The “Values” quadrant of the Potter Box method is by far the most important to the process of ethical decision making. In the quadrant, a person or group will look at different values that will influence the final decision. Analyzing and comparing different values are key to this aspect of ethical decision making. It is not the values of the decision makers, but of those who have been affected by a situation that creates an ethical dilemma. Viewing the situation from different perspectives is also key to making the best and most ethical decision. Those perspectives may include aesthetics, logic and morality.
This is the “why” portion of the Potter Box and to me, ethics as a whole is something that people have to decide on, not a certain methodology or process. The “values” portion is putting the decision making directly in the hands of the people that are making said decision.
Everyone has a value system, some have more than others, and those values differ greatly from person to person. That means that everyone can make ethical decisions based on their values, and what they are interpreting as the values in someone else’s situation.
Definitions, and principles are handy in their own regard, but they are also impersonal and not allowing for any change in what one situation may have differences from the initial precedent. In terms of loyalties, that to me is a dangerous area. I’ve always been told not to make big decisions based on my emotions and initial feelings unless absolutely necessary. That is why that portion of the Potter Box does not carry as much weight to me as the values portion does.
The Potter Box allows for all people to make decisions based on what they are comfortable with, and for me, that portion is the values portion. I would not shut out the other portions, but there will always be a premium placed when it comes to values.