Ethical Dilemmas
There are 2 types of Ethical
Right versus Wrong
Right versus Right
Right Verses Wrong is…
A situation where there is definitely a right
course of action and a wrong course of action.
Example: Someone steals money from their
company to perpetuate their own lifestyle.
Resolution: Charge and convict them of a crime
Right versus Right
There are two or more possible choices to resolving a
situation. All seem to be right and have positive and
Example: You catch a friend, who is getting an A in
math, cheating on an exam. This friend needs a high
final mark to get a scholarship. However, you are also in
the class and know that the class works hard to get the
marks they get.
You are torn – Truth: Your friend cheats to do well vs.
Loyalty to your friend.
4 Forms of Ethical Dilemmas
Truth vs. Loyalty
Individual vs. Community
Short-term vs. Long-Term
Justice vs. Mercy
Some Simple Resolution Principles
Do what’s best for the greatest number
of people (ends-based thinking).
Follow your highest sense of principle (or
rule based thinking).
Do what you want others to do for you
(or care-based thinking).
Debate Number 1
Truth vs. Loyalty
As a professional working for a large defence electronics firm, Stan
found himself riding a roller coaster of concern about layoffs. Every
few years, it seems, top management slashed jobs as work slacked
off, only to hire again when times started looking up. Stan’s boss,
however, was a good friend – and also a big talker. Stan had no
problems asking him about his future. The boss mentioned that if
the company was to slash jobs, Stan friend and team member, Jim,
would lose his job.
Days later, Jim approaches Stan asking if he could confirm that he
was about to lose his job. Stan also knows that Jim is also down on
his luck and owes a lot of money. What does Stan do? Does he
honor confidentially or tell Jim?
Debate Number 2
Individual vs. Community
The operator of a nursing home in California received a letter from a
nearby hospital, where his elderly residents typically went for
medical attention. The letter reminded him that five of his residents
had recently had surgery at the hospital. It also informed him that
some of the blood used may have been tainted with a very scary
disease. While making it clear that probabilities of infection were
very low, the letter asked him to call the five to arrange further
However, if the nursing home operator does this, he knows that the
staff at the hospital would probably refuse care to the 5 since they
are afraid of the disease. However, if he did not call, and 1 of the 5
has the disease, he would be responsible. Does he call the 5 or just
ignore it?
Debate Number 3: Short Term
verse Long Term
Andy found a solid job, married, and had two sons. 12
years later, he moved to another company that promised
steady advancement within its managerial ranks. A
devoted family man, he admired his wife’s dedication to
raising his sons. But he also observed that his sons
needed more fatherly advise as they got older.
However, he also loved his work and was offered an
upper management position. The only requirement was
that he start his MBA – which would require two years of
weekends and nights going to class. Does he think of
his family or his career first?
Debate Number 4: Justice vs.
An Senior editor of a newspaper hired a young
woman for the food page. She had come from
one of the best colleges. She had always
seemed to write amazing stories and was very
popular. One day, however, the Food Editor
came to the Senior Editor’s desk and showed
that the young writer had plagiarized a story
about blueberries.
Should the Sr. Editor immediately fire the young
writer or give her a chance?