Chapter 3: Ethical Dilemmas and the Process of Effective Resolution

3.1 Ethical Dilemmas

When we are confronted with a problem or an issue for which we are required to make a difficult decision, we face a dilemma. The decision may be difficult because there are at least two competing values we are forced to choose between. For example, we may want to purchase an expensive product, but we may have to decide between an expensive, higher-quality product and a cheaper, inferior product. Our decision will involve balancing the values between saving money and purchasing a product that may perform better and last longer. The decision is often difficult, and sometimes we make the wrong decision with the best of intentions of making the right decision.

In order to solve ethical dilemmas, we must be aware of what values we consider important. Pollock (2010, p.13) defines values as unverifiable “elements of desirability, worth and importance.” They are unverifiable because they are not capable of being scientifically proven and may vary from person to person. Evans and MacMillan (2014) define values as opinions and beliefs that we decide are beneficial or important. Before we address how we can solve ethical dilemmas, we need to understand what values are and why they are so important.


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Ethics in Law Enforcement Copyright © 2015 by Steve McCartney and Rick Parent is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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