Ethical Dilemma Examples

Ethical Dilemma

An ethical dilemma is an internal conflict. The conflict is between two different moral imperatives-or two different courses of action that both seem right. Obeying one means committing a transgression in regards to the other. Sometimes, however, an ethical dilemma might involve choosing between "right" and "wrong," but choosing the "wrong" path could have a desirable outcome.

Examples of Ethical Dilemma:

Examples of Ethical Dilemma in Literature

In Julius Caesar, by Shakespeare, Brutus faces an ethical dilemma. He is persuaded to participate in the plot to murder Caesar because he believes that it will be the best thing in the long run for Rome:


In Hamlet, Hamlet faces an ethical dilemma. He believes that his uncle murdered his father to marry his mother, and he sees his father's ghost, which urges him to murder his uncle.


In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout relates the story of her father choosing to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, in spite of the fact that he must go against the views of the townspeople to do so.


In Silas Marner, Godfrey faces an ethical dilemma related to his secret marriage to an opium addict. If he reveals the secret marriage, he will lose his real love, Nancy. If he keeps it a secret, his brother maintains power over him.


In the Bible, Abraham surely faced an ethical dilemma when God told him to sacrifice his child, Isaac. Abraham had to choose between obeying his God and adhering to his faith or sacrificing his son. He chose to obey God, but God stopped him from killing Isaac at the last moment.

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