Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model and the Concept of Human Rights

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 5
Words: 1433
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7 min
Study level: PhD


In the public sector, ethics deals with the basic premise of public administration (Menzel, 2012). In this case, ethics can be defined as the moral rationalization for decisions and actions made in the process of undertaking daily duties (Menzel, 2012). In most cases, ethics matters a lot during the provision of services of the government and non-governmental organizations (Parsons, 2008; Cooper & Menzel, 2013). Based on these facts, this essay discusses issues regarding Cooper’s ethical decision-making model and the concept of human rights, which are important elements of democracy.

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Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model and its Application

Cooper has come up with a model consisting of four stages that can be used in making the most appropriate decisions in a situation of an ethical dilemma (Cooper, 2012; Rainey, 2009). The first stage is the descriptive task level (Cooper, 2012). In this case, Cooper argues that one must first collect enough factual information and filter out groundless judgments before coming up with a complete and an objective description (Cooper, 2012). Cooper encourages administrators to identify the crucial actors, the viewpoint of each actor, the issues that are involved, the sequence of events and the inherent risks (Cooper, 2012).

Defining the ethical issue is the next stage in the Cooper’s model (Cooper, 2012). According to Cooper, there are certain conflicting values and principles that underlie the practical considerations (Cooper, 2012). The issues at this stage are with respect to conflicting obligation and loyalty (Cooper, 2012). Failing to consider the underlying ethical issues may imply that a problem is to be solved on a purely practical basis (Cooper, 2012). This means that a decision may be made without paying attention to the necessary principles and values (Cooper, 2012).

Identifying alternative courses of action is the next stage (Cooper, 2012). According to Cooper, this means that an administrator needs to identify alternative solutions to an ethical dilemma. Any possible alternative should not be rejected at this stage (Cooper, 2012).

The other stage is that of projecting the probable consequences (Cooper, 2012). At this stage, an administrator is required to engage the use of moral imaginations (Cooper, 2012). Besides, the administrator should be able to decide on solutions that are morally achievable (Cooper, 2012).

As an administrator thinks about the probable positive and negative consequences of each course of action, he or she is forced to imagine what each of the consequences will look like as it manifest in the future (Cooper, 2012). The last stage involves finding a fit. This process is described as non-linear in nature (Cooper, 2012). At this stage, achieving solutions entails a search for appropriate fits from the first four elements (Cooper, 2012).

The Chosen Ethical Dilemma

My aspiration is to become the library director of Clayton County Library System one day. Accordingly, I anticipate that one of the ethical dilemmas I am likely to face will be how to deal with an allegation of corruption that may be leveled against any of the library officials (Baturo, 2010; Figueiredo, 2013). It is important to note that corruption is a serious issue that may affect the reputation of an individual working in a public organization (Sulzner, 2009).

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Therefore, dealing with an allegation of corruption may have an ethical dilemma, especially when there is no express evidence (Sulzner, 2009). Therefore, I plan to use Cooper’s ethical decision-making model to deal with such an ethical dilemma. The next paragraphs render a response that is predicated on Cooper’s model.

The first step to take is that I will gather more facts about an allegation of corruption (Cooper, 2012). This will correspond to Cooper’s stage of the descriptive task. Once I will have gathered the facts, I will filter the available information to do away with speculative judgments so as to come up with an objective description (Cooper, 2012). I will also consult the officials who work closely with the accused person in order to find out more about his or her conduct (Meine & Dunn, 2013).

In the second stage, I define the ethical issue in the allegation of corruption. This will correspond to Cooper’s stage of defining the ethical issue (Cooper, 2012). As such, I will seek to define the conflicting ethical issues. Thus, I will categorically note that corruption is against the policy of the library and anybody found guilty of it will have to be appropriately disciplined (Meine & Dunn, 2013). Here, the conflicting issue may involve the need to serve the public and the want to satisfy personal interests, a situation that definitely represents a conflict of interests.

After establishing the ethical violation, the third stage will be to identify the alternative courses of action, which will entail different alternative solutions. The solutions may involve a warning, a summary dismissal, or fine the culprit. The next step will entail projecting the probable consequences of each course of action, which will require my moral imagination. This stage corresponds to Cooper’s stage of projecting the probable consequences.

After considering the alternative courses of action on a moral basis, I will then find a fit among the alternatives (Cooper, 2012). Hence, I will choose an alternative that will serve to deter future cases of corruption and also punish the culprit. Hence, I will summarily dismiss the person, if he or she is found guilty of corruption. The Cooper’s ethical decision-making model will have assisted me to deal with the situation (Cooper, 2012).

An Analysis of the Concept of Human Rights

Human rights can be defined as freedoms that are established by specific customs or international agreements that impose specific standards of behavior on all nations (Oh, 2011). It is important to note that human rights are distinct from civil liberties, which are defined as the freedoms that are created by the law of a specific state and are applied by that state within its own jurisdiction (Prifogle, 2013).

Nonetheless, there are specific human rights to which a human being is inherently entitled to: personal liberty, life, due process and security among others. Human rights laws protect individuals against torture, slavery and arbitrary detention (Huhn, 2011). Notably, human rights apply to any individual irrespective of his or her gender, race, religion or sexual orientation (Altiparmak, 2008).

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Human rights have a long history of development (Huyssen, 2011). The concept of human rights emerged as an explicit category during the Age of Enlightenment (Huyssen, 2011). During the period, every individual was considered to be an autonomous entity with naturally inalienable fundamental rights that could not be taken away by the government (Huyssen, 2011). Since then, the concept of human rights has developed to be viewed as elementary precondition for an existence befitting a human dignity (Huyssen, 2011).

Some scholars have also documented that the modern human rights laws were created out of theories and customs that created the rights of individuals against a state (Simmons, 2009). The rights were expressed in legal terms like the Bill of Rights of 1688, the United States’ Bill of Rights that formed part of the country’s constitution in 1789, the United States’ Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens, which became a part of the French Constitutions in 1791 (Orend, 2009). Currently, the international human rights are protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; to date, human rights are protected at an international level (Morsink, 2011).

Dynamism of Human Rights

The concept of human rights is dynamic in nature (Cardenas, 2010). The dynamism is due to the fact that the rights have developed over time. For instance, human rights are constantly changing as new ones are established. Even though human rights had existed during the 1600s, women’s rights emerged around 1848, which represents a gradual change in the nature of human rights. It is also worth noting that the elements of human rights have been changing with time (Henner, 2009).

Remarkably, in the recent times, new rights have emerged in recognition of gays and lesbians as necessary members of the society (Stein, 2012). Therefore, it is clear that what used to be illegal have become integral parts of human rights; this is indicative of the dynamic nature of human rights (Stein, 2012).


Ethics and human rights are important elements of the society. In this case, ethics is an integral part of public administration (Menzel, 2012). Different public leaders face varied forms of ethical dilemmas, which can be dealt with through the use of Cooper’s ethical decision-making model (Cooper, 2012). Human rights have been defined as international norms that assist in the process of protecting all individuals everywhere from harsh legal, political and social cruelties.


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