Goal Based Ethics
"Do the Means Justify The End?"

What are goal based ethics? Well, we know that a goal is the sum of many actions to accomplish one overall thing. So when we relate this to ethics, we are asking, do the actions we are taking to achieve this overall goal justify the end result or our goal? Ethically are we doing what is best for all involved and not just whatever it takes to reach that goal. Are our actions ethical?

Define It!

Short definition: Does the end justify the means.?

Are you taking the right actions to achieve your goals and more importantly are those actions in alignment with what is ethical? Can you feel good about the steps you are taking to accomplished your goal?

Examples of goal based ethics

Let’s say your goal is to make partner in your law firm. Your goals may include Getting to work early and staying late. They could include doing research on a high profile case your firm is working on. You may take additional college courses to amp up your résumé.

What your goals should not include would be things like exposing a co-worker for wrong doing because they are fighting for the same position or letting an attorney for the other side in on some information that would make your colleague look bad or loose a case.Now the actions above are obvious, however it can sometimes be a little trickier. Lets say you own a small business and you have fallen on hard times and you are faced with having to lay people off. If you do not lay some people off the business will have to close it’s doors. If you do lay people off you will be able to keep some people employed and in the long run you could become stronger and employ even more which would be the overall goal.

No one wants to lay people off, but in this case the end is justified by the means.

The important thing to remember here is that, you should look closely at your goal and decide what needs to happen in order to reach your overall goals and ask yourself if the end justifies the means.

When we are talking about goal based ethics it is hard to say what is ethical and what is not as a general rule. It is up to you to decide on a case by case basis what is ethical and justified.

Related Pages

goal definition

goal tracking

theory of goal setting

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