Ethics 2: #1 Definition

Provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide an illustrative example for the term “ethical dilemma” (minimum 100 words, excluding the definition)

Ethical dilemma” refers to a complex situation that often involves an apparent mental conflict between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another. This concept can be related to Plato’s notion of justice, where the soul’s three parts – reason, spirit, and appetite – must each fulfill their function properly, and conflicts among them give rise to ethical dilemmas (“Plato’s Ethics: An Overview”).

My understanding of ethical dilemmas revolves around the idea that they occur when multiple moral principles, all seemingly correct, collide. This collision demands a decision but choosing any of the options invariably involves a violation of some moral principle, much like the struggle between the different parts of the soul as mentioned Plato’s theory of justice.

An example of this could be a journalist protecting a source‚Äôs identity versus the public’s right to know about potential wrongdoing. Here, both professional integrity and societal responsibility are important, yet in conflict. Similar to justice conflicting with desire for material gain (“Plato’s Ethics: An Overview”).

This complex interplay of moral principles in ethical dilemmas is central to many discussions in ethics and has substantial implications in various decision-making processes, akin to the problem-solving process delineated by Srinivas. The resolution of these dilemmas often involves defining the problem, understanding its context, generating and analyzing potential solutions, and finally, implementing the best solution(s).


  • “Plato’s Ethics: An Overview.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 2009.
  • Srinivas, Hari. “The Problem Solving Process.” The Global Development Research Center.

(Word Count: 223)

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