Santa Clara University

Ethics Center Blog
Bookmark and Share

At the Center

Back to Blog

Ethics: There’s an App for That

Friday, Mar. 21, 2014


Facing a difficult decision—one where you don’t know the right thing to do?  Well, get out your phone because the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University has just released the iPhone app, “Ethical Decision Making: A Practical Tool for Thinking Through Tough Choices.”

The free app guides users through a step-by-step process, which begins by getting the facts and identifying the stakeholders in the situation.  Then it takes users through five classic ethical approaches—Utility, Rights, Justice, Common Good, and Virtue—posing questions such as “Does this action produce the most good and do the least harm for all who are affected?” and “Does this action treat people equally or proportionally?”  Finally, users weight the different approaches and get a score that indicates whether their thinking is on the right track or whether they should evaluate another option.

The app draws on the Ethics Center’s popular “Framework for Ethical Decision Making,” which has been online for almost 20 years  and viewed more than a million times.  Apple co-founder A.C. “Mike” Markkula Jr., who chaired the Center’s Advisory Board when the Framework was developed, commented, "It's like magic! The new "Ethical Decision Making" app turns the center's classic ‘Framework’ into an interactive assistant right in your hand—amazing!"

As Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson explains, “The Center has always believed that we need a deliberate method to make good ethical decisions.  We’ve used the Framework for many years, and we’re delighted to offer it in a new medium that may be particularly attractive to a new generation.”

A party celebrating the app launch will take place April 15, 5:30-6:30 p.m., in the Arts & Sciences Building on the Santa Clara University campus.  Markkula and Hanson will offer comments.  Join us for refreshments and a demo of “Ethical Decision Making.”

 Follow us on Twitter: #ethicsapp