The Progressive Era
An essay about The Progressive Era
Making Ethical Decisions
Decision making process is not only complex in many situations, but also demands a lot of awareness and balance between a range of factors including fairness, responsibilities, outcomes, liberty and rights as well as empathy, and the demands of the authorities and the character. Every individual will often engage in situations demanding critical thinking before determining the most appropriate decision. In some situations, one may make harmful decisions to society or oneself. This essay provides ethical self-awareness and an ethical issue recognition with a close examination of ethical concepts application during the progressive era. The discussion continues to evaluate different perspectives or concepts by comparing and contrasting President Theodore Roosevelt’s and personal application of the 8KQs (Key Questions) of ethical decisions.
Although all the eight Key Questions (8KQs) are indeed important when making decisions, I consider fairness as the most important factor in ethical decision making process. Fairness involves understanding the most just actions to undertake to achieve equitable outcomes while observing a balance of legitimate interests in a given society. For instance, I have observed how most married women in society continue to believe that their earnings are for personal use and that their husbands must cater for everything that the family needs including food, shelter, clothing, education and medical covers among other demands. I strongly hold this kind of believe or perception by most of the women as unfair. As such, I would expect both the spouses to contribute towards the family’s well-being and development. When making any ethical decision, I emphasize on the goodwill to ensure fairness and justice for all. In this regard, the outcomes from personal actions must bring happiness to the majority population.
Ethical Issue Recognition
The history of the United States clearly demonstrates how ethical decision making impact the lives of the people in a given society. One of the significant periods in the U.S history is the Progressive Era, which is the period between 1890s up to the 1920s. During this period, intellectuals, labor leaders, journalists, businesspersons, politicians and activists as well as the workers fought to establish ethically governed society of the Americans. The society established various ethical and social concerns. Corruption and unfair business practices were the most detrimental concerns (Green 1). One of the available decisions towards dealing with these unethical practices was to harness the federal government’s power, especially towards controlling certain activities that would ensure fair treatment and justice to every member in the American society.
Another decision available to the players towards establishing ethically controlled society was to protect both the workers and the consumers to ensure that the employers or businesspersons maintained ethical practices towards their employees and consumers. It was also within the emphasis of these players to accord voting rights to women. Most of the workers, especially the immigrants faced a lot of brutality from their employers while corrupt politicians continued to enrich themselves at the expense of the common man. The economic gap between the rich and the poor widened through corruption and the poor population nearly worshiped the corrupt businesspersons and politicians so that they may get some employment within the harsh conditions. The decisions to increase federal power to control business activities and reduce corruption was fruitful. Besides, women achieved voting rights during this era.
Application of Ethical Concepts/Perspectives
President Theodore Roosevelt, who was among the leaders during the Progressive Era did not shy away from addressing the ethical concerns in the American society. He demonstrated his awareness of the 8KQs during ethical decision making. In his New Nationalism address, Roosevelt emphatically addressed corruption as one of the critical components contributing to the unfairness and injustice within the society. President Roosevelt argued that the absence of proper state and federal controls against “unfair money-getting” often created “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men” whose aim was to unfairly treat the rest of the society while accumulating power upon themselves (Fenton, 547). Roosevelt also claimed that there was need to continue fighting lawlessness and corporate greed.
In light of this, the president was aware of the need for liberty and fairness and authority. Of importance, the president was also cognizant of empathy when making ethical decision. While saying “I do not ask for too much power for the central government,” the president demonstrated his empathy and justified application of controls amongst the Americans and individual characters (Fenton, 548). According to president Roosevelt’s New Nationalism, the executive power was a critical instrument towards guarding the public welfare. As such, Roosevelt observed all the 8KQs but treated responsibility with utmost consideration.
Evaluation of Different Concepts/Perspectives
When determining ethical decisions, responsibility is a critical question, just as emphasized in Roosevelt’s address. For instance, the president demonstrated that it was within the duties and responsibilities of the executive to protect every American from oppression by those in power or authority. In this regard, he sought for strict controls to fairly and justly discharge the executive mandate. Roosevelt’s emphasis on responsibility would increase ethical governance just as fairness would from a personal view. However, while responsibility may demand a lot of commitment to one’s actions, fairness would improve awareness to others on the need and practice for fairness without overstepping on other person’s rights.
Ethical decision making process is a critical element and skill that every leader must demonstrate. Successful leaders must show awareness of the environment and the followers as well as empathy when discharging their duties and responsibilities. Besides, ethical leadership demands a lot of fairness and justice. Most importantly, leaders must be good communicators to ensure that the leaders clearly understand their views or ideas. The 8KQs significantly help in determining the most appropriate decisions for oneself and the entire society.
Fenton, Edwin. A New History of the United States. 1969. pp. 547-49
Green, J. The Progressive Era: Crash Course U.S History. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0Q4zPR4G7M&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s&index=30