Applied Summary Ethical Dilemmas

  • Uncategorized

AppliedSummary: Ethical Dilemmas

AppliedSummary: Ethical Dilemmas

Decisionmaking is one of the processes that people cannot avoid in life sincemost of the daily activities that human beings engage in involve theselection of alternatives. People can be denied everything in life,but the right to make choices cannot be taken away from them. This isconfirmed by incidents in which prisoners are confined, but theyretain their mental capacity to make choices (Frankl, 2006, p. 6). Inaddition, people may lack the capacity to control what happens intheir lives, but they can influence their feelings about theirsurroundings by making the right choices. However, the quality ofdecisions that people make depends on ethical theories as well asprinciples that they apply in analyzing the underlying situation.Some of the most common factors that are taken into account whenresolving ethical dilemmas include the consequences of a givenaction, individual are duty, or a set of personal values. In thispaper I will provide an applied summary of the course by discussinghow I use personal values in different moral situations, makedecisions, and conduct myself. I will provide different scenarios toexplain how I would make decisions in specific circumstances.

Principlesused in Moral Philosophy

Peoplemake decisions on a daily basis. However, there are instances whenthey are required to consider the principle applied in moralphilosophy in order to make the right choices. There are three majorprinciples that help people determine whether their decisions areright or wrong. The first principle is the ends-based thinking, whichencourage the decision makers to determine who is helped or hurt by agiven decision (Kidder, 2005, p. 23). Secondly, the principle ofrule-based thinking holds that the decision makers should adhere tothe laws that they expect other people to follow. Decision makerswho follow this principle make choices that help them carry out theirobligations, irrespective of the results of their actions (Kidder,2005, p. 23). Third, the principle of care-based thinking help thedecision makers do what they would wish others to do to them. In mycase, I apply the three principles in different dilemmas depending ontheir nature.

TheRight versus Right Dilemmas

Itis quite common to come across situations that require an individualto make choices where both alternatives are right. The difficultyexperienced in such dilemmas result from the fact that the decisionmaker must take one alternative and foregoes the other one. Theprocess of making choices in some cases may be affected by codes ofethics, while others do not involve the consideration of the laws andregulations (Kidder, 2003, p. 1). The right versus right decisionscan be based on four alternatives. First, the decision maker could berequired to weigh between mercy and justice. Secondly, an individualmay be forced to select between loyalty and truth (Teoro, 2016, p.1). Third, one may be forced to choose either the happiness of thesociety or an individual. Lastly, people may find themselves insituations that require them to select between long-term andshort-term goodness.

Inmy case, I find it quite challenging to make decisions that involvetwo right alternatives. However, I consider myself as a decisionmaker who is guided by the possible consequences of any action. Themotivation to consider the consequences of an action is derived fromthe theory of utilitarianism. The theory holds that an action shouldonly be considered as ethical when it enhances the happiness or thewellbeing of the majority. For example, a scenario that requires meto decide whether to inform my friend and a coworker about theanticipated retrenchment plan would be based on the number of theindividuals who are likely to be happy with either of the choices.Assuming that my coworker intends to buy a house through themortgage, he would be happy to receive the information in advancesince he will postpone the transaction in order to avoid thedifficulty of paying for the apartment without a job. A decision toconceal the information, on the other hand, would make the entireboard of management happy since I am required to observeconfidentiality until the final decision is made and communicatedformally to the affected members of staff. The two choices are right,but concealing the information would make the majority of the peoplehappy, which makes it the right decision for me.

Rightversus Wrong Dilemma

Althougha dilemma that involves the right versus wrong alternatives soundseasier to address, there are some scenarios that need a lot ofsacrifice. The right versus wrong dilemma requires the decisionmakers to weigh between an alternative that is considered by thesociety to be unethical and another option that is ethical (Kidder,2003, p. 19). In most cases, decision makers who encounter suchscenarios make choices depending on whether they value their duty todo what is considered by the society to be good or think about thenature of the outcome of their actions. The fact that individualsconsider dissimilar factors when making choices make choices impliesthat it is possible for two people to arrive at different decisionswhen evaluating a single scenario.

Inmy case, I am guided by the consequence of the available alternativeswhen resolving the right versus wrong dilemmas. For example,employers give contracts that do not allow their members of staff toengage in related activities or business that would result in adirect competition. A dilemma may arise when a contracted employeeattracts more clients that his employer can handle. The employee hasto decide whether to direct the excess clients to a competitor andearn a commission or tell them that the employer is already operatingat a full capacity. In such a scenario, I would consider the outcomeof the two alternatives and select an option that has more netbenefit. In this scenario, a decision to inform the excess clientsthat my employer is operating at a full capacity would be the rightalternative. Sending the customers to a competitor for a commissionwould be the wrong alternative. Although I would violate the terms ofcontract by sending the excess clients to a competitor, I would makea financial gain without affecting the performance of my employer’sbusiness. Therefore, I would consider the outcome of my decisionsince it is more significant than the duty to observe the employmentcontract.

TheInfluence of the Core Values in the Process of Resolving EthicalDilemmas

Apartfrom the influence of the consequences and the duty to do what thesociety considers to be good, there are people who are guided bydifferent core values when resolving ethical dilemmas (Christensen &ampBoneck, 2010, p. 54). However, a conflict may arise when personal andprofessional values direct the decision maker to contradictingsituations. Examples of personal values include compassion, decency,and respect (Kidder, 2005, p. 15). Some of the key professionalvalues that are supported by organizations include integrity,honesty, and loyalty. Although these core values are positive innature, they might subject decision makers to ethical dilemmas. Anindividual who bases the decision making process on the core valuesis likely to arrive at the same conclusion with someone who appliesthe concept of virtue ethics. Virtue ethics focuses on the moralcharacter, instead of duty and consequences. Moral character, on theother hand is influenced by the values that the decision makerupholds.

Mostof the corporate scandals involve intelligent accounting whereemployees in the finance dockets are forced by their managers toalter the financial reports. The objective of falsifying thefinancial records is to protect the company from being wound up as aresult of issues of insolvency. Cases of intelligent account arecommon during the times of economic crisis when managers are temptedto engage in fraud to rescue the going concern of their businesses(Kidder, 2003, p. 222). Winding up of a company means that allemployees will lose jobs, while the alteration of the financialstatements is inconsistent with the legal as well as the ethicalguidelines. Personally, I would be guided by the concept of virtueethics and observe the core values when making the decision. Beinghonest when preparing and presenting the financial records would hurtall employees and the shareholders. However, I would observeprofessional values (such as honesty), instead of being compassionatewith the members of staff who are likely to lose their employment.Although I am guided by the outcome of my actions in the right versuswrong and the right versus right dilemmas, there are some specialsituations that force me to consider my moral character before myduty and the consequence of decisions that I make.

Ethicsin the 21stCentury

Althoughthe three philosophical principles are still relevant in the twentyfirst century, there are emerging situations that present morecomplex dilemmas. For example, the issue of euthanasia has beencontroversial for several years. Some people argue that human beingshave the right to make the end of life choices (Kidder, 2003, p.214). The opponents of this idea hold that the end of life is beyondhuman control. Personally, I would apply the ethical principle ofautonomy when making the end of life choices. By applying theprinciple of autonomy, I will be able to defend an idea that I havethe right to make choices on all issues that affect my life withoutbeing influenced by external forces. Similarly, I believe that otherpeople have unlimited autonomy to make choices on issues that affecttheir bodies and their lives. Therefore, I have no right to preventpeople from making the end of life choices since they are autonomoushuman beings.

Inaddition, the number of people who use their intelligence to causetrouble to others has increased in the twenty first century. Forexample, there are people who spend their time and intelligence indeveloping computer viruses that trouble other users of the moderntechnology (Kidder, 2003, p. 212). I would judge the moral basis ofthe actions of these computer scientists using the principle ofnon-maleficence, which holds that no one should engage in activitiesthat cause harm to others. On the contrary, the computer scientistsshould utilize the principle of beneficence, which require thedecision makers to select activities that bring about good to othersor minimize harm. Consequently, computer scientists should use theirintelligence to develop anti-virus programs in order to help theusers of the modern technology to minimize the harm caused by theviruses. Alternatively, they can develop programs that help peopleuse their computers more efficiently. Therefore, the twenty firstcentury presents unique dilemmas, but they can be analyzed andresolved using the conventional ethical theories as well asprinciples.


Theoriesand principles of ethics help people make decisions that are morallyright. In addition, these theories and principles can be used tojudge the actions of other people by determining whether they arewrong or right. There are many factors that people consider whenmaking decisions. However, many people assess the possible outcome ortheir duty to engage in certain activities. People who are motivatedby the outcome of their actions when making choices determine thenumber of people who are likely to be affected negatively and thosewho will be impacted positively. The alternative course of actionthat seems to impact more people positively is considered to bemorally right. The concept of duty, on the other hand, motivatespeople to take actions that help them fulfill what would beconsidered to be their obligation under normal circumstances. The keyfactors that people consider when making choices depend on the natureof the dilemma that is being analyzed. The most challengingsituations involve the selection of alternatives that are bothconsidered by the society to be ethical.


Christensen,S. &amp Boneck, R. (2010). Four questions for analyzing theright-versus-right dilemmas of managers. Journalof Business Case Studies,6 (3), 53-58.

Frankl,V. (2006). Man’ssearch for meaning.Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Kidder,R. M. (2003). Howgood people make tough choices: Resolving the dilemmas of ethicalliving.New York: Quill/Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

Kidder,M. (2005). Howgood people make tough choices: Resolving the dilemmas of ethicalliving.Camden: Institute of Global Ethics.

Teoro,E. (Ed.) (2016). Annualeditions: Business ethics 16/17.New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Close Menu