The Morality of Reporting Safety Concerns in Aviation

The Morality of Reporting Safety Concerns in Aviation

Kawtar Tani (UCOL, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7661-7.ch005


A previous investigation into the morality of actions suggested that individuals' levels of cognitive moral development strongly influence their decisions regarding what is right or wrong, and focused upon the rights, duties, and obligations involved in a particular ethical situation. Using the cognitive moral development framework, this chapter 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:

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