What is an Ethical Dilemma?
An ethical dilemma (ethical paradox or moral dilemma) is a problem in the decision-making process between two possible options, neither of which is absolutely acceptable from an ethical perspective. Although we face many ethical and moral problems in our life, most of them come with relatively straightforward solutions.
On the other hand, ethical dilemmas are extremely complicated challenges that cannot be easily solved. Therefore, the ability to find the optimal solution in such situations is critical to everyone.
Every person may encounter an ethical dilemma in almost every aspect of their life, including personal, social, and professional.
How to solve an ethical dilemma?
The biggest challenge of an ethical dilemma is that it does not offer an obvious solution that would comply with ethical norms. Throughout the history of humanity, people have faced such dilemmas, and philosophers aimed and worked to find solutions to them.
The following approaches to solve an ethical dilemma were deduced:
- Refute the paradox (dilemma): The situation must be carefully analyzed. In some cases, the existence of the dilemma can be logically refuted.
- Value theory approach: Choose the alternative that offers the greater good or the lesser evil.
- Find alternative solutions: In some cases, the problem can be reconsidered, and new alternative solutions may arise.
Some examples of ethical dilemma examples include:
- Taking credit for others’ work
- Offering a client a worse product for your own profit
- Utilizing inside knowledge for your own profit
Ethical dilemmas in business
Ethical dilemmas are especially significant in professional life, as they frequently occur in the workplace. Some companies and professional organizations (e.g., CFA) adhere to their own codes of conduct and ethical standards. Violation of the standards may lead to disciplinary sanctions.
Almost every aspect of business can become a possible ground for ethical dilemmas. It may include relationships with co-workers, management, clients, and business partners.
People’s inability to determine the optimal solution to such dilemmas in a professional setting may result in serious consequences for businesses and organizations. The situation may be common in companies that value results the most.
In order to solve ethical problems, companies and organizations should develop strict ethical standards for their employees. Every company must demonstrate its concerns regarding the ethical norms within the organization. In addition, companies may provide ethical training for their employees.
CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful: