Modelling complex ethical decision problems with operations research
This paper discusses the practical contribution of operations research (OR) techniques to modelling decision-making problems with ethical dimensions. Such problems are frequent in the global world: they frequently appear today in sustainability issues, e.g., in conflicts in the triangle of society, economy and environment. We show that the prerequisites for ethical problem-modelling are: the definition of moral principles, the evaluation of the decision context, the participation of stakeholders, the multidisciplinary collection of data, and the understanding of systemic interconnections. Classical OR instruments, mainly used in logistics and optimisation problems, are not entirely satisfactory for coping with the new ethical dimensions of sustainability. It is recommended to use and to develop more advanced, or combined instruments from the multi-criteria/multi-stakeholder and systemic streams of OR. It is argued that an important added value of using OR techniques for modelling today ethical issues lies at least as much in the discovery of open questions as in finding closed-form solutions.
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Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
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