A brief word on wrestling with ethical dilemmas

As part of a “Professional Practice” course I’m in the midst of, we’ve been asked to discuss an ethical dilemma.  To prepare us to have a meaningful discussion, we were referred to a summary of Kidder’s book “How Good People Make Tough Choices”.  To my surprise, one of the ethical dilemmas we’ve been presented with is one that I’ve struggled with personally more than once now: a student has had issues in the past but has improved greatly, and although they come very close they don’t quite meet the requirements to pass a course, do I as their instructor find some way to allow them to pass?

There’s plenty of additional information to be had for sure, and the scenario is far more nuanced than I’ve presented here.  But in reading through Kidder’s paradigms for “right vs. right” dilemmas and his “principles for resolving ethical dilemmas”, I find all of them relevant!  Although his “nine steps for ethical decision making” don’t purport to provide The Answer (which doesn’t likely exist, or it wouldn’t be an ethical dilemma!), I look forward to working my way through the process.  I’ll be curious to see if after discussing it with others and working through a more formalized series of steps, whether I’ll come to the same conclusions that I had when I dealt with remarkably similar situations in “real life”!



Kidder, R.M. (2009) How good people make tough choices: Resolving the dilemmas of ethical living. (Rev. ed.) New York: Harper Perennial.


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