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Fundamentals of Ethical Decision Making

MABUHAY PAIDE members and associates!

The economy here is USA seems to be improving, and hopefully that will allow me the opportunity (and the funds) to be able to make a trip this coming year to see all of you and perhaps have a workshop or two. But in the meantime, I am still landlocked in the USA and well just have to make do, with a virtual/written workshop here in the newsletter.

I've recently finished an in depth ethics course in relation to my current studies towards my Legal Certification, one of the highest ratings and Interpreter can achieve from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). There are currently only 264 SC:L (Specialist Certificate: Legal) in the United States, and only 7 in my state of Arizona. I aspire to be among the few!

My point isn't to brag, my point is, no matter your level of competency, no matter the level of fluency, no matter your level of certification or the level of your desire to help...always find your next goal, your next "pie in the sky"...keep learning, keep striving. My next goal after help gain status for interpreters in Philippines, so that the profession of interpreting can be a viable and livable occupation. So without further ado, let's learn something!

All too often, a new interpreter will ask a seasoned interpreter, "How do I handle this situation?" or "What do I do if...?". Often the answer is, "Well, it depends..." Not much help me? I have been there; I have been the "Newbie Terp" and was given that response many times. And now I am a seasoned terp and have given that very same response to newbies! Why not, it's what I learned long ago isn't it? This article installment of ethical studies hopefully will remedy the problem to the answer of "It depends..." In this article we will be covering the subject of Ethical behavior and Ethics of interpreting.

Ethics refers to standards of behavior that tell us how human beings ought to act in the many situations in which they find themselves. Ethics is not the same as feelings, it is not following the law, and it is not following culturally accepted norms, nor is it science.

According to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, there are five sources of ethical standards: The Utilitarian Approach, The Rights Approach, The Fairness or Justice Approach, The Common Good Approach, and finally, The Virtue Approach

Recognize an Ethical Issue. Could this decision or situation be damaging to someone or to some group? Is this issue about more than what is legal or what is most efficient? ~Get the Facts What are the relevant facts of the case? Do I know enough to make a decision? Have I identified creative options?

Evaluate Alternative Actions. Evaluate the options by asking the following questions:

  • Which option will produce the most good and do the least harm? (The Utilitarian Approach)
  • Which option best respects the rights of all who have a stake? (The Rights Approach)
  • Which option treats people equally or proportionately? (The Justice Approach)
  • Which option best serves the community as whole, not just some members? (The Common Good Approach)
  • Which option leads me to act as the sort of person I want to be? (The Virtue Approach)

Make a Decision and Test It Considering all these approaches, which option best addresses the situation? If I told someone I respect-or told a television audience-which option I have chosen, what would they say?

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 this specific situation?

Nine Basic Steps to Personal Ethical Decision Making

  1. Practice ethical behavior actively including definition of personal worldview and review of core ethical values. The ethical design professional is consistently ethical!
  2. Define the ethical problem as it arises-ignoring the problem won't make disappear
  3. Formulate alternatives - avoid "first impulse" solutions without having extensive ethical awareness training and experience.
  4. Evaluate the alternatives - are they ethical? Am I the sole beneficiary? How would I feel if the roles or circumstances were reversed?
  5. Seek additional assistance, as appropriate - previous cases, peers, reliance on personal experience, prayer
  6. Choose best ethical alternative - the one that does the most good for all the right reasons
  7. Implement the best alternative - no initiative, no results
  8. Monitor and assess the outcome - how to improve the next time.
    1. In my recent ethics class, we used a mnemonic; D.E.C.I.D.E.. to help us work out ethical issues, it's easy to see that the processes are very similar to those mentioned above.

      D: Dilemma presents itself: what is the conflict, is it an interpreting issue, is it a personal issue or is it a location issue?

      E: Evaluate the conflicts: what IS the conflict; with tenet of the PAIDE COE do you feel is in conflict with your assignment.

      C: Consider the stakeholders: Who is being affected by this conflict and ultimately by your solutions to the conflict.

      I. Identify Possible Solutions: What can you do to minimize any harm to all participants (stakeholders), Don't forget to include yourself as a stakeholder! And create at least two solutions to the conflict.

      D: Determine the best approach: Once you've identified the all the stakeholders, decide which of your possible solutions would best work and apply.

      E. Evaluate the Implementation: Did your solution work? Was it successful in resolving the issue, if not, back up and re-evaluate the conflicts and the stakeholders, especially if new information has come to light or the situation have changed.

      In closing this article, remember these questions to consider;

      • Is this a conflict that I, as the interpreter, am responsible for?
      • Would there be more harm done by doing the assignment or not doing it?
      • Does the approach I selected resolve the conflict with the PAIDE COE tenets?
      • Does my decision represent the least possible harm to the stakeholders?
      • What decision would I want if I were one of the stakeholders?
      • Would I be fine with my decision published in the PAIDE newsletter or website?
      • Would I be proud for my child, parents or parish to know my decision?
      • Will my approach cause more conflicts than it resolves?

      Ethical decision making is a dynamic and flowing process. You will learn as you go, like we all do, but in time and utilizing these techniques daily, our ethical decision making will become second nature!

      Good Luck and ingat

      Till next time my friends