In my personal opinion a moral dilemma is one having to choose between what is right and what is wrong. This could be taken in several different ways, and might not be what others view as the right definition however this definition is in my own words. Moral. 2013. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved April 11, 2013, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moral, the meaning of moral is “of or relating to principals of right or wrong in behavior.” When looking at this specific definition you are unable to complete your assessment without also including the definition of dilemma. Dilemma. 2013. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved April 11, 2013, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilemma, a dilemma is “an argument presenting two or more equally conclusive alternatives against an opponent, in other words a usually undesirable or unpleasant choice.”
An example of a moral dilemma that I personally have experienced was choosing whether or not it would be acceptable to call the police and have my sister arrested for theft and possession of prescription medications which she stole from our mother. I had battled along-side my sister for 15 years with her drug addiction and I had finally come to my limit. I decided that it would be in her and her children’s best interest if she was forced into a rehabilitation situation and become the person that I knew she could be and also be capable of raising her children with the right morals and in the right type of environment. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life, but I believe it was what was best for her. That was in October of 2009 and she has remained drug free ever since and her children are growing and thriving!
While ethical dilemmas are similar to moral dilemmas, it seems that there is a generous amount of definitions. Upon researching and synthesizing 38 different definitions, Lewis (1985) defines business ethics as comprising the rules, standards, principles, or codes giving guidelines for morally right behavior and truthfulness in specific situations. This tells me that an individual must make the right decision based on the best interest of themselves and/or the company regarding any ethical dilemmas that arise.
An example of an ethical dilemma that my husband has recently had to make a decision on is co-workers cutting corners on their job details and causing machinery to be pushed back for repairs prior to approval of shipment. I am unable to reveal the name of the company, however I can tell you that it is a multi-million dollar company that is international and if a machine went to a customer with parts not working correctly, it would not just be the customer that suffers. This would affect the customer, their state, and possibly more territories. My husband had to make the choice to speak to his supervisor privately and anonymously to get this situation taken care of. Not only could the machine not work correctly, there could also have been injuries to the other workers in the plant as well as potential injuries to the customer.
Clarifying Personal Values
Each of you will be faced with numerous moral and ethical dilemmas throughout your career. To be prepared to make these ethical decisions, it is helpful to clarify your personal values, and morals before you are faced with an ethical dilemma. Review the following list of values and create a list of the five values most important to you in making decisions. acceptance
References: Trevino, L., & Nelson, K. (2011). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Malpas, J., “Donald Davidson”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2013 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
Lewis, P. V: 1985, 'Defining "Business Ethics": Like Nailing Jello to a Wall ', Journal of Business Ethics 4(5), 377-383.
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