The W’s and H list

To solve an ethical issue, ask and answer:

1. What’s your problem?

Spell out, in some detail, what makes this situation a moral dilemma.

2. Why not follow the rules?

What laws, rules, ethics codes or precedents should you keep in mind? If so, are there reasons your dilemma cannot be resolved by them?

3. Who wins, who loses?

Who are the stakeholders, and what impact will your decision have on them in the short term and the long term?

4. What’s it worth?

Prioritize your values — both moral and non-moral — and decide which one(s) you won’t compromise.

5. Who’s whispering in your ear?

In general, and in this case, which school of philosophy or set of moral principles provides you with a moral compass?

6. How’s your decision going to look?

State your conclusion, and imagine what your friends and people you respect will think.

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