Making Ethical Decisions As A Language Translator

As a language translation worker, you must have a strong knowledge of business ethics and how to make ethical decisions.  Ethical decision making primarily follows one of two schools of thought that include the utility based approach and the morality based approach.

The utility based approach is best described as an ethical decision framework that places the greatest value on choices that benefit the largest number of people while causing the least amount of harm to others.   For example, suppose that you owned a company that provides Houston translation services.   A client approaches you and offers to hire you to translate his marketing collateral for a highly addicted drug that has recently been linked to cancer, heart attacks and Alzheimer’s disease.  Translating these materials will benefit stockholders, pharmacies, production equipment manufacturers and raw material suppliers.  Yet, scientific studies prove that far more people are harmed than are helped with this drug and that better and less costly pharmaceuticals are available. In fact, numerous studies show people on this medication dramatically increase insurance premiums for the population as a whole.  Using a utility-based ethical test, it is obvious that translating promotional materials that support this dangerous pharmaceutical is an unethical act.

A morality based ethical approach is grounded on following a set of known laws or guidelines.  Such rules can be established through societal or religious doctrines, such as the Ten Commandments or passed enacted by ruling officials.  They might even come from accepted social expectations such as people shouldn’t be dishonest, engage in fraud, or commit robbery. In a strict morality-centered model, being dishonest is unethical regardless of whether the results of being dishonest benefit help others.   In a more relaxed system, “white lies” may be tolerable if they tend to benefit others.  To demonstrate the morality based approach, we can review the pharmaceutical example. Throughout the world, virtually every country has labeling laws pertaining to the known risks improper use of products and the exposure to unsafe pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other products.  With this in mind, your client’s promotional material may be fictionally accurate but technically deceitful.  This is particularly true of the promotional materials show people using a product in an unsafe manner or displaying active and healthy people using the pharmaceutical that we discussed above.

A Miami translation services worker also points out those translation workers who knowing use ideas, writing, drawings, and research generated by someone else without their permission are also unethical under the morality based framework of ethical decision making.

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