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Why our current approach to ending racism is a result of unethical and terrible decision-making?

A particular infamous nonprofits' mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. What does that mean exactly? How do you eradicate or destroy something that is a mindset? How do you build local power? What local power have you built? The issue is a real issue but the approach is not ethically compliant with the communities. Does this lead us to peace or war? Utilizing ethical decision-making models is key in changing the narrative and healing the world. The world needs healing and peace, not war. One model can help us get there, despite its own flaws. We will discuss a synopsis of the eight-step ethical decision-making model. Then, we will examine some pros and cons. The eight-step ethical decision-making model was developed by Bush, Connell, and Denney to guide psychologists to avoid ethical dilemmas by making the best ethical decision (Neal, 2010). Let's talk about these eight steps.

Step 1. Determine whether the matter truly involves ethics. Koocher and Keith-Spiegel (2016) mention how there is confusion between what is considered unorthodox and poor professional etiquette. Adequate time and consideration should be utilized to determine if the matter is unethical or not. Step 2. Consult guidelines already available that might apply as a possible mechanism for resolution. Use resources that can help facilitate a resolution that is fair and works to fix the unethical discrepancy. Step 3. Pause to consider, as best as possible, all factors that might influence the decision you will make. It is easy to consider what you might do in a situation. However, it is vital to consider the impact on others to remain ethical. Step 4. Consult with a trusted colleague. Get a different opinion and perspective or gather evidence to support and build confidence in your own. Feelings can be incorrect.

Step 5. Evaluate the rights, responsibilities, and vulnerabilities of all affected parties. Consider everyone in your decisions, especially in decisions that involve others. We tend to be one-sided in our approach to decision-making. Step 6. Generate alternative decisions. The only way to determine what the best decision is to evaluate and compare different decisions with others. Take the time to understand each decision and how they all impact the situations, which is Step 7. Enumerate the consequences of making each decision. Step 8. Make the decision. Make the right and ethical decision.

There is value in the concept of having a way of making an ethical decision. It makes the process obtainable and comprehensive. However, there is a lack of value in rationale in the model. How quick can a person come to decide while giving each of the eight steps an appropriate amount of consideration and time? A supported model, such as the eight steps, would make ethical decision-making easier. Therefore, an accurate adaption of this model will be influential in achieving racial justice. However, the decision may be perceived as the best and right choice, but it doesn't protect everyone from experiencing some form of injury (Koocher and Keith-Spiegel, 2016). How might we do our best to protect and cause little to no harm as the APA code of ethics would recommend (APA, 2017)?

Although I appreciate a good model, I think there are a few holes in this process. For example, the lack of consideration of other individuals involved in a process. We cannot truly understand the entirety of a decision and its effects without someone else connecting opinion to shave off the right and the wrong. Consulting with a trusted colleague is a great step, but even the colleague cannot provide authentic emotions or a thorough understanding of the consequences of a bad decision (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). To reinforce this model, empathy will have to play a great part as well as collaborative communication. The responsibility of making the decision can lie in one person, but the process of generating a good decision to make should be inclusive.

I wonder how this eight-step model is compatible with time-sensitive decisions. Inconsiderate decisions are the quicks ones to come by. In my opinion, humans are prone to making these selfish decisions, due to a lack of empathy and process. Step 3 tells us to pause to consider, as best as possible, all factors that might influence the decision we make (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). What if a person does not have time to pause? I wonder if this process can have an alternative based on the situation. It would be excellent to reevaluate a decision, but when does the process occur? Two essential predecessors to the decision-making need to be empathy and rationale. This is why the incorporation of the design thinking process would be vital with this eight-step model to ensure adequate decisions are made.

I will leave you with this. Should human rights groups be human-centric?


American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, amended effective June 1, 2010, and January 1, 2017).

Koocher, G.P., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2016). Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions. (4th ed). Oxford University Press.

Neal, T.M.S. (2010). Choosing the lesser of two evils: A framework for considering the ethics of competence for execution evaluations. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice,10, 145-157. doi: 10.1080/15228930903446724

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