20/01/2013 12:35

The limits of intuition in ethical decisions making

The limits of intuition in ethical decisions making

The main characteristic of intuition is the fact that the decision is made not on a logically conducted manner or on the base of data, but based on unconscious scheme of mind in relation to experiences, feeling and supposed argumentation. If intuition can be a very useful tool for experienced people in time of crisis where decision needs to be made quickly, it can be arbitrary to use intuition as the principal way of decision making. In the intuitive decision making process, “the process is dominated by your subconscious mind, even if you use your conscious mind to formulate or rationalize the final results”, (Time management guide).

 Another key element is that the decision is made based on emotion and not on rationally organized thoughts. A critical thinker might find it very difficult to spouse intuitive approach in decision making, even though I have to recall here that it can be also useful in quicker decision making. When the decision is sustained by experiences, it feels like I have seen that already. But a single element that might be different can cause the result to be different. Like we normally say in reasoning, the same causes in the same conditions will provide the same results. However, when we delve deep inside this common adage, we discover that in details, there is always a fine piece of difference somewhere that might impact differently the results. That is, the information is analyzed during the decision making process more in “parallel rather than sequentially” (Time management guide).

According to Johnson (2011), “Rational thought, problem solving, and other cognitive skills and strategies are important complements to care and compassion in ethical crisis management. Moral leaders respond with their heads as well as their hearts. In particular, they are highly mindful and engage in strategic and ethical rational thinking. (Followers must also engage their heads as well as their hearts” (Johnson, 2011, p.430). In his answer to student about the difference between decision making based on intuition versus data analysis, Bob Sutton (2009) wrote “my view is that intuition and analysis are not opposing perspectives, but tag team partners” ( Type pad).What we can learn from this debate, there is no single way of decision making. However, if the rational way of thinking has the power to organize and thoroughly evaluate data before decision making, the intuitive thinking linked to a high level of emotional intelligence is important in crisis management. The main dangers in using only intuition in decision making are: Being too emotional, rely on feelings more than being thinker, being suggestive than objective.


Bob Sutton. (2009). Intuition vs. Data-Driven Decision-Making: Some Rough Ideas. Retrieved on November 24, 2012 from http://bobsutton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/11/intuition-vs-datadriven-decisionmaking-some-rough-ideas.html

Johnson, C. E. (2012). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

The power of intuition in decision making. (2005). Retrieved on November 23, 2012 from http://www.time-management-guide.com/intuition-decision-making.html

Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2007). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases (7th ed.). Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.






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