaluation is seasoned thought.
Relevant to the application of moral reasoning is the fact that while ethical rules and standards are helpful to critical thinking, they can be inadequate for some situations. Similarly, theory can be too abstract making it difficult for one to derive practical and specific applications. Therefore, people place a heavy reliance on ethical principles for the resolution of ethical/moral conflicts and dilemmas.
Commonly, people rely on five moral principles for decision-making. In this regard, they attempt to arrive at decisions which are in accord with the principles of: (1) autonomy (respecting others' rights and decisions); (2) non-maleficence (not causing harm to others); (3) beneficence (contributing to others' health and welfare); (4) justice (being fair); and
(5) fidelity (keeping promises, loyalty).