The Ethical Dilemma Paper

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By: Marie Fincher

July 03, 2015

We have all faced ethical dilemmas

Although we may not have called them that. In philosophy and psychology courses, sometime they are also known as ethical paradoxes. By way of a simple definition, a situation involves two conflicting moral principles. To follow one means that a person is violating the other. These types of situations often become the topics of ethical dilemma essay assignments.

In psychology classes particularly, the personal ethical dilemma essay is a common assignment, and students are asked to form an opinion on which option to choose, even though both will violate some moral standard, either societal or person. Here are some ethical dilemma questions that are common topics for such essays:

  1. Jane has been told by a good friend at work that she (the friend) has met the man of her dreams, they have been dating for a few weeks and will now be taking a weekend trip together. Jane sees the new boyfriend pick her friend up outside of work and realizes that he is the husband of another good friend of hers. That friend has recently told Jane that she is really upset because she thinks her husband is having an affair. What should Jane do? Should she tell her worried friend the truth?
  2. A father has no health insurance and his daughter has a form of epilepsy that requires a really expensive medicine. He cannot afford this week’s dose; his credit cards are maxed out and his checking account overdrawn. He has exhausted all efforts to borrow the money. He decides to break into the pharmacy at night and steal the medicine. Is he justified?
  3. A young woman is working late and discovers she accidentally deleted an email days ago with data she needs. Her “trash” bin has been emptied. She know that her co-worker has the information on her computer and she also knows the password, which she discovered by accident. She goes into her co-workers computer and sees that the co-worker is engaging in online gambling, strictly forbidden by the company because they handle a large casino account. She has also violated a strict company policy against using someone else’s computer without their knowledge and could be fired for such an action. What should she do?

These essays require that the writer take a stand and defend his/her position. Generally, these types of essays force the writer to prioritize the two moral principles and then persuade the reader that the prioritization is the correct one.

Writing the Ethical Dilemma Paper

A paper, by its definition, is lengthier than an essay, the moral dilemmas to be handled are usually more complex or larger in nature – things such as embezzlement because of a pressing personal matter, etc. These types of assignments will require the writer to either create or use an existing ethical decision-making process in order to determine the appropriate path to follow in resolving the dilemma. In other instances, the ethical dilemma paper will involve a case study – a situation that made national news. One example of such a dilemma is the recent drone attacks by the U.S. of ISIS strongholds in Syria. Innocent civilians are being killed by those drones, and yet if these ISAS targets are not hit and destroyed, other innocent victims will die at the hands of this terrorist group. Applying moral principles to this dilemma is a difficult and complex matter.

Need Some Help?

If you are unsure about how to write an ethics paper, or need assistance in applying the decision-making process to your assigned dilemma, there are philosophy and psychology experts at who can assist.

Marie Fincher

While being committed to a number of charitable causes, like volunteering at special events or giving free art lessons to children, Marie doesn’t forget her vocation – writing. She can write about almost anything but has focused on time management, motivation, academic and business writing.