Distinguish between ethical issues, ethical dilemmas, and ethical theories
We are often faced with situations that require us to make ethical decisions in our daily lives. Such difficult dilemmas are particularly common to professionals in businesses, healthcare and other industries. Some of these issues might call for immediate responses while others require carefully thought and considered decisions. This emphasizes the need for a clear distinction between ethical issues, ethical dilemmas, and ethical theories.
Ethical issues arise when the matter at hand demand a solution which conflicts with the society’s standard morals and ethics. Ethical issues are usually hard to deal with especially if there are no guidelines on which the decision should be based. Some ethical issues can also be legally conflicting. This means that one or several alternative decisions might result in breaching of a particular law. If the decision does not conflict with the law, it might generate negative reactions from other people.
To make the decision-making process less complicated, most professionals and organizations have come up with a code of ethics unique to each organization. The code of ethics is simply a set of rules and guidelines that have been analyzed and approved by key members of the management which act as a framework upon which decisions are made.
Ethical dilemmas on the other hand are even more complicated and challenging to solve. An ethical dilemma is a problem that arises when there are two possible conflicting solutions to a problem. Coming up with the right decision for these moral problems is very complicated yet very critical to all the members involved. There are three conditions that must be present for a situation to pass as an ethical dilemma. First, the agent must be faced with a situation that requires him to make the best choice. secondly, there must be several conflicting solutions to choose from and lastly, any choice made must compromise with at least one other ethical principle.
Ethical theories also play a vital role in the ethical decision-making process. They act as a foundation on which people seek guidelines when making decisions. There are three ethical theories which are broadly categorized into, utilitarianism, deontology, and virtues. Each theory presents a unique approach and style which influences different decisions for the same problem. These approaches allow an individual to weigh between several solutions and select the one they deem best. Ethical theories try to emphasize that people will have different approaches and possibly make different decisions to a problem even when presented with the same information and similar decision rule.
Getting a clear understanding of each of these terms gives you a better approach and helps you to make a sound decision. It is also important to note that ethical theories do not work independently but rather, work closely together to help you to reach the best possible decision.