Right vs Right Dilemma
The ethical decision-making process laid out by Dr. Rushworth M. Kidder is laid out by 9 very important checkpoints. Checkpoint number 4, Right vs Right paradigms is one of the most important ones. Right vs Right refers to the ethical dilemmas that are that way because each side represents entrenched basic and core values. The four paradigms, according to Kidder, are Truth vs Loyalty, Individual vs Community, Short-Term vs Long-Term, and Justice vs. Mercy. In short these paradigms represent, respectively, dilemmas where the core values at stake are honest vs commitment, us vs them, immediate desires vs future goals, and fairness vs compassion (Dennis 1997).
One of the reasons this concept is so intriguing is that it represents that “gray” aspect of ethics that people are unafraid to really touch upon and are probably among the more crucial ethical crises a person will expect in their lifetime. The reality of life demands that people need to be able to not just hammer their way through tough choices but “to get it right” (Kidder, 1995). Right vs wrong is much easier to deal with than Right vs. Right because that is just moral temptation. In Truth vs Loyalty for instance, it “is right to stand on truth. It is right to be loyal” (Kidder, 1995). It is the notion that one is being asked to support one core belief over another.
In the context of my own life, the right vs right dilemma I constantly find myself in are those of mercy vs justice and individual vs community.
Mercy vs Justice is something I encounter quite often in regards to sales. Both as a customer and a saleswoman. When I used to sell electricity contracts door-to-door, most customers would find any way to close and end the conversation- they simply do not want to be bothered. This one lady told me her husband was responsible for all the decisions in regards to the electric bill but he was currently taking a shower. After giving this woman the full sales pitch (30 more seconds), her husband “magically” appeared in full garb. Now I could have commented on this turn of events- that would be the humorous but also just thing to do, because she was lying to me. But the mercy aspect of me sees that her lie was not malicious because she simply wanted to find a way out of a sales conversation with me as soon as possible. So the merciful actions, as well as the more business wise but also ethically correct answer- would be not to acknowledge that she lied to me. This spares her and her husband any humiliation and lets things go on.
Community vs Individual dilemmas are another thing I find myself in quite often. I am engaged with many different and important social communities. I owe the people in these communities the same kind of effort they put into me. But at the same time, I totally value my own personal alone time. I am actually really quite introverted so its quite taxing one me to engage so much socially. I tend to lean heavily towards community at the expense of my individuality. The course and this assignment makes me feel that I should rethink not only the communities I am a part of but how active I want to be a participant in each.
The assignment and the course in general makes me realize that there is a whole lot more to ethical decision making than one would think. The Right vs Right paradigms I think are leading me to inquire more heavily into the area of business ethics- a realm where right vs right is examined heavily because ” where the right course is clear, but real-world competitive and institutional pressures lead even well-intentioned managers astray” (Stark, 1993). This field has expanded greatly into the modern day, defining even business organization patterns. As globalization, the adoption and spread of the internet, and shifting political balances occur- the need for ethical business evaluation is much needed in today’s world.