Characteristics of an Ethical Dilemma

Many situations can raise ethical concerns, particularly in the face of disagreement and conflict between parties. However, not all situations of an ethical nature result in a values conflict or constitute an ethical dilemma. Consider the following cases:

1.    Two physicians disagree on the course of treatment for a patient creating conflict between members of the patient’s family.

2.    A commercial plane filled with passengers is hijacked and an F-16 fighter jet is called to prevent the plane from crashing into schools and government buildings. Loss of life (in the air or on the ground) is likely.

Which of the cases is an example of an ethical dilemma? Why?

Explain the characteristics of an ethical dilemma. How do they differ from those of other situations resulting in disagreement between conflicting preferences, needs, or expectations?
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