Sometimes, unethical behaviour takes place because of ethical dilemma which Is defined as a complex situation In which there are not clear -cut guidelines for ethical or unethical behaviour. Ethical behaviour is evolutionary and various sources like religion, law, social, rituals, etc. fail to provide guidelines for behaviour in some situations. In such situations, ethical dilemmas emerge and people are faced with having to make choice among the following alternatives:
1. significant value conflicts among different interests,
2. real alternatives that are equally justifiable, and
3. significant consequences on the stakeholders in the situation
In ethical dilemmas, the toughest choices are right versus right. They can be :
1. truth versus loyalty,
2. individual versus community,
3. short-term versus long-term, and
4. Justice versus mercy.
In such situations, a particular behaviour may appear to be ethical from one pointy view but unethical from another point of view. In the books on ethics, an example of ethical-dilemma is quoted frequently. The example is: during the early years of penicillin (considerJ to be a life-saving drug) introduction, the companies concerned were abnormally making huge profit as pencillin supply was short. Perturbed by this phenomenon, a prominent scientist of immunology stole the formula of penicillin from one company and supplied n free of cost to another company not producing penicillin with advice how the formula can be i adopted. The latter company used the formula and started producing penicillin in large quantity. With the result, prices of penicillin dropped down significantly and community] benefited. This question is: was the behaviour of the scientist ethical or unethical? The answer is: it was unethical from the point of view of companies engaged in producing pencillin earlier but ethical from the point of view of community which was positively affected by the increased supply of penicillin. This is just one case. In any society, several such situations] arise. In Indian context, this is termed as ‘apad dharm’ (emergent righteousness) meaning that any unethical behaviour which takes place to negate the effect of an unethical behavior.
Resolving Ethical Dilemma
People have to resolve ethical dilemmas that they face because actions cannot be postponed for indefinite period in certain situations. Rushworth Kidder has suggested nine steps for dealing with an ethical dilemma which are as follows:
1. Define the problem/moral issue correctly.
2. Determine the people who will be affected by decision and your role.
3. Analyse how events happened.
4. Test for right versus wrong issues; is it illegal? How will you resolve the things if you I stood on the other side?
5. Test right versus right paradigms.
6. Apply three approaches to resolve the dilemma. First is end-based thinking, that is, do whatever proceeds the greatest good for the greatest number. Second is rule based thinking, that is, follow rules. Third Is care-based thinking, that is, do to others what you would like them to do to you.
7. Investigate if there is any other way out of the situation.
8. Make decision and take action.
9. Revisit and reflect on the decision.