Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical Dilemmas

A dilemma is a grim problem that appears to be devoid of a satisfactory solution or a situation in which one must choose between two equally unsatisfactory options. Ethical dilemmas, also known as moral dilemmas or ethical paradoxes, are situations in which a decision must be made between two options, neither of which is ethically acceptable. In such cases, societal and personal ethical guidelines will not be able to provide the chooser with a satisfactory outcome.
•    An ethical dilemma is a difficult situation in which there appears to be a mental conflict between moral imperatives, in which obeying one would mean transgressing the other.
•    As a result, an ethical dilemma can be defined as a situation in which a decision must be made between competing ideologies in an unfavourable or perplexing situation.
•    Conflicts of interest are perhaps the most obvious example of a situation that could put public sector leaders in a moral bind.
According to Ellis and Hartley, ethical dilemmas have no perfect solution, and those who make decisions may find themselves in a position where they must defend their choices.
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However, ethical dilemmas typically take one of two forms:

1.    Either evidence or argument establishes that both acts are morally correct, and the strength of both sides' arguments is inconclusive. OR
2.    An agent believes that she or he is obligated to perform two or more mutually exclusive actions on moral grounds.


Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical dilemmas can be classified into three groups.

1.    Private Cost Ethical Dilemmas: These occur when adhering to ethical standards comes at a significant personal cost to the decision maker in a difficult situation. 
2.    Right-versus-Right Ethical Dilemmas: These arise when two or more sets of genuine ethical values conflict. 
3.   Conjoint Ethical Dilemmas: When a careful decision-maker is confronted with a combination of the above-mentioned ethical dilemmas while searching for the "right-thing-to-do," it results in conjoint ethical dilemmas.


•    Bribery, nepotism, graft, patronage, influence peddling, use of official property, documents, or positions for private gain, non-adherence to official rules, and so on are all examples of unethical behaviour. 
•    Administrators' service conduct rules forbid them from engaging in these activities in various sections and clauses. It is commonly assumed that administrative personnel who do not participate in these activities are the ones who are ethical. 
•    These conduct rules only discuss the 'Don'ts,' not so much the 'Dos,' and they don't mention any behavioural norms that can be followed during times of conflict and indecision. The majority of the service rules book is devoted to topics such as post classification, service conditions, penalties, appellate authorities, and forms of appeal, among others.
•    In cases of decisional dilemmas, the terms 'choice' and 'option' are not mentioned. This may cause havoc in the day-to-day operations of government and result in situations that are difficult to comprehend.

•    O.P. Dwivedi raises a number of fundamental issues that can arise as a result of ambiguous conduct norms. He refers to them as ethical quandaries. These are the following:

1.    What kinds of favours are acceptable without being considered impolite and impolite? Is it necessary to avoid all types of gifts and hospitality? Is it better to keep it to a bare minimum? If that's the case, what should the bare minimum be?
2.     Is a government employee only a government employee during working hours? Or should ethical standards be followed outside of working hours as well?
3.    Should public servants interpret policies and programmes based on their own personal sense of right and wrong, or should they only follow the values of the institutions they serve?
4.    What should public employees do if their personal honesty and integrity seem out of place in their workplace?


A.    Should every favour given to a friend or relative be regarded as unethical? A gift can be turned into a bribe under a variety of circumstances. Favouring people from the same caste or region is not considered unethical by anyone in a system that tends toward actriptive rather than achievement-oriented patterns of working. 
B.    What if public employees are forced to engage in unethical behaviour as a result of the organization's strict rules and procedures? Occasionally, breaking the rules is necessary.
C.    Political pressures, legal guidelines, tight deadlines, media exposure, and the expectations of those who are directly affected by policies can sometimes lead to administrators disregarding ethical norms. Too many demands can conflict with administrative demands for efficiency and speed.
•    The service conduct rules were established many years ago and are incapable of resolving the aforementioned conflict situations. The nature of government administration has changed dramatically, as has the definition of ethics. 
•    In order to provide some answers to these very important questions, it is now necessary to update these service rules and guidelines in light of the changes. 
•    Bureaucrats are frequently irritated by the growing politicisation of administration, as well as politicians' manipulation of their promotion paths and transfers, whereas politicians accuse the system of being over bureaucratized. 
•    The first step toward resolving these issues would be to clarify the administrator's role and mandate in relation to those who came into direct contact with them.
•    The demands of law, duty, impartiality, due process, and other ethical dilemmas provide fertile ground for public officials attempting to function as professionals.

Some of the most common ethical dilemmas that public servants has to face are regarding following issues:

1.    Corruption  
2.    Administrative discretion 
3.    Nepotism 
4.    Administrative secrecy 
5.    Information leaks 
6.    Public accountability 
7.    Policy dilemmas 


•    "Giving or obtaining advantage through means that are illegitimate, immoral, and/or inconsistent with one's duty or the rights of others" is what corruption is defined as. 
•    Following culturally accepted norms is not always the ethical choice, according to our modern understanding of ethics. What may have been acceptable at one point in history, such as racism or sexism, has become unacceptable as society's mind set has evolved.
•    What happens when business practises don't change along with the culture? Is the behaviour unethical, and is the person who is engaging in it unethical? There may be conflicts with business practises in some cultures, such as gift giving, which has evolved into bribery, which is a form of corruption.
•    Gift giving, for example, has been an established practise in Japan for centuries and is still taken seriously. Gift-giving guidelines vary depending on the giver's or recipient's identity, the length of the business relationship, and the number of gifts exchanged. Gifts are given by the Japanese out of a sense of obligation and duty, as well as to express feelings of gratitude and regret. As a result, the appropriateness of the gift, as well as its aesthetic beauty, are both carefully considered. Bribery is fairly common in many countries, and bribes are frequently in the form of grease payments, which are small inducements meant to speed up decisions and transactions.
•    Public officials' moral standards, on the other hand, are inextricably linked to society as a whole. If the public accepts that a monetary or other incentive is required to get a quick response from a public official, and the official accepts the incentive, then the public's ethical standards and the officials' standards of ethical conduct are in fact in harmony.
•    However, if the official's values do not allow for such societal norms, then an ethical dilemma may arise.


•    Public officials are more than just enablers and executors of policy. They make decisions that affect people's lives, such as tax decisions made by government officials. 
•    They use discretion in doing so. The question then becomes how to make decisions in order to avoid ethical dilemmas. In other words, the use or abuse of administrative discretion has a significant impact on the promotion of general welfare.
•    True, there is plenty of room for the public official to exercise discretion within the confines of the legislation's rules and regulations, as well as the prescribed procedures.
•    When given a choice between two options, the public official's choice poses an ethical dilemma. The issue is that choosing one course of action from among several options is frequently based on personal preference, political or other affiliations, or even personal aggrandisement, ignoring known facts and thus the possibility of rational decision making. 
•    It's possible that all of the established rules, regulations, and procedures are followed, but the discretionary decision is unethical or even corrupt.


•    The secret conduct of public business is an area that lends itself to the creation of situations and actions that could prove to be major ethical dilemmas. 
•    This is especially true because secrecy can be used to conceal unethical behaviour. Corruption thrives on secrecy, and corruption is always carried out in secret. 
•    It is widely accepted that in a democracy, citizens have a right to know what the government intends to do, and that open administration of public affairs is in the public's best interests.


•    The practise of nepotism (appointing relatives and/or friends to public positions without regard for merit) may result in a reduction in the quality of public service. 
•    Due to the ability of a select few to impair control measures due to their personal relationship with the policy-maker and their inability to be easily dismissed or replaced by others, this disrupts the esprit de corps and trust, resulting in corrupt administration. 
•    In other words, those who are appointed with the expectation of adhering to the standards and viewpoints of their appointing authority may face difficulties. 
•    Preferential treatment of one individual over another without regard for the relative merits of the two individuals is nothing more than victimisation of one or more individuals.


•    Official information is frequently of such a sensitive nature (for example, pending tax increases, land rezoning, or staff retrenchment) that its disclosure can result in chaos, corruption, or, in the case of some individuals, improper monetary gains. 
•    Leaking official information before it is publicly announced is a violation of procedural requirements and can create an ethical dilemma.


•    Because public officials are the implementers of public policies, they should be held accountable to their superiors, the courts, and the general public for their official actions. 
•    Nonetheless, they may be able to conceal themselves behind prescribed procedures, the cloak of professionalism, and even political office-bearers.


Ethical Dilemmas
•    Policymakers are frequently faced with competing responsibilities. They owe specific allegiances to their superiors as well as society.
•    They have the freedom to act on behalf of and in the interests of others, but they must account for their actions to others – their superiors and society. 
•    The official's obligation to respect the political process may conflict with his views on how policymakers should treat the objects of their decisions.
•    In other words, the public official's dilemma is a conflict between his view of the public interest and the legal requirements.


•    A problem of what it appears to be is more complex and demanding than an ethical dilemma. These conundrums cannot be resolved based on their current state of presentation. 
•    The decision maker is faced with a difficult situation in which he must choose between mutually exclusive alternatives, each of which is equally important.
•    A dilemma, on the other hand, can be effectively resolved by altering and reformulating all of the options in a systematic and coherent manner. A sequence of logical reasoning sets is proposed to integrate and rearrange the process of dealing with ethical dilemmas in order to resolve ethical dilemmas.

•    They are as follows:

1.    Accountability: The bureaucracy's devotion to the ministers is based on their obligation to be accountable and responsible to the legislature, which is responsible to the people's will and the common good. As a result, civil servants have a fundamental ethical obligation to act impartially and discreetly in the performance of their duties and responsibilities, and to keep their personal preferences at bay. 
2.    The rule of law and the principle of legality: In politics and society, the rule of law is fundamental and universal. The principle of legality must be respected and adhered to in order to exercise authority. The law establishes a minimum moral standard. Violation of the law is what unethical behaviour entails. In the past, in the event of a conflict, the enforcement of the law should take precedence. 
3.    Professional integrity: In the administrative profession, knowledge and expertise should be applied in accordance with certain professional ethics standards, such as avoiding corruption in service delivery. 
4.    Responsiveness: A key aspect of good governance is the government's responsiveness to its citizens. In this regard, ethical reasoning in government action entails that public institutions respond to society and pay attention to people's needs and demands, facilitating access to services and creating an enabling environment for long-term human and social development.

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