19 Dec 2022


What Is an Ethical Dilemma? - Definition & Examples

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The issue of ethics among professionals starts with integrity. In this context, the term ethics will be used to refer to morally acceptable principles that govern the behavior and actions of individuals. As such, professionals can show their commitment to ethics by living and working while adhering to the laid down moral principles. Essentially, the actions of an individual need to be consistent with the set principles irrespective of the circumstance they are in. Shafer-Landau, (2010) indicated that integrity is a reflection of wholeness, adherence to the laid principles and coherence in an individual’s behavior. Therefore, the best point when integrity is put to the real test is when a person faces adversity. In this case, the issue at Wheaton College is a specific instance of integrity on trial. The decision by the school management has received mixed opinions from the public. However, the move by the administration was plausible since it showed not only moral wisdom but also adherence to the set principles. 

Faith-based institutions have the mandate of ensuring that their stakeholders adhere to their established policies. Typically, most of their guiding principles are religious based. Since the Obama administration took office, these institutions have been faced with many challenges. Nevertheless, the biggest test of their virtue ethics came after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under this Act, these institutions were required to select an insurance company of their choice to provide their employees and students with birth control cover (Nationalreview, 2015) . Agreeing to such ideologies implies that the organization would have moved away from their principles which on religious grounds indicates that they would have committed sin (Chicagotribute.com, 2017)

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Since the government was forcing these institutions to incorporate the coverage on their health-based systems, the best way that the college would address the matter is to shun their healthcare coverage. Failure to do that would render them non-compliant. Consequentially, they would be subjected to the instruments of law. On the other hand, dropping their health plans did not exempt them from penalties (Nationalreview, 2015) . However, it was morally right for the college management to maintain their identity by standing by their set principles. This was a sign of moral wisdom. The idea of moral wisdom was coined by Aristotle to separate between the conventional notion of right and wrong from the practical ability to take the right course of action in difficult situations that people face (Shafer-Landau, 2010). 

The institution, in this case, was faced with two difficult choices to make. These were to embrace the ACA proposal or to adhere to its principles. If the college had chosen to follow the ACA plan, it would have lost its moral identity since their actions would be inconsistent with their religious belief. As such, they would have committed sin. On the other hand, by choosing to defend its principles by dropping its health care plans, the college was able to maintain its religious virtues (Chicagotribute.com, 2017) . Aristotle indicated that during difficult times, people are always faced with the many challenges regarding honesty and purpose. Aristotle noted that people will always wonder how they can properly integrate honesty and purpose in their lives (Shafer-Landau, 2010). As such, they will always wonder how they can pursue purpose with determination and vigor. They are also puzzled how they can practice honesty in the best way in their lives. However, Aristotle indicated that the best answer to such question is moral wisdom (Shafer-Landau, 2010). 

The manner in which the government was addressing the contraceptive cover issue it appeared as if it was against religious based institutions. When it comes to the contraceptive issue, it is unwise for individuals to limit their thoughts on the fact that the government was interested in providing such coverage. People need to be aware that many ways exist in which the government would have achieved this goal without necessarily piggybacking on the health plans that were employer-based. As such, the Obama administration would have adopted other ways than going through the insurance companies that such institutions had hired (Nationalreview, 2015) . Such actions would show that the government was purely interested in providing the employees of faith-based institutions with abortifacients and contraceptives cover. 

Furthermore, every institution has its own strategy of hiring. As such, the hiring teams have their own moral judgment of assessing whether they can hire a particular candidate to offer services in their institutions (Nationalreview, 2015) . During this process, the recruiting officers usually ensure that the persons they hire are versant with the culture of their organizations and are willing to abide by them at all cost. This implies that faith-based organizations could not hire service providers who do not comply with their moral or religious norms. Compelling such institutions to go against their conscience was an act of desperateness by the government. 

In conclusion, the move by the management of the institutions was ethically right since it demonstrated an act of integrity. With the help of moral wisdom, the schools weighed the value of the course of each action to find the best that suits their organization. The final decision by the management to shun its health plans ensured that they protect their religious principles. Agreeing to follow the ACA ideologies would imply that the organization would have moved away from their moral principles. From a religious point of view, this would mean that they would have committed sin because they would be indirectly supporting immoral acts in the society. 


Chicagotribute.com. (2017). Wheaton College ends coverage amid fights against birth control mandate . Retrieved on 1 February 2017 from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-wheaton-college-ends-student-insurance-met-20150728-story.html. 

NationalReview (2015). The Government’s Dishonest Defense on Obamacare’s Contraceptive Mandate . Retrieved on 1 February 2017 from http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421548/governments-dishonest-defense-obamacares-contraceptive-mandate-noel-j-francisco-paul. 

Shafer-Landau, R. (2010).   The Fundamentals of Ethics . New York: Oxford University Press, Print. 

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