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What is Moral Dilemma?
• Cambridge Dictionary: “a situation in which a
choice has to be made between possibilities
that will al have results you do not want”
• Oxford Dictionary: “a situation in which a
difficult choice has to be made between two
or more alternatives, especially ones that are
equally undesirable.”
• At this core, a dilemma is a situation in which a
difficult choice has to be made between two or
more alternatives. More informally, it can mean
a difficult situation or problem (as in the insoluble
dilemma of adolescence). Some traditionalists
object to this weakened use, but it is recorded as
early as the first part of the 17th century, and is
now widespread and generally acceptable. Not
that dilemma is spelled with a double m in the
middle, not as –mn-.
• Early 16th century (denoting a form of
argument involving a choice between equally
unfavourable alternatives): via Latin from
Dilemma: di-twice + lemma-premise
• Dilemmas are experiences where an agent is
confused about the right decision to make
because there are several competing values
that are seemingly equally important and
Steps in Solving a Moral Dilemma
1. Examine the act in relation to the agent.
(The agent and the facts surrounding the act
must be assessed.)
2. Determine the consequences of the act. (The
principle of consequentialism suggests that
one must weight the consequences of a
human act to determine whether it is moral
or immoral.
3. Identify the intention of the act. (Bad
intention is immoral.)
4. Decide in accordance to divine and natural
laws which govern moral life.
Activity 1
• Using the principles of moral decision-making, answer
the following:
A day before the wedding of your friend, you
discovered that your friend’s spouse-to-be is having an
affair with an officemate. You caught them sneaking out
of a hotel together. What will you do? Explain your
*Tell your friend about the affair but the wedding may
not push through and all the preparations will be
cancelled. Your friend’s happiness will surely be ruined.
*Remain silent; keep the truth from your friend, and
allow the wedding to push through so as not to ruin the
most important even in your friend’s life.
Activity 2
• You are an eyewitness to a robbery. A man
robbed a rich woman for him to pay for his son’s
crucial operation. You know who committed the
crime. If you go to the police to report the crime,
there is the strong possibility that the money will
be returned to the rich woman. What will you
do? Will you report the crime and tell the truth
to the police or say nothing since the money will
be used for the operation and the son will be
saved. Justify your answer.
Activity 3
• On your way home one night, you figured in a car
accident. While driving your car, you accidentally
hit and killed a pedestrian. As you got out of the
car, you were intercepted by a crying lady who
thought that she was the one who hit and killed
the pedestrian. There were only three people on
the scene: you, the lady, and the dead person
you hit on the road. There were other witnesses.
Thus you know that whoever is responsible will
be sent to jail. What will you do? Explain your