Introduction to Ethic Decision Making Introduction

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Ethical Dilemmas:

Ethical Dilemmas are defined by Kidder at “right vs. right” and “at the heart of our toughest choices”. It is “right”, on the one hand, to protect the Spotted Owl, and “right”, on the other hand, to protect jobs. They are genuine dilemmas precisely because each side is firmly rooted in our basic, core values. When people encounter these tough choices, it is rarely because they are facing a moral temptation (i.e.: right vs. wrong).

Kidder’s Four Paradigms for Understanding Ethical Dilemmas:
1. Truth vs. Loyalty: Truth, for most people, is conformity with facts or reality. Loyalty involves allegiance to a person, corporation or body of people, a government, or set of ideas to which one owes fidelity. It is right to stand on truth. It is right to be loyal.
2. Individual vs. Community: Individualism assumes that in a society where each person vigorously pursues his own interests, the social good would automatically emerge. As such, the rights of the individual are to be preserved. By “community” it is meant that the needs of the majority outweigh the interests of the individual. Communities speak to us in a moral voice. They lay claims on their members. It is right to consider the individual. It is right to consider the community.
3. Short-Term vs. Long-Term: Short-term concerns are usually associated with the satisfaction of current needs in such a way as to preserve the possibility of a future. Long-term concerns are usually defined by the projection of future interests in such a way that there will be ample means to meet future required needs. It is right to think and plan short-term. It is right to think and plan long-term.
4. Justice vs. Mercy: Justice urges us to stick by our principles, hold to the rules despite the pressures of the moment, and pursue fairness without attention to personalities or situations. Mercy urges us to care for the peculiar needs so individuals case by case and to seek benevolence in every way possible. It is right to be merciful. It is right to enforce justice.
How is understanding the type of dilemma helpful?

-It helps us separate right from wrong;

-It helps us cut through mystery, complexity, and confusion;

-it helps us strip away extraneous detail and get to the heart of the matter.

Once the dilemma is identified it is often very helpful to understand how one thinks about ethical decisions.

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