Ethical Dilemma

Ethical Dilemma

  • It arises when making a choice between two competing sets of moral principles
  • It is similar to being on two horns, neither of which is comfortable
  • There is no ‘perfect’ solution in an ethical dilemma. Some ethical principle is always compromised.

Types of Ethical Dilemma

  • Ethics vs Personal Loss – when compliance with ethical conduct results in a significant personal loss
  • Right vs Right – when making a choice between two competing sets of ethical values

Steps to resolve Ethical Dilemma

  • The decision should conform to the rule of law
  • It should be in line with the organization’s code of conduct and goals
  • It should give the ‘most optimum’ outcome for public and the organization both
  • It should be justifiable if scrutinized

Two sources of guidance in resolving Ethical Dilemma

  • External – Law
  • Internal – Conscience

Conscience as a source of Ethical Guidance

  • Conscience is a person’s moral sense of right or wrong. It is God given ability to reason
  • It is shaped by one’s beliefs and values. Eg – conscience of someone who is an ascetic may be different from someone who is a hedonist
  • Some argue that since conscience is highly subjective, it is not a good source of ethical guidance
  • At individual level, conscience takes one away from self-centres thinking
  • At political level, conscience lessens corruption, nepotism. It directs one to uphold the rule of law and maintain highest levels of probity in governance
  • At citizen level, conscience pushes a person to keep his surroundings clean, cast his vote, pay his taxes, cultivate social harmony and peace etc

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