What options are possible and which is the ‘best’ under the circumstances?

Generate as many options as possible by trying to think ‘outside the box’ and avoiding binary ‘either/or’ thinking. As a rule, try to generate at least 3 or more courses of action. Potential positive and negative consequences of each course of action should be identified, along with implications of different options for the obligations and duties of those involved. The values, principles and moral arguments justifying each course of action should be analyzed and compared. The possibility of reconciling consequences, obligations and norms should be evaluated. Options supported by less important rationales should be set aside or given low priority. In light of this analysis, options should be weighed, and the ‘best’ option, or cluster of options, selected.

Effort should be devoted to building consensus amongst those involved. It is also important to ensure that there is an implementation plan in which ethical rationale is intentionally expressed and roles and responsibilities relating to the decision assigned. Describe and document the reasons for choosing a particular course of action. Clearly summarize in a few sentences the moral justification for the decision taken.

  • What options are possible in this situation and what ethical values support each option?
  • What consequences might result from each option?
  • Can consequences, values and obligations be reconciled?

Return to HHEAT Handbook at a Glance.

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