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The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action

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The Eight Key Questions (8KQ)

The Eight Key Questions reflect the best of humanity’s ethical reasoning traditions. The Madison Collaborative operationalized these into a flexible and open framework to be used as prompts at the point of decision making. The questions, which can be voiced in first or second person and stated using culturally diverse content, highlight eight vital human values: fairness, outcomes, responsibilities, character, liberty, empathy, authority, and rights.  These values may be expressed by different words, e.g. outcomes as “consequences,” “results,” “the future,” or “karma,” or in different languages, e.g. consecuencia (Spanish).  Each names a distinctive—we believe cross-culturally common—ethical consideration.

Fairness - How can I act equitably and balance legitimate interests?

Outcomes - What achieves the best short- and long-term outcomes for me and all others?

Responsibilities - What duties and/or obligations apply?

Character - What action best reflects who I am and the person I want to become?

Liberty - How does respect for freedom, personal autonomy, or consent apply?

Empathy - What would I do if I cared deeply about those involved?

Authority - What do legitimate authorities (e.g. experts, law, my religion/god) expect of me?

Rights - What rights (e.g. innate, legal, social) apply?


Request wallet-sized 8KQ cards for yourself, your students, or your organization.