Data Analyst Dilemma-Tony Case Study
Data Analyst Dilemma – What should Tony do?
Directions: Based on the facts as presented in the following scenario, say how the three major ethical theories we have studied in class (Virtue Ethics, Duty Ethics or Deontology and Utilitarianism) would each evaluate the morality of Tony’s actions and how each would come to a judgment about what the most morally acceptable thing is that Tony should do: Tony, a data analyst for a major casino, is working after normal business hours to finish an important project that must be ready the following morning. He realizes that he is missing some key data that had been wrongly sent to his coworker Robert. He could get the data from Robert tomorrow but then he would look bad for mismanaging the data flow and not having the project ready to present.
A few days ago, Tony had inadvertently observed Robert typing in his password for his pc, and so he decides to go ahead and log into Robert’s computer and resend the data to himself thinking no one will ever know. Upon doing so, however, Tony sees an open email regarding gambling bets Robert placed over the last several days from work with a local sports book. All employees of the casino are expressly forbidden to engage in gambling activities to avoid any hint of conflict of interest. Robert could be fired for his violation of the casino’s gambling policy.
Tony knows he should report Robert to their supervisor but then he would have to admit to violating the company’s information technology regulations regarding privacy for logging into Robert’s computer without permission, for which Tony could possibly get fired. Even if he warns Robert to stop his betting, he would still have to reveal the illicit source of his information to Robert which would be embarrassing and hypocritical Tony feels; and, he could not be sure Robert would stop gambling anyway.
What should Tony do?
The assignment calls for a Virtue Ethics, Duty Ethics and a Utilitarian analysis of a person’s actions in a particular situation. Please think through and evaluate the person’s actions carefully from these moral perspectives. What seems obvious at first glance from a conventional point of view may not be sufficient for a more thoroughgoing moral analysis based on these moral principles.
Virtue Ethics involves the pursuit of moral excellence through the practice of virtuous behaviors. Duty Ethics requires an evaluation of actions using the moral principles of Respect (=not using other as means to end) or Generalizability (how would it be if everyone acted this way?) regardless of consequences. Utilitarianism argues that we should do what produces the greatest good for the greatest number, so this perspective requires a careful analysis of all consequences to all involved parties.
It is apparent that Tony is in a critical ethical dilemma, and his scenario can be analysed from three perspectives: Virtue Ethics, Duty Ethics and Utilitarianism.
Virtue Ethics calls for observance of morals in line with virtuous behaviour (Mackey & Sisodia, 2014). Tony lacks virtue ethics because he has infringed the privacy rights of Robert for accessing his PC without Robert’s knowledge or permission. Besides, Tony has violated the company’s information technology regulations on privacy. As such, from Virtue of Ethics point of view, Tony has no grounds to report Robert for gambling because he has not conformed to the virtuous behaviour. If indeed Tony wants to be seen as virtuous, then while reporting Robert he should also report that he has violated the company’s information technology regulations on privacy and that he is ready for any discipline or action against him that might be taken by the company.
Duty Ethics involves evaluating actions using the morals principles, and in this ethical dilemma scenario, Tony was morally wrong. With the moral principles being the main element of duty ethics, Tony lacks them while accessing Robert’s PC. It would be ethically justifiable for Tony to fail to present the report the following morning, and give out the reasons why he was unable to do so. In line with Duty Ethics, Tony will be right to report Robert. It is true he has violated the company’s regulations, but if he is to observe moral principles, then he should not hesitate to inform the management about Robert’s violation of the company policies.
From utilitarianism perspective, Tony is justified to access Robert PC to acquire the much-needed data. Tony is working on the project, and usually, projects have many stakeholders. Failure to present the project the following morning will inconvenience a lot of people. Tony’s justification to violate company rules can be equated to O’Toole & Vogel (2011) argument that “in business, it is often difficult to do well by doing good” (p. 67) On the same note, Tony cannot report Robert since Robert’s act affects Casino gambling policy only.