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Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917.

[Detail] Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917

Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision Making: Asking Ethical Questions

When activists decide what actions to take in seeking change, they must consider ethics, questions about what actions are morally right. Different approaches to ethical questions exist, each based on a different definition of ethical behavior.

  • Rights-based approaches define an ethical action as doing one’s duty and supporting ethical principles, such as justice, equality, and the rule of law.
  • Results-based approaches define an ethical action as one where the benefits outweigh the costs.
  • Reputation-based approaches define an ethical action as one consistent with good character.
  • Relationship-based approaches define an ethical action as one that helps build a healthy community.

Evaluate the course of action taken by the NWP in securing the passage of the 19th Amendment, focusing particularly on parades, picketing, and hunger strikes. According to the four ethical approaches described briefly above, were these actions ethical? Are some ethical according to one approach and not another? In which approaches would the effectiveness of a strategy weigh into ethical decision-making? What strategies would you have recommended to Alice Paul and Lucy Burns in 1913 based on your ethical analysis?