Moral Intensity

Moral Intensity
Moral Intensity

How moral intensity and ethical decision making differs between uk business students and accounting professionals? | The WritePass Journal

Moral Intensity

Moral intensity relates to the issue itself and to every unique situation Shaub (1997).  Consequently Jones (1991, p372) described moral intensity as being “a construct that captures the extent of issue-related moral imperative in a situation”.  Ethical dilemmas tend to be evaluated within the context of the situation; hence an evaluation of the situation is imperative in understanding if a situation is ethical or not Dewe (1997).  The conception behind moral intensity has often been related to the criminal justice system; in that your punishment is proportionate to the severity of the offence you commit Davis et al (1988).  According to Jones (1991) moral intensity is a multidimensional construct and he identifies six characteristics that make up the moral intensity model.

How moral intensity and ethical decision making differs between uk business students and accounting professionals? | The WritePass Journal

At what point does moral or ethical problems trigger action? Or even concern or notice? The moral intensity with which a subject is perceived may be the key to determining the trigger.

Environmentalists could be said to have more moral intensity about over use of pesticides than farmers. Farmers probably find the issue of genetically enhanced seeds more of a serious issue than the general public, and so on …

In an ideal situation, the most critical issues of danger and damage to societal order would generate heightened levels of moral intensity so that reactions to moral violations would be quick and effective.

But moral intensity has also been a force for destruction – religious wars, persecution and torture have all flowed from situations where “moral” intensity was at its worst.

It’s a concept worth pondering and important in business ethics, since without that trigger provoking action, most business ethics problems would just continue unaddressed moving onward by simple inertia.

What I have excerpted above is one view of moral intensity. I am going to list some other blog perceptions of the issue below.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, The Harvard College Anscombe Society: (If it is possible to be more pretentious, I am unaware of it.)

Moral rhetoric is the culture war’s current weapon of choice, but the culture war’s real meat lies in the orthodoxies that compel the moral intensity at the front lines. We cannot adequately understand how the culture wars evoke such moralistic passion until we recognize the authority of these orthodoxies. Effectively, two camps wage the culture war: the secular orthodoxy, composed of those who identify with the medley of feminism, pluralism, liberationism, and multiculturalism, and the traditional orthodoxy, wed to Judeo-Christian values. As the incessant unrest over Roe v. Wade illustrates, the intrinsic disparities between these orthodoxies render them philosophically incompatible.

From the web site, (This is an abstract for a paper.)

Weblogs, or blog, are rapidly becoming a mainstream technology in the information world. By June 2008, Technorati, an internet search engine, was indexing 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. Blogs allow millions of people to easily publish their ideas and millions more to read and evaluate and comment on them. When bloggers write things on their blog they became public. Although bloggers use blogs for many different functions and would likely provide many different definitions of blog (Stutzman, 2004), as we have seen, many bloggers perform journalistic functions. Therefore most moral code for bloggers is credibility in a journalistic sense (Blood, 2002; Dube, 2003), but they are nonprofessional without such code. Generally, blog audiences are built on trust, so bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. For example, bloggers should disclose every benefit to any monetary (or other potentially conflicting) interests when appropriate. However, there has been almost no talk about this kind of ethics in the blog world. This study designed three ethical scenarios of blogger behavior against ethics code. Scenarios include blogger promoted her favorable food without disclosure conflict of interests, post other people’s entries without referencing material, and decoding other bloggers’ picture. The purpose of current research was to examine the perception of moral intensity and how the perception directly affected the specific processes of moral decision making of bloggers related to three scenarios.

From the web site, Lev Lafeyette:

Moral intensity is the degree that people see an issue as an ethical one. Influences on moral intensity include magnitude of consequences, social consequence, concentration of effect, temporal immediacy and proximity. The magnitude of consequences is the anticipated level of impact of the outcome of a given action. The social consensus is the extent that members of a society agee that an act is good or bad and the probability of effect is the rise and fall of moral intensity depending on how likely people think the consequences are. Temporal immediacy is a function of the interval between the time an action occurs and the onset of consequences. Proximity refers to the psychological or emotional closeness the decision-maker feels to those affected by the decision. Concentration of effect refers to the extent to which consequences are focused.


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