Acting ethically means taking values seriously and asking ‘what should I do, all things considered?’
We can’t question everything we do, but, whether we notice it or not, our values often influence the decisions we make in our personal, social and profession lives. For centuries philosophers have wrestled with how to do this better.
While there are no easy answers, their advice includes:
The Food Ethics Council aims to make ethical decision-making standard practice in the food sector - in government, businesses and civil society. We have helped to develop a variety of tools to facilitate ethical thinking, deliberation and action. In particular, we have played a significant part in developing and disseminating a framework for decision-making called the Ethical Matrix. The matrix is widely used in the UK and internationally.
We work through a distinctive style of deliberative workshop, designed to help people from across the food system discuss contentious issues in a constructive and practical way.
We use the ethical matrix by taking three important ethical principles (respect for welfare, autonomy and fairness) and asking what they mean for different stakeholders or interest groups.
This is a general framework and can be used for scoping individual or organisational responsibilities, thinking through difficult trade-offs and deliberating with stakeholders. It is designed to clarify issues and justify decisions to others.