The Importance of Critical Thinking in Ethical Decision-making


A successful E&C Professional must be a person of integrity who is a critical thinker and a good listener. – Ethics & Compliance Initiative

Critical thinking does not directly include checking moral aspects and ethics[1], but it can help in ethical decision-making.

Critical thinking is the process of thinking carefully about a topic or idea without allowing feelings or opinions to influence our decision[2] or the process of analyzing information to make a logical decision about the extent to which the decision maker believes something to be true or false[3].

As most thinking happens automatically on an unconscious level, critical thinking is the art of raising what is subconscious in our reasoning to the level of conscious recognition[4].

Also, separating facts from opinions and considering all possible options leads to better decision-making.

Through this type of questioning, the decision-maker primarily develops a mechanism of self-regulation/ self-control, i.e., to take control of his thought process and avoid making decisions automatically or unconsciously, which are frequently tainted by unconscious biases, beliefs, and prejudices.

The goal of critical thinking is for the decision-maker to question his own and others’ biases, reasons, motivations, and views. This questioning is not intended to create confrontations or clashes of opinions but rather to uncover the context of the situation, see all parties’ viewpoints, and understand how each individual thinks.

Critical thinking lets us primarily become critics of our own thinking.
Critical thinking allows us to pause, be objective and open-minded, and analyze issues based on hard evidence rather than our personal opinions. This helps us understand what really happened, rather than what our brains would do automatically.

If an individual who is faced with an ethical dilemma pauses for a moment and uses critical thinking tools to assess the situation they are in, looks at it from different perspectives, identifies potential problems and risks in the short and long term, considers the potential benefits of the parties involved, and removes cognitive bias, then they can make an ethically correct decision more easily.

Integrity (61%), Critical thinking (49%), and Listening Skills (47%) are the three most essential skills of Compliance Professionals (Personal and Leadership Qualities) – Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI survey)

Critical thinking is a part of our Advanced Compliance Skills training course, which we have held for three years.

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy –

[2] Cambridge Dictionary –

[3] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy –

[4] Egan, B. D. (2005) The Role of Critical Thinking in Effective Decision Making. Global Knowledge Network.


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