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What is moral dilemma?

Introduction to Ethics: ( Moral Dilemma)


Questioner: John!…One day I was sleeping in my house. It was already midnight. I heard a sound of the knock at the door. I opened the door and found a 20 year old boy, bleeding. He asked me to close the door immediately. He said that police were after him. He explained that he was an orphan and had no shelter or food. When he was wandering in the streets, he was chased by the police. He was bleeding as he came through thorny bushes. As he was briefing the incident, I heard the door knocked again. This time vehemently. The boy rushed to the bottom of the cot while I opened the door with hesitation. The police enquired if any stranger came into my house. If I said the TRUTH, the police would catch the young boy and might torture him even before proper enquiry. If I said a LIE, my conscience would kill me. What best could I have done?

John: Child!….this is called a moral dilemma.

Questioner: I don’t understand…can you please explain?

John: Child!….you want to say TRUTH (remain truthful) and also want to save the boy. Isn’t?

Questioner: Yes.

John: you have two options. Let’s say A and B. If you do A, you can’t do B. If you do B, you can’t do A. Can you relate this to your situation?

Questioner: I want to save the boy, that’s A. I also want to be truthful, that’s B. If I save the boy, I can’t be truthful. If I say the truth, I can’t save the boy. I must accept either A or B.

John: so what is moral dilemma?

Questioner: Moral dilemma is a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable. Both possibilities are dangerous.

John: Well said. This is moral dilemma.

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