Step by step through a moral dilemma (Henk van Luijk)
- What is the main moral issue?
- Who are the participants in the case?
- Who has to make a decision?
- What information is needed?
- What arguments can be provided?
- What is my conclusion?
- How do I feel about it?
Step 1. What is the main moral issue?
- Formulate potential key moral issues in the question form: Is it morally acceptable/neccessary?…
Select the most acute issue for further investigation.
Formulating the key moral question:
Is it morally acceptable that the person A is carrying out action X although…?
Step 2. Who are the participants in the case?
- Everyone/all (stakeholders) whose values, rights, interests have to be considered in the given case
Step 3. Who has to make a decision?
- Whose task/duty is to decide?
Responsible persons and/or institutions
All those who can influence the decision in the given case and from who this can be reasonably expected.
(Don‘t include the persons who caused the problem/dilemma)
Step 4. What information is needed?
Is extra information needed to make a rational decision?
Information is sufficient;
Extra information would do good but it is not essential;
Extra information is needed.
Step 5. What arguments can be provided?
- List the arguments for
- List the arguments against
- Consider the arguments from the perspective of:
“Your moral duty is to select an action alternative that does not contradict a valid moral norm, value, right, irrespective of the consequences of the choice“.
- Privacy (primarily – rights)
“ Your moral duty is to select an action alternative whose consequences will bring as much benefit to the participant groups as possible”
Cost-benefit type analysis, considering interests of all the participating groups
Affect on the environment
- Workplace climate
Rule of thumb
When principles and consequences are in conflict, priority is granted to the principles:
Unless you have a reasoned background to claim that consequences in the given situation are more important than principles.
Step 6. What is the conclusion?
6.1 Weigh all pros and contras:
Use the rule of thumb when there is a conflict between them
6.2 Formulate the conclusion which would answer the key moral issue
6.3 Determine sequence of actions which would not vary from the conclusion and consider the counterarguments (minimize the “moral remainder”)
Step 7. How do I feel?
(Listening to the conscience)
- Am I ready to voice my position in public/a discussion with the participating persons?
- Would I behave the same in a similar situation in the future?
(Thank to Prof Raminta Pucetaite from Lithuania for this