What Is Ethical Dilemma?

Ethical dilemma is a condition in which ethical principles or teachings faces controversy or rather conflict resulting into lack an effective affirmative action.  According to Bonner & Vandecreek (2006), ethical dilemma is an argument between two moral precepts on what is perceived to be wrong or right. Basically, ethical dilemma is any situation that can be perceived or interpreted differently by different people. Generally, when one is faced with an ethical dilemma, he has options to choose one. However, one has to justify the reason why that option seems desirable than all the others. Ethical dilemma requires one to make a decision that can either be ethical or unethical.

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People faced with moral dilemma would find themselves uncomfortable because they don’t know which decision to make. Each decision has its consequences. For instance, if one choose to pursue what seems to be right ethically, his decisions may affect his career or his life in general. For example, if a an officer in prison finds his working mate harassing and bullying the inmate in the name of disciplining him and the inmate doesn’t report, he is faced with two course of action. First, the officer can choose to say nothing about the whole thing in order to protect his colleague. The consequence of this decision is that the inmate would not get justice for being harassed and bullied by a police officer. Additionally, the police officer may continue harassing and torturing inmate.  Moreover, the officer would not fear losing his job and he will maintain friendship with the other officer. The second course of action to be taken by the police is to report his colleague for harassing and torturing inmate without any reason. Consequently, the police would pay for his mistakes. Also, the inmate would be contented and will live peacefully without fear of being harassed again. However, the officer faced with this dilemma may suffer tough consequences including even losing his job. Enmity may also arise between the two officers.

In our case study, Charles Swift, a professional lawyer faces an ethical dilemma. Swift was appointed in the defense counsel and had a responsibility of providing exceptional service to the Guantanamo detainees (Greenhouse, 2008). In this respect, he was to represent Salim Ahmed Hamdan  in the court of Law. Hamdan was a Yemeni who once worked for a well renowned terrorist Osama Bin Laden as a driver. Swift was being prevented to adequately represent his client. He had to follow the necessary steps of making decision when one is faced with ethical dilemma. The first step involves putting the facts together. On this front, Swift before taking any decision proved that there was no any real due process in the place where he worked. After being told that he must accept a guilty plea if he wanted to meet his client, he realized that the military commission did not follow the due process of law. Basically, there are standardized codes of military justice to be followed by any military commission. Additionally, military commission is expected to follow the general convention as well as the rule of law that is applied and accepted in United States for over two and a half centuries (Greenhouse, 2008). Having gathered all these facts as well as the relevant rules and conventions, the next step is to assess the moral dilemma for each party. If he decides to gie in and accept guilty plea for his, he would maintain his job and get his promotion without any barrier. Hamdan on the other hand would not get justice. Also, his rights to do his job according to the required rules and procedure would be tampered with. He may even a time find himself not able to act professionally while representing another client. This may affect him both psychologically and mentally and he would not enjoy his job. Besides, the consequence of this course of action involves impunity to the other party. His chain of command would continue using impunity to issue commands. Also, the detainees would not be given justice by the state. The other course of action that swift could take includes standing with his client without fear of being intimidated and suing the entire chain of command including the president of United Stated of America. The consequence of this decision could b harsh and fruitful at the same time. If swift decides to stand by his client and at the same time sue the entire chain of command, he will be risking losing his promotion and even his job. Similarly, He may be exposing himself to the risk of being assassinated. However, he would help to promote justice and to end impunity in the military commissions. His client would get justice. This would favor the lawyers working with the commission. Additionally, the detainees would be assured of justice in future. Swift weighed the two options and made his decision based on his personality and belief. He opted for the second course of action of standing with his client and suing the entire chain of command in the military commission including President of United States of America George W. Bush. Swift placed the interest of detainees above his own interest. He believed that ending impunity will be ethically better than getting a promotion. The ethical system used by swift to end impunity in Bush administration is the Supreme Court of law. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor by stating that the president had gone beyond his power. The consequences of Swift course of action followed. Although justice was prevailed by the supreme court of law, Swift was forced to go to an early retirement. Similarly, he did not get his promotion his superiors claim that he cannot be promoted on the basis of performance only. Consequently, as a result of Navy’s promotional policies, he had to go for an early retirement at the age of 44 years. However, he facilitated further development in military commission including enactment of military Act of 2006. Besides, Swift even after leaving the commission, he still opposes the undesirable military policies and advocates for the rule of law.


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Abuse of power

Power is associated with corruption and potential for abuse if pondered on the hands of few individuals without effective monitoring and control., (Harris, 2010)claim that the abuse of power is mainly associated with every kind of power including, political power. As a result of abuse of power, the golden rule governing mankind is either distorted or overhauled. According to Haag (2006), power is by nature immoral and thus in circumstances when people found themselves controlling lives, they become selfish and greed like a man who is starving of hanger. Basically, most victims of abuse of power involve human experience. Generally, abuse of power by political and other leaders leads to undesirable public policies, ineffective justice system and aggressiveness in collective problem solving process. Consequently, this may results into suffering and even death of innocent human being. In order to stop and reverse the effects of abuse of power to human being, leaders should exhibit the social, ethical and legal responsibilities toward the victims by providing services professionally without breaching any professional ethics. This would imply that leaders, political, social and religious leaders should be ready to put the public interest above their personal interest. In other words, they should be ethical egoist.

Code of conduct to for resolving dilemma

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The author has provided two codes of conduct for resolving dilemma. First, the author suggests is ethical system. Accordingly, ethical system is a framework that governs the lives of human being by deciding what is right or wrong. Ethical systems are characterised by several features.  First, they provide moral beliefs to the people. Second, they are established principles from which one makes his/her judgments. Third, they are considered to be past judgments. In this respect, the basic truths and principles are the basis for making decisions. According to Keith (2002), ethical systems are prescriptive, authoritative, universal and self-serving. Ethical systems are prescriptive because they view certain behavior as mandatory to every individual by being authoritative, ethical systems do not base their decisions on propositions or debates. These systems are directed to serve all individual and apply their rules uniformly without discrimination.

Another code of conduct described by the author is ethical formalism. Ethical formalism is used to determine the status of an act in terms of morality. It helps to recognize moral actions by considering the motive of the actor disregard of the consequences. Accordingly, Huberts, Kaptein, & Lasthuizen (2007), argue that the only thing in this world that can be considered as good is “goodwill”. If an individual does a good thing which results into undesirable consequences, his action is considered as moral. However, if an individual choose to do wrong thing which results into positive consequences, the action is not moral. Thus when one is faced with an ethical dilemma the code of conduct that can help solve this dilemma is ethical system and ethical formation.

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