In week 8, we have learnt and discuss about ethical dilemma whereby the lecture was given by Mr. Jamie. To start with, an ethical dilemma is actually a complex situation that often involves an apparent mental conflict between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another. Besides, it is also called as an ethical paradox since in moral philosophy which it often plays a central role in ethics debate.
There are some choices in ethical dilemma; right or wrong, duty or obligation, rights or responsibilities, and good or bad. Indeed, there are seven elements which are theories, conflicts, human needs, the milieu influencers, ethical maturity and ethical fitness. As we know, ethics is the science of studying ideal human character or the science of studying moral duty which means we have to adapt with the ethical fitness. First is the ability to recognize the nature of moral challenge. Second is the ability to respond with a well-tuned conscience. Third is a lively perception of difference between right or wrong. The last one is the ability to choose the right and live by it.
As I have mentioned above, ethical dilemma occurs when the people have to choose between two or many choices whether right or wrong, duty or obligation, rights or responsibilities, and good or bad. For instance, we went to the shop and my friends did something immorally such as stealing and I saw it. I saw my friend stealing but I am in dilemma whether I have to tell the truth to the shopkeeper or not. If I tell the shopkeeper about this, of course it will definitely destroy our friendship and in fact, she is my best friend. If I do not tell the shopkeeper, I will feel guilty for the whole of my life as it is like I am encouraging her to repeat that mistake again. So, I am in dilemma whether to tell or not. That is what we called as ethical dilemma.
When we face ethical dilemma or these kinds of situations, we need to think critically in many sides. Indeed, we have to think of the consequences. Generally speaking, there are two major approaches that philosophers use in handling ethical dilemmas. One approach focuses on the practical consequences of what we do; the other concentrates on the actions themselves. The first school of thought basically argues “no harm, no foul”. Besides, the second claims that some actions are simply wrong. The first thing that we need to consider when we are facing ethical dilemma is analyzing the consequences which we have to think of both positive and negative consequences.
Secondly, we have to analyze the actions which we have to consider all of our options from a completely different perspective. Concentrate instead strictly on the actions. How do they measure up against moral principles like honesty, fairness, equality, respecting the dignity of others, respecting people’s rights, and recognizing the vulnerability of individuals weaker or less fortunate than others? Do any of the actions that we are considering “cross the line,” in terms of anything from simple decency to an important ethical principle? If there is a conflict between principles or between the rights of different people involved, is there a way to see one principle as more important than the others? Indeed, we need to consider and think of the option of whose actions are least problematic.