Six years ago, I sailed for the first time from the Palolem beach in India. I rented a boat and rowed two miles deep into the sea. An hour later, two fishermen’s ships drew close to mine. I soon realized that one of the fishermen had entangled his feet in the seine nets, and the other boy on the boat was helpless. I watched, frozen. Months later, I still blamed myself for doing nothing. Today’s topic- Essay on Ethical Dilemma You Have Faced.
The Vast Ocean of Ethical Dilemma
My sailing incident was an ethical issue. I should have helped the fishermen. It was not because I didn’t want to, but because fear and shock had overruled my senses. Also, I had no obligation to help them. It was because:
1) the sinking boy was a stranger
2) I would have risked my life
By being a bystander, I technically did not do anything outside the law or even social expectations. However, I didn’t know how to swim, the Goan ocean was new to me, it was dark, and I had never found myself in a situation like this.
Moreover, I wanted to be safe, and it did not matter to me what happened to them in the heat of the moment. But if I had done the selfless thing, I would have felt proud and satisfied.
What was the correct action?
If we consider doing nothing as wrong, we are justifying the brave act of putting ourselves in the mouth of danger as the correct course. But who decides this act of right and wrong in this case?
If I had dived in, it meant that my life mattered less to me than the man who was drowning.
But, how do I decide whose life is more important? Is my life less important than his or vice versa?
The problem with this question is that it’s a pseudo question. There is no answer to it. Yes, both lives are essential, but whose life has a greater worth in comparison does not have an absolute solution.
This condition where there is no right or wrong answer because any decision we make has consequences that are so unpredictable and vague that we can never know the OUTCOME of a decision is called a dilemma.
In these cases, any decision we take is in some proportion right and some ways deeply wrong. Since we can’t categorize our decision into good or bad, this problem degenerates into an ethical dilemma.
The Occurrence of Ethical Dilemmas
We find problems like in every sphere of life. Some of the examples are:
The manager has asked to produce aggressively massive production units for this month. However, the employees are not able to meet the requirements. They start cutting corners and breaching protocol.
The employer presents factual evidence to the employees to convince them that the demand for its products has risen. Similarly, employees can accuse the employer of making them work extra hours at an inhumane productive rate.
- Schools of Thought
Christianity claims that humans are by birth impure, Buddism considers rebirth as a way to attain enlightenment, Hindu’s Karmic system alleges that the evils we commit in the previous lives haunt us in the present ones.
Each of them seeks pacification and liberation. But none of them has the same approach because there is no ultimate correct policy.
- Political sphere
Two tribes fight over a river. The government has to decide how much quantity to distribute between them. Both tribes have a valid reason for wanting more significant water, and the demands are reasonable.
- Social issues
In the USA, abortion is the most popular controversial topic. The conservative side considers killing the fetus equivalent to killing humans. At the same time, the liberals support individual rights and believe it is up to the woman who bears the child to decide the course of action.
The Necessity of Ethical Dilemmas
Ethical dilemmas occur when there are two options, but choosing either option might lead to stepping over a moral value.
Letting the boy drown meant a betrayal of courage and selflessness. But, saving him would have meant a betrayal of the instinct to protect oneself.
Two months later, I remember sitting in a shack near the tip of the Baga backwaters, still not forgiving myself.
Although the fisher boy survived, the incident left a deep abyss of doubt in the place that had once cement by self-respect and self-confidence.
Now, I knew how my decision was playing out in time. Last month, I would often encounter similar situations where I should have kept someone else before me. But during those moments, too, I was absent.
Ethical dilemmas are important not because they challenge how firmly grounded you are in moral situations, but rather because it allows one to examine the other side of decisions that haven’t brought peace to us.
Meaning, dilemmas like these bring you to the forefront of self-discovery. As a result, one is able to make peace with mistakes and give a greater force to the values we develop for ourselves.
Two years later, I slowly began uncovering the not-so-good parts about myself. For example, I had the habit of canceling dinner plans, not responding to someone’s needs, not calling sooner, and so on.
Although these were small things, they helped me realize that I could be self-centered, thoughtless, and hesitant in places that require my action.
It was as though I had still been sailing. But I had traveled so far without a compass that I could no longer understand what was necessary and what wasn’t.
Sailing through an ethical situation requires a reliable moral compass. Without it, you can never say for sure which path is accurate and reliable for you.
Finding a solution to an ethical dilemma
We choose to do the right thing because we do not want to regret how a decision might work out in the future.
We do not want the last judgment to summarize our lives with the final stamp of dishonesty. On the contrary, we want to develop and grow. Hence, corporations, governments, and people invent ideals and values and stick to them throughout.
Here are some things that can prepare you in the face of ethical issues:
Establish Your Values
Understand the qualities you think are necessary for your nourishment. If I decide that I want to be of service to people in dire need, then the following decisions I take should stubbornly align with my values.
In the future, if I unreasonably refuse to follow this self-established protocol, then I would be betraying what I believe. In other words, I would not be truthful.
Establishing values brings order. It works well for all individuals, organizations, and companies.
Once you have established what you need from yourself, you must, For example, if For example, follow it.
Establishing honesty with ourselves is the greatest pacification. Ten, twenty, or even thirty years down the line, one should look back and find only assurance, pride, and dignity with the way life turned out.
This consistency and strong camaraderie with our value systems are crucial for our moral functioning in life.
Ethically doubtful situations mean that all societally and legally established ethics have failed. It’s now only up to the individual to decide what is necessary.
During these circumstances, everyone should have the assurance that they did what they believe is true. By practicing what we believe, we solve many problems in life by consulting our values. It, in turn, reinforces what we believe.
Be Present With What Happens Around You
I often fall into situations where I don’t react the way I should because I misread situations or don’t understand the problem entirely. Decisions govern our lives, and each decision is always a challenge.
Dissecting the problem, envisioning the possible implications, and comparing the scenario with our self-made ethics gives us an idea about how we should respond. Take a step back and start a conversation with yourself.
We practice disengagement a lot in our lives. As a result, we are often not sensitive to the moments we live through, and as a result, we don’t understand the full extent of what role we play in different circumstances.
This method of analyzing our decisions, gathering evidence, and confronting the issue without bias are excellent ways to develop a firm moral character.
Using Hypothetical Tests as Judges
If you are unsure about what important decision you need to make, you can consult some tests that may support your decision. These are:
The Rights Approach
According to Immanuel Kant, everyone has the right to make a decision that concerns themselves. It is freedom. And morally, we as a community have the moral obligation to preserve this right.
One of the strong arguments in support of abortion is that women have the right to their bodies. They are at complete freedom to decide what is suitable for their body and their life. No one has the right to decide for them.
Before taking any steps, assess whether you suppress anyone’s right to speech, truth, or privacy.
The Utilitarian Test
This test deals with deciding what would cause the most significant good to the greatest number of people.
In my case, the fisher boy came from a poor family, and he was much younger than me. The boy who tried to rescue him was alone. If he had failed to save the drowning boy, he would probably have been traumatized for a very long time. Also, the people around him would have grown suspicious of him, possibly even insinuating that he had committed murder.
On the other hand, I was a bachelor from a decently middle-class family. I wasn’t responsible for anyone but myself. By not helping, I had harmed not one but two people.
After the decision, what kind of a person would you be? Is it someone you admire or hate? If you told someone who loves you about this decision, would they be proud?
It is an excellent approach to analyze the weight of your values in the present situation. For example, is your decision going to build your character or destroy it?
Guilt is a teacher you do not want to meet. Therefore, deciding opposition to any event that may strike this feeling is a sustainable one.
Common Good Approach
This approach directs you to consider everyone as a more significant part of the community. Common Good means better welfare, medical reach, public safety, or making a situation conducive to such changes. It asks you to take yourself out of the picture and consider whether what you do will help the progress of the community in some way.
This method, unlike the practical approach, isn’t a calculated one. It doesn’t seek for maximized profit. Instead, it informs qualities like selflessness and ensures that any aspect of public welfare isn’t compromised.
Since no single thought process is absolute, we often find ourselves in chaotic conditions. When no school of thought can help us navigate an issue, we must rely on our inner compass.
Resolving an ethical dilemma means building a value system that won’t shatter when it is the most necessary. Of course, many things can go wrong in life, but it is always reassuring that we followed what we consider the truth throughout our lives.
Why do ethical dilemmas occur?
They arise when a problem cannot be solved in a way that can satisfy the parties involved.
What are the factors that contribute to an ethical dilemma?
There must be a conflict between two ethical principles, many of whose most significant outcomes are low-income families are vague and beyond human reach.
What are the four ethical dilemmas?
Short term vs. long term, loyalty vs. truth, justice vs. mercy, and individual vs. community. Since each comes at a risk and a heavy burden, we cannot say what decision was suitable for the particular problem.
What are the necessary ethics?
Compassion, empathy, responsibility, honesty, and integrity are necessary for any business organization to function and for any individual to lead a meaningful life.