What is an ethical dilemma? The word ‘ethical dilemma’ is self–explanatory. It indicates confusion related to the ethics of a person. Ethical dilemma is a complex situation which often originates from conflict between the moral imperatives of two persons. In some cases, this confusion may arise within a single person when his/her moral principles cannot determine the right course of action. It may also occur between people and often occurs due to conflicts in ideologies. An ethical dilemma can happen anywhere and anytime but, it’s most oft repeated occurrence is seen in workplaces. This is because of the diversity of the people there. People in a workplace come from various cultural and moral back grounds and so, the chances of conflict are higher. Workplaces usually have definite patterns of action which may contrast with the ideologies of an employee or vice versa. This may result in an internal conflict in the employee resulting in confusion on what should be done and what shouldn’t. This article illustrates ethical dilemma and also deals with the ways to resolve it. Browse down to read more!
Moral dilemma Examples
Ethical dilemma may arise due to a conflict between the professional and personal values of a person. For instance, if a physician attending an important family function is called to attend an emergency, there arises a dilemma. If the physician leaves for the hospital, his duty to the family is breached but if he doesn’t then his duty as a doctor is jeopardized.
The conflict between two professional values may also give rise to an ethical dilemma. For instance, a patient showing reluctance towards treatment can be dealt with in two ways. He can either be coerced to accept the treatment against his/her or left to his/her wishes. While the former scenario is contrary to a patient’s personal autonomy and questions a doctor’s rights in a patient’s life, the latter contradicts the oath of non-maleficence that is a basis of medical practice. Both the above are ethical violations and the pressure of which violation to select can give rise to ethical dilemma for the medical staff.
A conflict between a person’s moral values and perceived role may also lead to ethical dilemma. For instance, if a physician, who is absolutely against the idea of abortion, comes across a patient for whom pregnancy can pave way to sure death, an ethical dilemma for the medical practitioner is inevitable.
Ethical dilemma may, at times, arise due to unavoidable alternatives also. For example, if an employee is asked to manipulate reports for the benefit of the company then he has two options – either follow the way shown by the company officials and go ahead with the manipulation or act as a whistleblower to bring the malpractice to common notice. The choice again would depend upon the financial well-doing of an employee and if the employee agrees to the manipulation due to lack of any other alternative, ethical dilemma is a certainty.
How To Resolve Ethical Dilemma
Think About The Consequences
When faced with an ethical dilemma where you just can't be sure of what is right and what is wrong, slow down and analyze the consequences of all the possible decisions that you can take and find out answer for the below questions for both the long and short run.
Who all will be benefitted?
Who all will be hurt?
What all are the benefits?
What all are the harms?
After listing the answers to the above questions, give due weightage to both the negatives and the positives.
Consider The Course Of Action
After considering the consequences, try to consider the most beneficial or practical course of action. Find out which principles are you ready to breach and which are the ones you’d never let go off and why. Plan your actions in accordance to that.
Make A Decision
In the end, do it. No matter how much time you spend evading a problem, you cannot stay away from taking a decision. With the previous steps guiding you towards a sane decision, your chances of faltering are significantly reduced. Consider the above mentioned things and make a decision with minimum harm to your moral principles.
Ethical dilemma or moral dilemma is an unpleasant situation which almost all of us experience at different times in life. Above article seeks to help you overcome the helplessness and mental pressure that comes with such a situation.