Framework for Ethical Decision Making
The PLUS Ethical Decision-Making Model
P = Policies: Is it consistent with university policies, rules, regulations, and other applicable university guidance?
L= Legal: Is it acceptable under the applicable laws and regulations? Consult with the Office of General Counsel for assistance if you are unsure.
U = Universal: Does it conform to the universal values the university has adopted?
S= Self: Does it satisfy my personal definition of right, good and fair?
Adapted from The PLUS Ethical Decision Making Model, Ethics and Compliance Initiative. Retrieved from https://www.ethics.org/resources/free-toolkit/decision-making-model/.
Other Questions to Consider
Recognize an Ethical Issue
- Could this decision or situation be damaging to someone or to some group?
- Does this decision involve a choice between a good and bad alternative, or perhaps between two “goods” or two “bads”?
- Is the issue about more than what is legal or what is most efficient?
Get the Facts
- Who will be impacted?
- What are your obligations?
- What are possible options and consequences (harm, perception etc.)?
Evaluate Alternate Actions
Consider your personal values and the university’s values, and evaluate options by asking the following questions:
- Which option will produce the most good and do the least harm?
- Which option best respects the rights of all who have a stake?
- Which option treats people equally or proportionately?
- Which option best serves the community as a whole?
Make a Decision and Test It
After deciding on the option that best addresses the situation, ask yourself:
- If I told someone I respect – or told a television audience, what would they say?
- Would I be comfortable with my decision printed in the newspapers for all to read?
Act and Reflect on the Outcome
- How can my decision be implemented with the greatest care and attention to the concerns of all stakeholders?
- How did my decision turn out and what have I learned from it?
Adapted from Valesquez, M., Moberg, D., Meyer, M, Shanks, T., McLean, M., DeCosse, D., Andre, C., and Hanson, K. (2009, May) A Framework for Thinking Ethically. Retrieved from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/framework.html.