Dealing with Moral Dilemmas
“Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.”
― Mark Twain
Unfortunately, what the great American writer Mark Twain suggested is hardly easy to do.
Everyone understands that definition of "what is right" is ambiguous. Shades of gray color certain situations. Their absolute correctness is difficult to decide. We end up, not of our own volition, in moral dilemmas,
Moral dilemmas therefore happen when kinship or friendship complicates our sense of right and wrong.
Yet, our sense of right and wrong prompts us to deal with them . Just how do we do so?
Considerations that cause moral dilemmas
To deal with these less-than-straightforward moral entanglements, we must. first understand what gives rise to them.
Making appropriate moral decisions is difficult for these reasons.
The first one is kinship. Moral decisions are not straightforward because they may affect our loved ones in some way.
This is akin to a scene from a soap opera, but similar, though less dramatic occurrences are possible. If someone asks you to commit a heinous crime or risk having your family compromised, the decision is not an easy one to make.
Friendship is another reason making moral decisions is tough.
If bullies threaten to attack your best friend unless you steal, it is not an easy choice either.
3. Our own principles
Thirdly, we may have a "hard and fast" principles. They make it hard for us to empathize with situations clouded in shades of gray.
Making a seemingly righteous decision is not always straightforward.
And then, some situations are morally ambiguous.
Consider this scenario. Your company stipulates that its employees should not use company stationery for their own purposes, but you witness a co-worker using a single sheet of paper to type a quick personal letter.
Does this constitute stealing?
Fear, too, causes moral dilemmas. Fear of an abusive person may trigger an impulse to harm him, lest he attacks again.
Moral decisions are difficult to make at times, because we have to defend ourselves.
6. We have different moral standards.
Lastly, we have different moral standards. What is acceptable to one is not to another, creating conflicts of interest.
Further, one can only decide what is right on one's own, as morality is subjective.
Explaining a moral dilemma
Dealing with personal moral dilemmas
With this understanding in mind, we are better equipped to deal with life's gray areas.
But exactly how do we go about dealing with these conundrums?
1. Be aware of what is causing the moral dilemma.
Firstly, come to terms what is causing the dilemma. Is it the ties of kinship? Or is it our fear that is preventing us from making proper moral decisions?
This gives us a better idea of the obstacles we have to overcome as we face our moral dilemmas.
2. Have the facts before you.
Then have the facts on hand. Knowing all circumstances surrounding the dilemma helps us deal with it rationally.
3. Think about the consequences.
Further, think about the ramifications of your decisions. What or who will they affect? What will it hurt?
4. Consider the moral standards of your actions.
To round off, weigh your own actions against moral standards. Ask if you have tried your best in doing the right thing morally.
Dealing with moral dilemmas at work
Moral dilemmas are, as their name states, confusions that complicate decisions. The workplace, in particular, is where moral dilemmas surface.
Knotty as these situations are, options are available to us to deal with them.
1. Gather the facts.
The first course of action when presented with a moral dilemma at work is to gather the facts. What we see as morally unethical is sometimes clouded by
office politics or biased judgments.
Put relevant information together before deciding what to do.
2. Decide if it is moral or personal.
Then decide if you have moral or personal biases. If someone is seen as morally improper, decide if it this is a purely personal judgment, or one made because the person did do wrong.
3. Get a different perspective.
Then, ask a neutral party for his or her perspective on the matter. Consult someone who is familiar with your line of work.
This person may offer a balanced view of the circumstances at hand.
4. Find out about established policies
The last option open to us when faced with a moral dilemma at the workplace is to familiarize yourself with established policies and workplace ethics. These should guide your professional and even personal actions.
These guidelines show if involved parties followed proper, ethical procedures.
How do you deal with moral dilemmas?
Some challenging moral dilemmas
Here are some challenging moral dilemmas. What would you do if you faced them?
1. The Prisoner of War
Imagine that you are a prisoner of war. A sadistic enemy guard asks you to shoot your husband.
He says that if you do not, he will kill another innocent prisoner of war. What would you do?
2. The Paramedic
You are a paramedic who arrives at the scene of an accident. You discover that your wife and her lover are the victims.
Both are bleeding profusely, but you cannot save both on time. If you choose to help one, the other will bleed to death.
Who would you help first?
3. The pregnant tour guide
A pregnant tour guide is leading a group of tourists out of a popular cave on the coast. With her huge belly, she cannot get out of the mouth of the cave. No one can get out.
The tide is rising, slowly filling the cave with water. They have to leave the cave before they drown.
Rescue workers come with sticks of dynamite. Blowing up the mouth of the cave will kill the pregnant woman, but save the others. Should they?
We face many moral dilemmas that we have to approach as rationally as possible.
Share your experiences with us.
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