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How to Write a Paper on Ethical Dilemmas

by Kristyn Hammond, Demand Media Google
    Papers on ethical dilemmas let you practice making ethical decisions.

    Papers on ethical dilemmas let you practice making ethical decisions.

    An ethical dilemma occurs when two or more specific ethical ideals are at odds and you must make a decision, founded on your logical assessment, about which ethical ideal is more important. Ethical dilemmas allow you to investigate ethical questions from an analytical point of view and make a final determination for yourself. In a paper format, this process is the same and you must make sure that each point is clear and logical.

    Step 1

    Outline the specific ethical dilemma to identify the focus of your topic. If your topic does not contain a specific ethical dilemma, create one for yourself to use as an example through your writing. Make sure that your dilemma is ethical in nature by ensuring that it challenges two separate ethical assertions and forces you to decide between the two. For instance, you may decide to use the ethical dilemma of a hungry person deciding to steal food for himself and his family.

    Step 2

    Determine which ethical standards are being challenged and in what way they are being challenged, to outline your ethical dilemma. List all significant elements of your ethical dilemma. As an example, the question of whether or not to steal for survival challenges the ethical forbearance against theft contrasted with the need for survival. You can consider other ethical elements, such as the difference between the loss of food by the store owner against the loss of life by the thief and his family.

    Step 3

    Create your paper outline and arrange the elements of your ethical dilemma into individual sections. Make sure that your paper’s logic flows freely through your paper in order to allow you to arrive at a conclusion. For instance, your first section may question the ethical forbearance against theft and whether it is absolute. Your second section may question the right to survival and whether it is absolute. Your final section may compare the difference in severity between the shopkeeper who loses some food and the family that could perish for lack of it. This could become complex because the shopkeeper could end up in the same situation if enough of his stock is stolen.

    Step 4

    Write your paper with a strong introduction that grabs your reader’s attention and establishes your paper’s thesis. Write each section individually, clearly examining your points throughout, and include clear transition statements between each of your sections.

    Step 5

    Create a conclusion that brings all of your points together and establishes a final assessment of your ethical dilemma, supported by the points you made in your paper.

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    About the Author

    Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.

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