Ethical Dilemma Sample Essay

The instance survey presents a moral quandary based on possible injury to guiltless people. By utilizing Kohlberg’s moral development theoretical account and by analyzing major ethical systems. viz. deontology and utilitarianism. a clear apprehension of the factors act uponing this type of decision-making can be gained. Specifically. utilitarianism. Kant’s categorical jussive mood and the philosophy of dual consequence address the determination from differing point of views. supplying the determination shaper with obliging grounds to back up both angles of the ethical and moral quandary presented in the determination at manus. A determination can so be made if it is considered morally justified. depending on the theoretical account used to do the determination. Often the solution of an ethical quandary would intend taking what would ensue in the greatest good. However. it would non be a quandary if it was an easy determination to do. Thus. the determination shaper must guarantee that the scenario is examined from every angle to guarantee the right determination is made. Pojman and Fieser ( 2009 ) province that there are four spheres of ethical appraisal ; the action. effect. character. and motor. These spheres clearly show that ethical motives and moralss have more than observed behaviour and each sphere takes on a more or less of import value depending on the chosen ethical theory.

In this instance survey. the reader is challenged to set themselves into the function as the moving Commanding Officer ( A/CO ) of a pigboat. The pigboat has been the victim of a torpedo onslaught and the technology compartment is make fulling with H2O. Three of the crew attempted to halt the inundation and are stuck indoors. If the H2O tight hatch to the technology compartment does non acquire closed. ensuing in pin downing the three work forces. so the pigboat will drop to such a degree that the force per unit area will oppress the pigboat and kill all on board. If they close the hatch so the three work forces will rapidly die and the remainder of the crew will presumptively last.

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As the A/CO the determination whether or non to shut the hatch poses an ethical quandary. more specifically a injury quandary. A harm quandary is described by the Canadian Defence Ethics Program ( 2002 ) as a quandary that “identifies those hard state of affairss. particularly in a military environment. where any action taken will ensue in injury or hurt to others” ( pp. 18-19 ) . Either determination made by the A/CO will ensue in decease. nevertheless. taking to shut the hatch will ensue in a “greater good” as less people will decease.

In his cognitive-developmental theory Kohlberg ( 1976 ) suggested that moral development has six phases. It is based on the work from Piaget who states that there are phases of logical logical thinking and intelligence through which people advancement and advanced moral logical thinking can be achieved through advanced logical logical thinking. Kohlberg states that “since moral concluding clearly is concluding. advanced moral concluding depends upon advanced logical reasoning” ( pp. 32 ) . Harmonizing to Kohlberg. a person’s moral development influences their determination devising. Kohlberg describes three degrees of moral development with each degree dwelling of two phases. The degrees are: Degree I – pre-conventional ( stages one and two ) . Level II – conventional ( phases three and four ) . and Level III – post-conventional ( phases five and six ) . Using Kohlberg’s morale concluding theoretical account the determination of the A/CO to shut the hatch would be made at the Level III – Post Conventional.

The phase of development within that degree would be Stage 6 – Universal Ethical Principles. As A/CO. the rules such as the human right to life would hold to be assessed. Acceptance of society’s regulations is understood at this degree and one of those regulations is to non stop someone’s life intentionally. However. the A/CO logically understands that the “greater good” is the endurance of the staying crew and pigboat. He besides has a military duty to guarantee its endurance as good. The A/CO must besides come to the decision that the three work forces will decease regardless of his determination. It has to be assumed that if one is in the place of A/CO that there has been advanced military preparation. The logical logical thinking at the Level III. Phase 6 would let the moving CO to absorb outside influences yet still conclude that the determination to shut the hatch is the best. He would no doubt run into opposition from the other submariners sing his determination.

By shuting the hatch you save the bulk of the staying work forces and the pigboat. There is the personal ethical quandary where as A/CO. you are consciously cognizant that you will do the work forces to decease inside the technology compartment. The ethical quandary between shuting the hatch or to maintain trying to seek to deliver the work forces at all costs requires farther analysis utilizing teleological moralss.

Teleological systems are based on person’s Acts of the Apostless therefore the consequence of the act is more of import than the nature of the act ( Pojman & A ; Fieser. 2009 ) . Utilitarianism is defined as a cosmopolitan system that calls for the maximization of the goodness in society and is considered the dominant version of teleological systems. Pojman and Feiser ( 2009 ) depict two chief characteristics of utilitarianism ; the consequentialist rule and the public-service corporation rule. The consequentialist rule is where the moral rightness or inappropriateness of the act is determined by the effects of the act. non the act itself. As A/CO. the act of shuting the hatch will ensue in presumptively salvaging the lives of other submariners ( or at least a better opportunity of endurance ) . But it besides causes the decease of three work forces. Therefore. harmonizing to the consequentialist rule by taking to shut the hatch will finally ensue in a “greater good” by salvaging the lives of the other submariners ( greater figure of work forces survive ) . The public-service corporation rule besides supports the A/CO’s determination in that the right actions are those that yield the most good or public-service corporation. By shuting the hatch there will be more lives saved and besides a more expedient decease to the three trapped work forces.

There are two fluctuations of utilitarianism ; act- utilitarianism and rule- utilitarianism ( Pojman & A ; Feiser. 2009 ) . Act-Utilitarianism is based on a situational context. sing that an act is right if and merely if it consequences in every bit much good as any available option. It is merely concerned with the good and evil that consequences from a peculiar circumstance. non the agencies to acquire at that place. This peculiar state of affairs involves speedy decision-making abilities while under an increasing presence of danger. The A/CO must do a determination under highly nerve-racking conditions. It is the determination to shut the hatch to salvage the lives of the staying crew that consequence in the greater good. However. Rule-Utilitarianism is non as dependant on the context of a state of affairs. An act is right provided it is required by a regulation. and that this regulation is a member of a set of regulations whose credence would take to greater public-service corporation for society than any other alternate regulation ( Pojman & A ; Feiser. 2009 ) . The exigency process to shut the hatch to the technology section due to deluging would be followed. By disregarding this process the pigboat will drop farther and oppress under the force per unit area.

By taking a closer expression at utilitarianism most results. whether good or bad. have been considered. Establishing it on the greater good for the greater figure you would hold to take shuting the hatch to salvage the pigboat and staying submariners. Deontological systems differ from teleological systems in that deontology hold that it is the cardinal footing of the act. what the act really is. that categorizes whether the act is good or bad. It is the act itself. non merely the effects that justify moral actions. Deontological systems have sub-variations and the most common fluctuation is rule-based. It is this fluctuation that accepts the rule of universalisability and regulations when doing a determination. A rational signifier of deontology and ethical determination devising was developed by Immanuel Kant. Kant’s moral theory provides a determination devising procedure that can be applied in this peculiar instance. His theory. utilizing a deontological attack. is based on his belief that “reason is sufficient for set uping the moral jurisprudence as something transcendent and universally adhering on all rational creatures” ( Pojamn & A ; Feiser. 2009. pp. 124 ) .

Basically it means that Kant believed that the lone thing that is absolute good is good will. thereby holding that the act itself ( or facets of the act ) must be morally acceptable. non merely the consequence. He focuses on moral duties which he described as two jussive moods ; conjectural jussive mood ( HI ) and categorical jussive mood ( CI ) . The HI expression is “If you want A. so do B” and is non the type of imperative that characterize moral actions ( Pojman and Fisher. 2009. p. 128 ) . Harmonizing to Kant. this type of jussive mood has no moral content. Categorical jussive mood ( CI ) . nevertheless. is described as “Do B! ” . basically intending to make the right thing. regardless of what consequence you desire. Categorical jussive moods ( CI ) are cosmopolitan action statements in which A is done because it is the morally right title. non to obtain a definite terminal consequence. Categorical jussive mood ( CI ) besides states that any action must be taken with the belief that the rules on which it is based could stand as cosmopolitan jurisprudence. They form the intuitive regulations that worlds use to do rational determinations about ethical or moral issues.

Kant separated categorical jussive mood into three preparations ; rule of the jurisprudence of nature ( aka rule of universalizability ) . rule of terminals. and rule of liberty. The first. rule of universalizability. is a generalised regulation frequently referred to the CI itself saying that if you would non will your action base as cosmopolitan jurisprudence. it is non the morally right action. The 2nd. rule of terminals ( PE ) . provinces that all human existences have intrinsic worth and therefore must be treated as an ends instead than a agency. The last preparation. the rule of liberty ( PA ) states that all human existences do non necessitate outside authorization to state them what is good and are capable of utilizing common sense to find moral rules. Using Kant’s attack to the ethical quandary presented in the instance survey. a determination can be made by following a set of guidelines. First. the actions available must be identified. The A/CO needs to disregard the results of the different classs of action. Rather. he or she must measure the actions to see if they conform to the three preparations of the CI. The undermentioned inquiries must be addressed: could the action base as cosmopolitan jurisprudence? Is every human being treated as an terminal instead than a agency. acknowledging their intrinsic value and self-respect? Are moral rules being applied through the procedure of ground?

Finally. the action that conforms to these rules is the right moral action. By utilizing Kant’s CI and the three preparations it can be considered morally justified to shut the hatch to the engine compartment. Using Kant’s theoretical account as A/CO it has been identified that there are two picks to do: to shut the hatch or to non shut the hatch. As A/CO the possible results must be ignored when making a determination. Alternatively. the A/CO must turn to whether or non these actions uphold the preparations of the CI. In the first scenario. the A/CO does non order the closing of the hatch as the engine compartment inundations. The consequence is the pigboat inundations and ranges crush deepness. killing all on board. This action does non look to be the right pick when sing all three preparations of categorical jussive mood. It does non fulfill the standards of CI as the determination of non shuting the hatch could non be considered cosmopolitan jurisprudence. In add-on. this action does non conform to the rule of terminals. as all of the crew are non being treated as an terminal.

The rule of liberty is besides non satisfied as the A/CO would be able to rationally make up one’s mind that since the three work forces are traveling to decease either manner it is best to salvage the staying work forces. In the 2nd state of affairs. the moving CO orders the hatch to be closed and pin down the three work forces inside the engine compartment. This determination could go through the rule of universalizability “when there is a inundation in the engine compartment I should shut the hatch” . The fact is that the shutting of the hatch will ensue in the decease of three crew members. However. it is of import to besides follow the advice of the COB and shut the hatch to salvage the other crew members. Therefore. using Kant’s moral theory the determination by the A/CO to shut the hatch is supported. The philosophy of dual consequence ( DDE ) . developed by Aquinas allows a construct that there are sometimes state of affairss where moral rules must be weighed against each other to come to a determination when covering with moral quandary ( Pojman & A ; Feiser. 2009 ) . Moral tyranny is described as non-override able rules that should ne’er be violated.

Moral objectivism. nevertheless. refers to moral rules that override all considerations yet when coming to a determination each rule must be weighed against the other. As Pojman and Feiser ( 2009 ) province “sometimes we encounter moral struggles. ‘dilemmas’ in which we can non make good without besides conveying about evil consequences” ( p 34 ) . So it is sometimes allowable to make a good act even though it can convey about a bad effect. The value of life and the two moral rules – ever continue human life and ever cut down human agony. By shuting the hatch you are besides cut downing the agony as they will decease really rapidly. Four conditions must be met for DDE before an act is considered morally acceptable ; the nature-of-the-act status. the means-end status. the right-intention status. and the proportionality status. The first status. nature-of-the-act. can be met in this scenario. While it is non morally allowable to kill the three work forces to salvage the others the A/CO is non deliberately killing the three work forces.

He is shuting the hatch to the engine compartment in order to halt the implosion therapy. The terminal consequence is that the work forces will decease. but killing the work forces is non intended. they are non intended marks. to salvage the remainder of the work forces. The means-end status is satisfied as the Ba consequence. the work forces deceasing. is non how the God consequence ( ship non droping ) is achieved. It is the shutting of the hatch that is the agencies. Condition three. the right-intention. is satisfied as the drowning of the work forces is unintended side consequence. It is foreseen yet unintended. The 4th status. proportionality status. is satisfied in that the bad consequence is less than the good consequence. Using the DDE it can be morally justified to shut the hatch as the purpose is non to kill the three work forces but to halt the inundation from doing the pigboat to drop farther.

Kohlberg’s theoretical account suggests that the degree of the persons logical logical thinking. and in turn their moral logical thinking. are cardinal indexs on how one would respond in an ethical quandary. The trials of moral judgement are limited to how one perceives the moral quandary non how the person would really act or respond ( Trevino. 1986 ) . The theoretical account besides fails to depict how each state of affairs has a different set of features that influence the determination devising procedure. Jones’ issue-contingent theoretical account of moral determination devising recognizes and identifies the influence of features of specific ethical state of affairss ( Blais & A ; Thompson. 2008 ) . His theoretical account recognizes the importance of moral strength and how. as moral strength additions. so does consciousness of the ethical state of affairs as it is issue-dependent ( Jones. 1991 ) . Moral strength does non concentrate on the moral agent or the organisational behaviour but alternatively focal points on the moral issue itself ( Jones. 1991 ) . Harmonizing to Jones ( 1991 ) . moral strength is comprised of six features ; the magnitude of effects. societal consensus. chance of consequence. temporal immediateness. propinquity. and concentration of consequence.

Each feature has influence on the degree of moral strength. and each feature can be influenced by interaction with another. By presuming that the A/CO knows the three work forces really good. the feature of propinquity would hold a great influence on the determination of shuting the hatch. Proximity. in this theoretical account. refers to how shut the determination shaper is to the people in the state of affairs who will bear the effects of the determination. with closeness described as psychologically. socially. physically. and culturally ( Jones. 1991 ) . As the A/CO knows the work forces good the moral strength of the state of affairs has escalated and will consequence the determination devising procedure. Another feature of Jones’ theoretical account that has the greatest influence on the A/CO determination is the magnitude of effect. This characteristic refers to how much injury or benefits will be brought to the receivers of the determination. His pick to shut the hatch will ensue in certain decease for the three work forces that he knows really good ensuing in high effect. The six features of Jones’ model interact with one another and some. as celebrated above. take precedency over others.

Rest ( as stated in Jones. 1991 ) uses a four measure theoretical account for ethical determination devising. Jones’ ( 1991 ) examines how the six features of moral strength influence each of these stairss. For case. the first measure is to acknowledge the moral issue. This has already been achieved by the A/CO as he is cognizant that his determination will impact others and that he has to do the pick. The moral strength is increased as the old mentioned features ( magnitude of effect and propinquity ) will impact the acknowledgment of the moral issues. The 2nd measure. do moral judgements reaches back to Kohlberg’s theoretical account of cognitive development and it has already been stated that the A/CO is at Stage 6. However. utilizing Jones’ moral strength theoretical account as the ethical quandary is state of affairs dependent the A/CO’s moral judgement is still traveling to be influenced by the antecedently mentioned features. The 3rd measure. moral purpose is recognized when moral strength is higher as the single acknowledges that a determination needs to be made.

And the 4th measure. moral behaviour. is really moving on 1s moral purposes. Not merely is the intimacy of the A/CO with the three work forces in the engine compartment a factor but the intimacy of the three work forces to the remainder of the crew every bit good. Jones’ theoretical account of moral strength clearly suggests how intimacy to others can strongly act upon a bid determination regardless of the degree of logical and moral logical thinking. Military members are required to do hard determinations many times. This can be in any context. operational or even twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours. It’s an establishment that allows for certain determinations to be made that would non be understood by other establishments. The instance survey presents a moral quandary based on possible injury to guiltless people. By utilizing Kohlberg’s moral development theoretical account and by analyzing major ethical systems. viz. deontology and utilitarianism. a clear apprehension of the factors act uponing this type of decision-making can be gained. Each reference the determination from differing point of views. supplying the determination shaper with obliging grounds to back up both angles of the ethical and moral quandary presented in the determination at manus. A determination can so be made if it is considered morally justified. depending on the theoretical account used to do the determination.


Blais. A. & A ; Thompson. M. M. ( 2008 ) . Decision procedure in military moral quandary: The function of moral strength and moral judgement DRDC Toronto. TR 2008-190 December 2008.

Department of National Defence ( DND ) . The Statement of Defence Ethics.
( 2002 ) . Defense mechanism ethics plan: Fundamentalss of Canadian Defence moralss ( pp. 18-19 ) . Ottawa: Writer

Jones. T. M. ( 1991 ) . Ethical decision-making by persons in organisations: An issue-contingent theoretical account. Academy of direction reappraisal. 16 ( 2 ) . 366-395.

Kohlberg. L. ( 1976 ) . Moral phases and moralizing: The cognitive-developmental attack. In T. Lickona ( Ed. ) . Moral development and behavior: Theory. research. and societal issues ( pp. 31-41 ) . New York: Holt. Rinehart and Winston.

Pojman. L. P. & A ; Fieser. J. ( 2009 ) . Ethical motives: Discovering Right & A ; Wrong. 6th Ed. Wadsworth Group:

Supermex. L. K. ( 1986 ) . Ethical determination devising in organisations: A person-situation interactionist theoretical account. Academy of Management Review. 11 ( 3 ) . 601-617.


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