This past Sunday, I was in Elders quorum and I discovered that my stake was having an event for everyone to attend the temple on a Tuesday night. As I heard the announcement, I remembered from my weekly planning that I had many school assignments and papers that needed to be completed and a midterm to study for. To make preparations, the person that was giving the announcements then asked for a raise of hands of all those that would be able to attend. The choice of attending the temple, which I thought I would postpone until that Tuesday night suddenly became an ethical dilemma for which I had to make a quick decision.
Many ideas were rushing through my head such as studying to get good grades or taking some time out of my day to give service in the temple. After my quick thought process, I raised my hand and volunteered to attend the temple for that Tuesday night. I am beyond grateful that I made that decision to attend the temple and that everything worked out. I will give the following analysis that will dissect my ethical dilemma using the (a) “Eight Steps to Sound Ethical Making in Business,” found in Managing Business Ethics, (b) and ethical frameworks. Step One: Gather the Facts
As I heard the announcement during Elders quorum, the first thing I did was gather facts from my iPhone calendar. I saw that I had already made some commitments and planned some assignments for that Monday and Tuesday. I was starting to think to myself that attending the temple might not be possible for that night with so much to do. However, I began to feel uncomfortable remembering that it had been over a month since the last time I had attended the temple. Step Two: Define the Ethical Issues As I look back on the ethical dilemma, I believe there were four ethical issues or values that were at play.
The values being (1st) providing service for the dead in the temple; (2nd) perusing excellence in my education so that I can use knowledge to benefit others; (3rd) offering loyalty to my family for helping me obtain an education; and (4th) offering loyalty and support to others in their church callings. Step Three: Identify the Affected Parties (The Stakeholders) Looking back at the moment, the only stakeholder that I was thinking about was myself. In reality, all the stakeholders involved included me; my parents, counting on me to perform well; and the dead, for whom I would be doing ordinances.
I would also identify some of my friends in the ward as stakeholders because my decision would be influential in convincing them to attend the temple. Step Four: Identify the Consequences In the moment, the only consequence that came to my mind was the terrible grade I would get on my papers and midterm if I did not put in the time. Thinking about alternative consequences afterward, I realized that if I had not gone to the temple then some soul on the other side of the veil would not have had the opportunity to progress in their eternal salvation.
I was quick to perceive consequences that would affect myself but failed to identify how my consequences would affect others. Step Five: Identify the Obligations The first obligation that I debated was fulfilling my calling to the church, which involves offering service. Also, my obligation to support those that put forth the effort to plan the temple night. The last obligation that I thought of was to my family. Since my parents have helped me pay for some college in the past, I feel obligated to perform well in my schooling to show them my appreciation.
Step Six: Consider Your Character and Integrity Even though studying and doing your homework is not necessarily bad, I believe there are good and better choices that we can make in our lives, which can be deterministic factors of our character. Even though I feel that I made the right decision, I have begun to think about how I want people to remember me. I have decided that I want people to remember me as a person that is concerned about others and gives service rather than being a person entirely consumed by his studies.
Step Seven: Think Creatively about Potential Actions I felt what convinced me to attend the temple was an alternative option, which would allow me to satisfy my dilemma. I decided that if I wanted to attend the temple I could go to bed and wake up earlier in the morning to take advantage of my time to study. I also took more time that Sunday to plan my day out to the hour to make sure that I would get everything done on time. What I did took some more work and sacrifice, but it also provided me the opportunity to go to the temple with my stake.
Step Eight: Check Your Gut In many of the ethical dilemmas that we encounter, we may not have much time do a full analysis. I wanted to go to the temple because in my gut it seemed like it was the right thing to do. I can sometimes find myself, however, rationalizing myself out of what my gut is telling me. I have decided the best thing to do in those situations is to us my gut as a check. If my gut confirms my thoughts, then it is the right decision, but if my gut goes against my thoughts then maybe I need some additional meditation before deciding.
The previous eight steps can be used almost any time when trying to make the right choice in an ethical dilemma. In addition, my personal dilemma can also be examined by using the utilitarian, deontological, and virtue ethics frameworks. FRAMEWORK: UTILITARIAN The utilitarian framework originates from John Stuart Mill and can also be known as the consequentialist framework. These frameworks can be identified by these two names because they both focus on the final consequences of a decision as well as maximizing the utility (benefits) to society.
When I was placed in an ethical dilemma, the utilitarian framework involved identifying all the stakeholders that would be affected. The difficulty, however, was for me to buying time to put forth a greater effort into doing an in-depth analysis. When using the Utilitarian framework, I discovered that my decisions can heavily be altered by the amount of in-depth analysis that I use to identify all the stakeholders and possible future outcomes. In the moment of my ethical dilemma, I performed only a surface-level analysis of the Utilitarian framework.
The only stakeholder that I considered was myself. I felt convinced that studying and doing homework would provide the most benefit for my future success. If I would have put more time and effort into an in-depth analysis using the Utilitarian framework, however, I believe I would have reasoned that going to the temple was a better choice. Going more in-depth, I failed to consider other stakeholders such as my friends. I realized that my choice to attend the temple influenced my friends, which would potentially save more souls.
I would have then reasoned that saving souls provides more benefit to others than compared to only helping myself, all viewed from an eternal perspective. As I was encountering my ethical dilemma, I would say that I partially used the utilitarian framework, but my final decision was trumped by using the deontology and virtue ethics framework. FRAMEWORK: DEONTOLOGY The deontology framework, originating from Immanuel Kant, had a great impact on my decision to attend the temple in my ethical dilemma. The deontology framework supposes that it is my duty to arrive at moral conclusions and do what is right no matter what the cost is of doing it.
The framework also involves prioritizing values and deciding upon which moral principles I will abide by. The best way I can know if a principle or decision is moral is by universalizing it and supposing that everyone would make my same exact decision. If the decision is applied on a global scale were to produce a positive outcome, then that decision or principle would be right for me to follow. Before I had faced my ethical dilemma in Elders quorum, I had created a code of ethics that prioritizes and outlines the values that I desire to abide by.
At the beginning of my prioritized list, I included “Charity” which involves giving of my time and service to uplift and comfort those that are around me. Lower on my list I had also included “Knowledge” which involves seeking for knowledge and doing my best to perform well in my studies. Seeking charity and knowledge are both values that I find essential for one to obtain, but according to the deontological framework, I found it better to seek charity. Since my values of charity and service were already prioritized it made it easier for me to decide to go to the temple.
Making that decision required some sacrifice over doing homework, but I knew I was making the right decision according to the deontological framework. FRAMEWORK: VIRTUE ETHICS The main reason I chose to go to the temple in my ethical dilemma is because of the virtue ethics framework. While the Utilitarian and Deontological frameworks focus on the choice I made, the virtue ethics frame focuses more on my integrity of the moral character. I believe that in order to use the virtue ethics framework, I need to have in mind the person I want to become and look to people that will hold me to a high virtuous standard.
Over time, I came to the decision that I wanted to be a person that is willing to reach out to others in any time of need and a man of virtue. I believe that this influence came from the example of many church leaders and my family who inspire me to strive for a virtuous character. When I asked if I would be willing to go to the temple, I thought about how attending the temple would help me in the process of developing my moral character and becoming more like Christ. As I reflect upon the moment now, I also think of what my parents would have wanted me to do.
Even though homework is important, I’m sure they would prefer that I attend the temple to develop my character and become a better person. That was the final thought that made me make the choice to attend the temple. CONCLUSION: REFLECTION After analyzing my ethical dilemma with the eight steps and ethical frameworks, I see the value that can be obtained from walking through these processes. I feel inspired to continue and use these tools in my daily decisions so that I can continue to make wiser and more ethical decisions.
I find that not only can these tools be used for school, but also in other settings with friends, church, and business. While doing my analysis, I felt that the most important thing I could do in any situation is buy time. If I can manage to buy myself time, then I can think about my values and choices more tactfully to make ensure that I make the right decision. My concern for the future, however, is for the moments in which I cannot buy time. I believe that repeatedly thinking about practicing this exercise will help my decisions become engraved in muscle memory in order to make quicker decisions.
Another important idea that came to my mind while doing an analysis was always looking for an alternative solution to an ethical dilemma. When I was asked whether I would be able to attend the temple or not, only two ideas came to my mind. I failed to see the alternative solution such as waking up earlier and rescheduling my week. In the future, I believe it will be helpful if I practice looking for alternate solutions and asking for options from others for the right response. If I do this then I know that I will be ready and not panic when another ethical dilemma occurs.
Overall, I am glad that I made the decision to attend the temple with my Stake. After I attended the temple, I knew I had made the right decision because I felt happier inside. Looking forward, I feel that the virtue ethics framework will have the most influence on the choices I make, but I also believe the other frameworks will be important as well. I’m grateful for the knowledge that I have obtained and I am excited to put this exercise into practice in my future. If I can do this, I know that I will be on the path to becoming a more ethical and well-developed person.