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Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough
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Working Through Ethical Dilemmas: When the Deciding Gets Tough

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Making ethical choices is never easy, but it helps to know what are ethical dilemmas and what comes down to doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing. Here are some insights—and tools—to …

Making ethical choices is never easy, but it helps to know what are ethical dilemmas and what comes down to doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing. Here are some insights—and tools—to understanding ethical dilemmas.

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  • Dilemma paradigms are what journalist and ethics professor Rushworth Kidder called the situations we often find ourselves in.
  • The word “dilemma” is from the Greek: di, which means two, and lemma, which means an assumption or a premise. A dilemma, then, is having to chose between two premises—presumably of equal significance.
  • A paradigm is based on another Greek word which means to show side by side, as in a comparison. It can also mean a pattern which shows up in a series.
  • Kidder believed that there were four basic dilemma paradigms—each of them having constant application in our lives. These are dilemmas that we face all the time.
  • The essential aspect to an ethical dilemma is that it is a choice between two right options—or perhaps the lesser of two evils. It is not a choice between right and wrong. Why would anyone choose the wrong and think it could be justified in an ethical sense?
  • One of many definitions of ethics. This one has the virtues of brevity and cogency!
  • In the traditions of Western philosophy, there have been three common approaches for resolving ethical dilemmas.
  • The first is rule-based: doing what is right based on duty and principle.
  • The second is based on the best ends or goals achieved for the greatest number of participants.
  • The third is based on expressing one’s character, formed over time, and exhibiting the characteristics of ‘eudaimonia,’ the fulfilled life.
  • Immanuel Kant’s deontology is rule-based, doing one’s duty no matter the consequences.
  • John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian ethic seeks the greatest good for the greatest number
  • Aristotle’s Virtue ethics is based on doing those things which build character—with the goal of eudaimonia or fulfillment.
  • We can ask ourselves these questions to determine if it’s a moral or ethical dilemma.
  • We don’t have to make a binary choice, yes or no, up or down, right or left. With a little imagination and patience we can almost always come up with multiple options. A classic dilemma of two need not be inevitable. The point is we encourage creativity in almost everything else, so why not in ethics? Such an important aspect of life demands our best and most creative efforts!
  • These words paraphrased from Epictetus, Stoic philosopher, remind us that we are often called to adapt ourselves to the situation, to do the best we can under the circumstances.
  • So . . . a quick review. Three major figures in the history of ethics, with three different purposes, but all of them providing us with ways to think ourselves to a decision.
  • Five of the common principles that have a global application across many disciplines in ethics.
  • An excellent book for students of ethics.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Making Tough Choices:Making Tough Choices: Working Through Ethical DilemmasWorking Through Ethical Dilemmas
    • 2. dilemma paradigmsdilemma paradigms
    • 3. di-lemmadi-lemma from the Grk.from the Grk. didi = two += two + lemmalemma,, an assumption, premisean assumption, premise
    • 4. par-a-digmpar-a-digm An example serving as a pattern;An example serving as a pattern; from Grk., to show side by sidefrom Grk., to show side by side
    • 5. truth vs loyaltytruth vs loyalty individual vs communityindividual vs community short-term vs long-termshort-term vs long-term justice vs mercyjustice vs mercy 44dilemma paradigmsdilemma paradigms
    • 6. not right vs wrong but right vs right
    • 7. Ethics. . . .Ethics. . . . ““Obedience to the unenforceable.”Obedience to the unenforceable.” –– Lord Moulton, 1924Lord Moulton, 1924
    • 8. 3 approaches for resolving dilemmas3 approaches for resolving dilemmas
    • 9. rule-basedrule-based do what is right based on principledo what is right based on principle
    • 10. ends-basedends-based do what’s best for the greatest number. . .do what’s best for the greatest number. . .
    • 11. virtue-basedvirtue-based do what reflectsdo what reflects your characteryour character
    • 12. Kant’s deontologyKant’s deontology ollow only the principles you want everyone to folloollow only the principles you want everyone to follo
    • 13. Mill’s UtilitarianismMill’s Utilitarianism what will produce the best results for the most?what will produce the best results for the most?
    • 14. Aristotle’s VirtueAristotle’s Virtue EthicsEthics What kind ofWhat kind of person are you?person are you?
    • 15. Is there a moral issue?Is there a moral issue? Am I responsible?Am I responsible? Is it right-vs-wrong?Is it right-vs-wrong? Is it right-vs-right paradigm?Is it right-vs-right paradigm? What are the facts?What are the facts?
    • 16. Apply the resolution principles.Apply the resolution principles. Make the decision.Make the decision. Is there a third way?Is there a third way? Reflect on the decision.Reflect on the decision.
    • 17. Events happen as they do. . . . Embrace what you get! Epictetus
    • 18. Three Traditions in Ethics Rule-based Character-based Ends-based Actions EndsAgents Kant Aristotle J. S. Mill Wicks, et al, Business Ethics (2010), Prentice Hall
    • 19. Nonmaleficence Autonomy Common principles Provide help Beneficence Justice Responsibility Do no harm Free to make choices Fair treatment Obligations, expectations Wicks, et al, Business Ethics (2010), Prentice Hall
    • 20. for more on the dilemma paradigms see: Rushworth Kidder, How Good People Make Tough Choices. Quill, 2003.
    • 21. Entelechy Productions (revised 2013)

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