The Morality of Reporting Safety Concerns in Aviation

The Morality of Reporting Safety Concerns in Aviation

Kawtar Tani (UCOL, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch278

Abstract

Previous investigation into the morality of actions suggested that individuals' level of cognitive moral development, strongly influences their decisions regarding what is right or wrong, and focuses upon the rights, duties and obligations involved in a particular ethical situation. Using the cognitive moral development framework, this research sought to explore the moral reasoning behind aviation employees' intentions to report wrongdoing in the aviation context. Findings indicated that a significant association between participants' intentions to intervene in a wrongdoing situation, and their level of moral reasoning exists. Specifically, the modal level of participants' moral reasoning was consistent with the Conventional level of moral theories, and was higher for participants who stated that they would intervene, than for participants who stated they would not intervene in a wrongdoing situation.
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Main Focus Of The Study

There are two frameworks within which under-reporting of aviation wrongdoing could be explored: a moral framework, and an evolutionary framework. The moral framework assumes that the person witnessing wrongdoing does what they believe to be the ‘right thing’, within the limits of their understanding of right and wrong. In other words, participants’ responses could be related to their level of moral development. Kohlberg’s (1976) and Gilligan’s (1982) cognitive moral development theories are two prominent theories which propose that individuals’ progress in stages of moral reasoning and tend to operate at a particular stage at any point in time. Kohlberg’s cognitive stages of moral development propose that an individual’s level of cognitive moral development strongly influences their decision regarding what is right or wrong and focuses upon the rights, duties and obligations involved in a particular ethical situation. Contrarily, Gilligan defines ethical issues mainly in terms of helping others and minimising harm and argues that moral behaviour results from meeting one’s obligations and responsibilities to others.

As the level of people’s moral judgment can be raised by education (Kohlberg, 1984; Oderman, 2002; Peters, 2015), the first aim of this study was to investigate aviation employees’ level of moral reasoning when confronted with wrongdoing situations. If a relationship between reporting intentions and moral development is suggested, then ethics education may be one means by which under-reporting in aviation can be reduced. The following hypothesis was therefore proposed:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pre-Conventional Level: For Kohlberg, this level is where behaviour is motivated by anticipation of pleasure or pain. For Gilligan, this level is characterised by caring for the self in order to ensure survival. In this level, women begin to see connections between themselves and others.

Ethics: A set of standards of right and wrong, good and bad.

Gilligan’s Moral Development Theory: An alternative theory to Kohlberg’s theory, proposed by Gilligan (1982) that argues that ethical decisions based on justice and fairness were incomplete. Gilligan called her theory “ethics of caring”, it is a stage theory of moral development for women grouped into three major levels: pre-conventional, conventional, and post conventional. For Gilligan, the transitions between the stages are dependent on changes of the self and the environment in which the self lives, rather than the Kohlbergian changes in cognitive capability.

Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory: A theory proposed by Kohlberg (1976) in which he described six stages of moral reasoning grouped into three major levels: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. Kohlberg believed that individuals could only progress through these stages one stage at a time; one cannot get to a higher stage without passing through the stage immediately preceding it. Individuals could only come to comprehending a moral rational one stage above their own.

Wrongdoing: In the context of this study, wrongdoing is used to imply instances of behaving or acting in a way that is inconsistent with safety practices, not limited to practices that are against the law.

Morality: The application of ethical standards.

Conventional Level: For Kohlberg, this level is about acceptance of the rules and standards of one’s group. For Gilligan, this level is characterised by responsibility: ‘Good’ is equated with caring for others.

Post-Conventional Level: For Kohlberg, this level is where ethical principles are considered. For Gilligan, this level is characterised by the focus on eliminating tensions between self and others, and accepting the principle of care as a universal ethical principle which condemns exploitation and hurt in our life and others.

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