Dilemma: A Reflective Exercise
A. INSTRUCTIONS: The following questionnaire is a
reflective exercise designed to increase your insight into: 1) your personal
ethical values, 2) the moral reasoning process, and 3) the complexity and
difficulty of real-life moral conflicts. Read the questions carefully a couple
of times, but donít answer them immediately. Take 2-3 days to reflect on them,
formulate your responses, and consolidate your recollection of the moral
conflict in question. If necessary, refresh your memory by consulting with any
other individuals who were participants in the situation.
B. QUESTIONNAIRE: All of us have experienced situations in our life that required a choice
between competing courses of action. In particular, a moral dilemma
occurs when we are faced with a situation in which mutually exclusive (the
choice of one option excludes the other alternative) choices or courses of
action are experienced as equally binding (right, good, obligatory). As such, a
moral dilemma is not the moral conflict or anguish we undergo when faced
with a choice between the morally right and wrong, however we conceive these to
be. Rather, as in the example of the Sartre student, it occurs when we are torn
or divided between two courses of action that are both moral, but only
one course can be chosen. Consequently, a moral dilemma forces us to deliberate
about which action(s) is morally superior or preferable, even though both
choices make a claim on our conscience. In a moral dilemma one is unsure of what
he or she should do because the alternatives appear equally moral. Accordingly,
answer the questions below on a moral dilemma youíve experienced in the past
1. Briefly describe the
situation you found yourself in.
2. What was the moral
conflict for you in this specific situation? Explain why you think it was a
moral conflict for you.
3. In deliberating about
what to do, what factors or issues did you consider? Why did you consider these
4. What did you finally
decide and do? What was the basis of your decision?
5. What was the eventual
outcome of your action(s)? How did the situation turn out? What happened?
6. Thinking back upon it
now, do you think you did the right thing? Why/why not?
7. In retrospect, what did
you learn from the dilemma you described?
8. Finally, what does
morality in general mean to you? And how did the described situation constitute
a moral dilemma for you?