Choose one of the following scenarios and discuss how each of the five components of wise judgments can be applied to the scenario you have chosen. Then, make a decision based on the five components. Explain the rationale behind your decision.
A man has had a difficult time finding a job that pays enough to support his family. He has finally landed the job and has been working for six months. He discovers that his manager is engaging in illegal activities on the job.
In this scenario, it would seem that the man has three choices. He can change his environment and quit the job. He can change nothing and hope that he doesn’t get caught engaging in illegal activities. He could also choose to shape his new environment and risk receiving both of the mentioned negative consequences. There are of course negatives and positives to each course of action. If the man quits his job he will not have to worry about suffering the negative consequences associated with the illegal activity; however, he will be out a job and in need of money to support his family. On the other hand, if he does nothing and engages in illegal activities he may keep his job, but only at the risk of even bigger losses if he gets caught. Lastly, if the man decides to remain employed but not engage in illegal activities he could lose his job and/or suffer negative consequences for perceived illegal activities. The five components of wise judgment will help better contextualize this complex situation and deduce the wisest route.
The components of wise judgment are broken down into five categories: factual knowledge about matters of life, procedural knowledge, lifespan contextualism, recognition and management of uncertainty, and relativism regarding solutions (Bolt, 2004). The first category, factual knowledge about matters of life, pertains to the areas of human nature and social norms. The specific area of social norms hits hardest when considering the situation entailing the man remaining on the job while committing illegal activities. Illegal activities are of course outside of the realm of social norms and therefore carry with them severe consequences. The area of human nature also speaks to this particular situation, in that it is conceivable to predict the resulting behavior of the manager given any of the three choices. For instance, the manager is the one putting pressure on the man to commit illegal crimes and thus would not react positively to the man not conforming to his demands. The manager will nevertheless react positively if the man does conform to his demands. It is important to keep both of these examples of human nature in mind when considering the situation.
The next component of wise judgment is procedural knowledge which has to do with methods of handling conflict, and strategies for dealing with life’s problems and weighing goals. It is always a good idea to plan for the worst and anticipate the best. In this case, it would be extremely beneficial for the man to start looking for a new job if he were to choose not to commit illegal acts. Also if he chooses not to commit the illegal acts he will need to start considering how to confront his manager about the situation.
Lifespan contextualism refers to, “Knowledge about the different roles and contexts of life…and how these may change over the life span.” (Bolt, 2004, 94). As far as this situation goes, it might be beneficial to consider the life situation of the manager and how much he depends on this job. If the job is his or her lifeblood, then the man can expect a more severe reaction if he chooses to confront the manager.
Furthermore, recognition and management of uncertainty include both the realization that the future is uncertain and the realization that human knowledge is limited, and the understanding that there may actually be no perfect solution to the problem. This latter understanding is fundamental when understanding the implications of any decision. The man must realize that he is choosing the lesser of two evils. There will be consequences no matter what he chooses to do. Understanding this at the onset will help moderate the stress associated with losing a job or committing illegal acts.
Lastly, relativism regarding solutions entails the ability to perceive individual and cultural differences in values and life priorities. This component of wise judgment is what may help the man come to the correct way of dealing with this situation. Is the short-term gain of employment worth the long-term loss of incarceration or fines? The man must prioritize what is most important to him at that time.
After considering the five components of wise judgment, in the context of this particular situation, a conclusion on the matter of which choice the man should make can be made. He cannot choose to quit his job without first lining up another job or else risk financial suicide. This choice would most likely involve procedural knowledge, in that he would not be weighing his goals properly if he were to quit his job haphazardly. This is a possible solution if he can find some way to not commit illegal acts for a finite amount of time while he finds a new job. This is however very unlikely considering that the manager already is asking him to commit the illegal acts. In the end, this is not a solution but an escape and an ill-formed one at that.
Second, he cannot change anything and commit illegal acts. If he were to do that he would be ignoring the components of factual knowledge about matters of life and relativism regarding solutions. As far as factual knowledge about matters of life goes, he would be violating social norms and consequently would be liable for fines and jail time. It would not be wise to ignore the law (social norms) and think that he could get away with the illegal activities. Also, he would be violating his own life priorities (relativism regarding solutions) by not balancing his long-term interests against perceived short-term gains. In all, it would be a net loss almost definitely if he proceeded to commit illegal acts and do nothing.
Lastly, it sometimes seems that the greatest rewards are always accompanied by the greatest risk. The most proactive course that the man could achieve would be to remain in his position and shape his new environment by not quitting and not committing illegal acts. There is much risk that goes along with this course. The manager could flat out fire the man if he is not willing to commit illegal acts. He could also get blamed for committing illegal acts as a scapegoat. But if he could somehow wisely confront the manager and refuse to commit the illegal activities while at the same time reassuring the manager that he is willing to properly expedite his duties, then he might be able to keep his job for now. While in the meantime he could find another job that does not include illegal acts but can still support his family. Recognition and management of uncertainty will play an important part in this course of action. He will have to realize that there is no perfect solution; that he is choosing from a short list of bad choices.
In conclusion, I did not consider the man telling the authorities about the illegal activity because that would most like result in the man’s termination or the closing of the business in question. Otherwise, the only wise decision seems to be to try to stay at the job long enough to find a new job without committing any illegal acts.
Bolt, M. (2004). Pursuing human strengths: A positive psychology guide. New York, NY: Worth.