Ethical Thinking and Rationalizations

This is something that I do think is relevant to people with ADHD in terms of lying or perceived as lying or not telling the truth.  In this case it comes in the form of rationalizing which is something that I have worked very hard in eliminating in my repertoire.  It is simply trying to explain yourself or justify why you do things which in the case of undiagnosed ADHD.....this almost becomes second nature to do.

 By is not lying pursuant  in that you aren't aware of the truth.... but more trying to fit the truth into what you do and  justify it by doing it this way.  Is really is for that reason alone but it isn't  the truth in terms of what is really real or happening.  If you can't explain something about yourself and you are left without any way to defend your actions to others....the only thing is left is rationalizing until you have a better explanation not just an excuse.  One leaves things open to discuss and the other one ends the discussion right there.

I thought this might prove to be useful to explain this to those of you on the receiving end to understand where and why it happens?  To are examples of ethical thinking.

Ends-based thinking - deciding to do whatever provides the greatest good for the greatest number. This is known as the principle of utilitarianism. It relies on being able to predict the consequences of different actions.

Rule-based thinking - deciding what to do based on a rule that you believe should be a general principle that is always followed. Rule-based thinking acknowledges that you can never really know all the consequences of your actions and that it is better to stick to one's principles. (conservatism)

Care-based thinking - deciding what to do based on the idea that this is what we would want others to do to you. This is known as the principle of "reversibility " and is at the center of most religious teachings. (empathy or love based)

And right off the bat....I can see a gender conflict here between these thinking approaches which are all considered "ethical" in their own right.


The ethical "man" or "prudent man"  (from a male perspective)....would fall squarely into the utilitarian way of thinking and rightfully so.  But as relies on being able to predict the consequences of different actions and being able to differentiate the difference between more than one persons feelings and needs as a whole.  This is the forest way of thinking in other words as I understand this.  I also think this is a stereo typical man way of seeing things as a tendency by default.

The second one or Rule based thinking would fall more in line with duty and obligation and is a conservative decision making approach.  Fear would also be an important measure in using this approach in that if all else fails or to prevent  a person from failing.......follow the rules as stated.and never get into trouble.  I think this is not a gender specific tendency personally in that I can think of people in both genders who rely heavily on this way of thinking to make decisions that are both male and female.

The third one I think by it's very the one that stereo typically women use as their primary means of making decisions as stated.  It require empathy and putting yourself into other shoes in trying to decide the best decision to choose from and make a decision concerning others.  In how I see this in comparison....this is a "trees" way of thinking not a "forest" approach.

This is just my observation when I make these claims about the stereo types.  This is not saying that gender has anything to do with this at all...but to further make a point here.....I wouldn't say this if it was not something I noticed by observation alone.  I have no opinion or judgment behind these claims on gender "tendencies."

But going back to the idea of rationalizing........rationalizing is going to look different depending on which ethical style you apply rationalizing to each one independently.  That means.....those rationalizations that are attempting to undo or counter these ethical ways of thinking by arguing against them....are going to come in different forms depending on which style you apply to them.  The only use this has in trying to identify them is to try and identify who said them and why.  If the case you are applying them to has to do with male and female would make sense to see the most common ones used by either gender and look at the differences between these different ways of seeing things?

In other words....if you are a woman coming from the Care-based ethics and decision making process....then empathy is going to applied first to any decision making process to implement or interpret  this to another persons thinking?

In turn....if a man is coming from a utilitarian way of ethics in his decision making process....that's going to look a bit different in trying to determine how he thinks and the way it's applied to someone seeing it only from a  Care based perspective?

And if all else fails and neither side can come to an agreement in which one is better under the circumstances.....then Rule based thinking is always going to be a safe bet between the two as a default if all else fails.

The problem here as I was thinking about that they are all valid or ethical ways of approaching things or other people.  But none of these ways apply to all cases all the time and that is where the conflict begins. 

In reality....these are just constructs to help us see these differences but also saying that they are all needed by everyone at different times to apply differently depending on the circumstance, time or place.  In theory....if a person only tries to apply one approach or thinking to everyone or everything......this would be an argument that they are ALL needed  ALL at the same time in order to make the right or best ethical decision possible?

Now if you look at the most common forms of rationalizations used to argue against or undo these ethical ways of thinking a means to excuse yourself from them (excuses) can see pretty quickly that these are going to be applied differently depending on which one you use.....

Or in other words.....if the wrong one( or two)  are the ones being used to make your decisions and the actions that would follow....the rationalizations or justifications are only required if you can't account for the third one in order to explain your decisions  to another person and account for the discrepancies?

To say this another way .....would be to say that they would be speaking a different language than you if they do not have the ability to speak from all three ways of ethical thinking (or making an argument in favor of one or the other) and only use one or another in order to make any sense.....or....integrate them all together at the same time in their thinking so everyone can understand their position or point of view.  That speak all three languages as necessary and do it in a way that everyone can understand no matter who you are?

Common Rationalizations (or errors in thinking )

If It’s Necessary, It’s Ethical

This excuse is based on the false assumption that if something is necessary it doesn't matter much how it is done. The approach often leads to ends-justify-the-means reasoning. We tend to fall into the "false necessity trap" because we overestimate the cost of doing the right thing and underestimate the cost of failing to do so.

If It’s Legal, It’s Ethical

Legal requirements (which establish minimal standards of behavior) for personal moral judgment do not cover the full range of ethical obligations. Ethical people often choose to do less than the maximum allowed, but more than the minimally acceptable.

I Was Just Doing It For You

This is a primary justification for committing "little white lies" or withholding important information in personal or professional relationships. Consider the perspective of people lied to: If they discovered the lie, would they thank you for being considerate or would they feel betrayed, patronized or manipulated?

I’m Just Fighting Fire With Fire

This is the false assumption that promise-breaking, lying and deceit are justified if other people are doing it to you.

It Doesn’t Hurt Anyone

This excuse falsely holds that one can violate ethical principles so long as there is no clear and immediate harm to others. Examples are: Asking for or giving special favours to family, friends or public officials, disclosing nonpublic information to benefit others, using one’s position for personal advantage.

Everyone’s Doing It

This is a false "safety in numbers" rationale that assumes that just because many people are doing something it is universally accepted.

It’s OK If I Don’t Gain Personally

This justifies improper conduct done for others on the false assumption that personal gain is the only test of ethical behavior.

I Deserve It

People who feel they are overworked or underpaid rationalize that minor "perks" are  fair compensation for work done. This is also used as an excuse to abuse sick time, insurance claims, overtime, personal phone calls and personal use of office supplies.