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Doing the Right Thing: How to Make Ethical Decisions

We are constantly faced with difficult decisions that require us to determine what is the right thing to do. Many times, we find ourselves in situations where there is no clear solution, and we are forced to make choices that will have far-reaching consequences.

In this article, we will discuss how to make ethical decisions, drawing on examples from history, literature, and personal anecdotes. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to approach difficult decisions and make choices that align with your values and beliefs.

Key Takeaways

  • Doing the right thing is not always black and white; many times, there is no clear solution and multiple perspectives to consider.
  • Personal beliefs and values play a significant role in decision-making, but it’s essential to consider others’ feelings and perspectives.
  • Drawing on historical and literary examples can provide insight into how others have approached ethical dilemmas.
  • In personal situations, it’s important to consider social norms and pressures but also make choices that align with our personal beliefs and values.
  • Reflecting on our values and beliefs can help us make difficult decisions and ensure that our choices align with our principles.

Navigating Ethical Dilemmas: Examples and Strategies

One of the most effective ways to understand how to make ethical decisions is to examine examples of how others have approached challenging situations.

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Historical Example: The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement is a pivotal moment in American history, and it is an excellent example of how ethical dilemmas can arise when societal values are at odds. During this time, there were many different perspectives on what was the right thing to do. Some argued for peaceful protests, while others advocated for more aggressive forms of resistance.

Ultimately, the leaders of the movement, like Martin Luther King Jr., used strategic planning and nonviolent resistance to fight for racial equality. By looking at the Civil Rights Movement, we can see how values like justice and equality can guide decision-making and provide a framework for approaching ethical dilemmas.

Personal Example: Handling a Workplace Dilemma

Navigating ethical dilemmas in the workplace is a common challenge. For example, what should you do if you witness a colleague engaging in unethical behavior? What if your boss asks you to do something that goes against your personal beliefs?

In such situations, it’s essential to consider not only your personal beliefs and values but also the potential consequences of any decisions. It may be helpful to talk to a trusted colleague, seek guidance from a supervisor or HR representative, and think through the long-term implications of any decisions.

Social Example: Deciding Whether to Protest

In modern times, we have seen many social movements arise that raise ethical questions. For example, should you participate in protests and social movements that advocate for policies and beliefs that align with your values, even if they may not be universally accepted?

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In these cases, it’s important to reflect on your personal beliefs and values, consider the potential consequences, and find ways to engage in advocacy that aligns with your principles while respecting the perspectives of others.


Making ethical decisions is not always easy, but by drawing on historical and literary examples, reflecting on our values and beliefs, and considering the perspectives of others, we can navigate challenging situations and make choices that align with our principles. At the end of the day, doing the right thing often requires us to step outside our comfort zones, embrace nuance, and prioritize the common good over individual interests.


Q: What should I do if I find myself in an ethical dilemma?A: It’s important to reflect on your personal beliefs and values, seek guidance from trusted sources, and think through the potential consequences of any decisions.

Q: Is there a clear solution to ethical dilemmas?A: Many times, there is no clear solution, and multiple perspectives need to be considered. Personal beliefs and values, as well as the perspectives of others, play a significant role in decision-making.

Q: How can I ensure that my choices align with my principles?A: Reflecting on your values and beliefs, considering potential consequences, and seeking guidance from trusted sources can help you make choices that align with your principles.

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