1. Provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide an illustrative example for the term "ethical dilemma" (minimum 100 words, excluding the definition)


If any agent is in any moral dilemma, then that agent ought to adopt each of two alternatives but cannot adopt both.(Sinnott-Armstrong)


A Moral or Ethical dilemma is a situation where there are multiple ways of acting, all with their own ethical and moral strong points, but only one can be done.  This often leads to people feeling that they are not doing all that they could have done because the other options for the situation have to be abandoned, and usually some hurt feelings occur because of this.  As a leader, we are put in this situation all the time.


As an example, a person breaks the rules of an organization but does it with very good reasoning behind it (e.g. they felt a moral obligation to do it).  When it comes to the leadership, and all the facts are laid out, it comes down to the leaders agreeing with what the person did, but also agreeing it was in direct conflict of the rules.  The leaders are now in an ethical dilemma as they want to do one thing (forgive the person and carry on), but they also have the obligation to enforce the rules.  What do they do as both are morally acceptable to the leaders?  It is situations like this that make leadership a difficult, and often lonely job.


  1. Identify, list and briefly explain the steps to a "Problem Solving Process." Process steps may vary in style depending on student preference and source. (minimum 100 words each step; citation of source for process required)
  1. Define and Identify the Problem
  2. Analyze the Problem
  3. Identifying Possible Solutions
  4. Selecting the Best Solutions
  5. Evaluating Solutions
  6. Develop an Action Plan
  7. Implement the Solution (Problem Solving)


The problem solving process can be varied, and often is between 6 and 8 steps based off of my survey of the results from a Google search depending on how the steps are combined or split out.  Overall, the above appears to be a good generalization of the various methods.


  1. Define and Identify the Problem

This is the first step of all problem solving.  What is the problem that needs to be solved?  It is important that one defines the problem so that proper analysis of the problem and potential results can be done, and be valid.  It is at this stage that you narrow down the problem.  The larger that you define it, the more difficult the analysis and development of plans will become.  Often it is best to take a large complicated problem and break it down into smaller ones that are easier to solve, and when that is done for all the parts, the larger problem can then be defined with the solutions for the individual parts being added in, and assuming that nothing conflicts, combined as a total solution or modified to remove conflicts.


  1. Analyze the Problem

This is the step where you look in more detail at what the problem is.  Here you try to find all the causes of the problem.  These causes can be apparent, or they could be more complicated and some digging into the circumstances around it is required to get at the root causes of the problem.  It is important that you look at the problem from all angles and view points.  Very often looking at a problem from a different perspective will help you understand why it is a problem, and potentially point you to possible solutions.  Overall though, this is the stage where you are doing fact finding and you want to be as thorough as possible.


  1. Identifying Possible Solutions

This is better known as brainstorming.  When identifying possible solutions, the idea is to try to find any and all possible solutions to the problem.  This should be an exhaustive list of all possibilities.  By the nature of the process, some of the solutions will be obviously horrible ideas that are morally reprehensible.  Other solutions will be moral ideals.  The rest will fall somewhere in the middle, and these are the likely solutions that will be deiced on.  The goal of this step though is to get as many solutions as possible that range the whole breadth of possibilities without worrying about what the likely consequences of the solution may be.


  1. Selecting the Best Solutions

It is at this point that you start weeding out the solutions.  Here is where you generally remove the extreme possibilities.  These are the morally reprehensible solutions that you identified before, and usually also many of the highly moral ones too.  You also start to look at the consequences of the solutions too.  If the consequences will cause more problems than they are solving, or are not morally acceptable, then you should remove the solution.  By the end of this step, all the potential solutions from step c should have been examined and a couple of the best solutions should be passed on to the next step.


  1. Evaluating Solutions

Very often this step is combined with step d.  This step though is for deeper evaluation than was done in step d.  As you have now limited the solutions to a couple, you can easily focus your time on exploring all the pros and cons of the solution.  Often this step comes with the suggestion of writing out what all the pros and cons of the solution are.  You then take the lists for each solution and compare them.  The pros/cons can also be weighted based on moral values.  Usually the one with the best pro/con ratio will be the solution that is chosen to act on. In the event that this problem is only part of a larger problem, these solutions should be evaluated with the solutions for all the other subsets of the larger problem, and tweaked to choose the best solution overall.


  1. Develop an Action Plan

Now that a solution has been found to the problem, one has to determine how to implement it, or the action plan.  The action plan will list all the steps needed to implement the solution, starting from where things stand at the moment and going through to the end.  It is best to think of all the steps that are involved, and try to plan for any issues that may arise and create contingency plans if those issues do arise.  The more detailed the plan and the more thorough an analysis of the potential issues and solutions, the easier it will be to implement it in the next step.


  1. Implement the Solution

Implementing the solution is where you take the plan that was developed in step f and act on it.  If one is lucky, the plan will work as expected.  If problems arise, the time spent on developing contingency plans will be realized as time well spent.  By the time the plan is completed, the problem should be solved.  Part of this step that is sometimes separated out is the evaluation of the solution after it's been implemented.  It is important that once all is done that you look back at what was done.  Did it work as expected? Did the problem actually get solved?  Is there a new problem as a result of the solution?  This evaluation is both educational adding to your personal knowledge-base, but also helps find new problems, hopefully before they become a big issue.


  1. Provide the following information for each of the situations described below.
    1. Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)
    2. Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)
    3. Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an "ethical dilemma?" Why or why not? (100 words minimum)
  • Situation 1

It is a long-standing tradition within your Grove to pass the Waters of Life using a single vessel for high day celebrations. Your group has always been small and the group at large prefers alcoholic Waters of Life, which is the plan for this high day event. Prior to the beginning the ritual pre-briefing you become aware that several new individuals are in attendance. One of these individuals discusses with a member of your Grove that they learned of your event from a poster in a local Unitarian Universalist Congregation where they attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. What do you do?

  1. The issue that is presented here is an issue of grove tradition vs personal addictions. There are many possible resolutions to this with the best solutions being talking to the individual and telling them they can “kiss the horn” or pouring a libation instead of drinking the alcohol, providing one “horn” with non-alcoholic beverage, or providing a second “horn” that contains a non-alcoholic beverage (making the assumption that a second horn and a non-alcoholic beverage is available).  To me, the latter one is the best option as it places the responsibility of what one drinks on the person themselves, and allows everyone to choose the beverage of choice.
  2. My personal ethics are big on personal responsibility.  Everyone has to take responsibility for their actions.  In this case it started with the person explaining that they have an issue with drinking alcohol.  It is also the Grove's responsibility to be as accommodating as possible.  As there are members in attendance that want alcohol, and members that can't drink alcohol, providing both allows the individual to choose in the drink that is best for themselves.  I do not believe that it is the Grove's responsibility to make sure that the person does not drink the alcohol, but the grove is responsible for providing an alternative, especially when it comes to an alcoholic or someone not of age to consume alcohol.
  3. This is not an ethical dilemma to me at all.  My ethics say that individuals need to take personal responsibility for their lives and their actions.  What this is instead is a hospitality issue.  A Grove has a responsibility to be hospitable to all those in attendance, not just one person.  If the Grove only had one vessel or no non-alcoholic beverages, then the grove tradition would be followed with the alcoholic being given the option to “kiss the horn” or pour a libation.  It would be inhospitable to the majority of the people present to not provide the alcohol.
  • Situation 2

While meeting with a couple to plan a hand-fasting ritual you have been asked to facilitate, you notice one of the partners continually makes all of the decisions concerning the ceremony and refuses to let his/her partner participate in the discussion. When you encourage the silent partner to participate the other individual becomes obviously agitated. You notice several bruises on the silent partner legs and arms and he/she appears afraid to express any thoughts and ideas. Following the discussion, you receive a phone call from the silent partner apologizing for the conduct of his/her partner. The wedding is a month away and the couple has written an oath for the ceremony that professes a desire for a healthy relationship and equal partnership. What do you do?

  1. This situation is showing signs of possible abuse.  There are many possible ways to approach this.  One would be direct confrontation of the abusive individual about the abuse.  Another option would be to try to work with the abused partner to try to get them the help they need.  The best long-term solution would be helping the abused partner.  I would make up some excuse to talk to each partner individually with the auspices of something related to the ceremony, and make it a per-requisite of me performing the ceremony.  I would then talk to the abused individual, make sure that what I saw is reality, and do everything I could to make them aware of what is happening, and get them the help that they need.  Assuming I confirmed the abuse, and got the person to the help they need, confronting the other partner could also be an option, but one that could potentially put myself in harms way.  Ultimately though, I could not ethically perform the ceremony.
  2. My ethics again focus on personal responsibility, and also helping those that are in need.  Abusive relationships are not easy to deal with.  Often the abused partner makes excuses for why they are being abused, usually saying that they are at fault, not the abuser.  My ethics say that I should first verify the abuse, and then do what I can to convince the abused to get the help they need, be it sending them to the police or some place that deals in abused partners.  If they don't accept the help, there really is nothing I can do unless I witness the abuse which I could then report to the police.  I can't support an unhealthy, one-sided relationship though, so i would not be ethically comfortable with performing a wedding ceremony.
  3. This does present an ethical dilemma that has to be resolved. The solution I described above would require me to lie to one partner for the benefit of the other.  In this case though, helping out the abused partner and hopefully getting them out of the abusive relationship, has a much greater benefit to everyone than performing the ceremony.  Being a realist though, it is not highly likely that the abused partner would be easily convinced to give up the relationship and get the help.  I would hope that my conversation with them though would promote them gaining self awareness about the situation, and eventually get the help they need.  In such cases though, I could not officiate a wedding for what I feel is an unhealthy relationship, especially when it involved an oath professing a desire  for a healthy relationship and equal partnership when that would be an obvious lie.
  • Situation 3

You are facilitating a children's activity concerning the 9 virtues and the Kindred for your Grove. A ten-year old child approaches you during the activity and says, "Can I tell you a secret?" You let the child talk and he tells you that his stepmother, who is an active member of your Grove, doesn't follow the virtues or care about the Kindred. You ask him why he believes this and he tells you, "Because if she did she wouldn't hurt me!" Once more you ask the child what he means and he shows you a horseshoe-shaped belt mark on his back and says, "Don't tell anyone." The father and stepmother are in the next room at an adult workshop. What do you do?

  1. This is a difficult situation as it involves potential abuse by a child.  The first thing I would do is ask the child for more information such as why the mother did that, and also take an assessment of how the family has been behaving in public.  In New York State, Clergy are not listed among the mandated reporters (mandated reporters).  This means that I am not required by law to report suspected child abuse.  My ethics though tell me to be on the side of caution, and work for the well being of the child.    As a result, I would make sure that the child is under good care and then call the police and do what they told me to do, knowing full well that this will probably ruin the grove event, and likely would ruin any friendship or trust I had with that family.
  2. My ethics more than anything else predominate this question.  There are very few things I will not tolerate.  Abuse of children is one of them.  It is one thing for consenting adults to be in abusive relationships, and as I described in situation 2, I would do what I could to convince the abused partner to get out and get the help they need.  Children though do not have this option.  This is why there are mandated reporting laws throughout the country.  While I may not currently be a mandated reporter, I will still report abuse to protect the children.
  3. To me, this is not an ethical dilemma.  I could see how some would consider it one though because it's making an accusation with little proof, and causing a lot of drama that will have a lasting effect.  All of the effects of this would be long lasting, and potentially give me a bad reputation, especially if the child was lying.  It is not an ethical dilemma for me though because the well being of children is more important to me than any of the results of reporting.  I would rather err on the side of the child and be wrong, than not say anything and let abuse continue.  As I said above though, I would ask more information of the child to find out what actually happened.  I do feel though that even if it was a “spanking”, since it was a belt buckle shaped bruise, that is unacceptable, but if it was just a spanking, that is a parent's prerogative.
  • Situation 4

A young woman from your local Neo-Pagan community contacts you and expresses a desire to attend your Grove's upcoming high day; however, she explains that she is in a wheel chair and has an uncontrolled seizure disorder. Another local Neo-Pagan group had explained to this individual that they were unable to accommodate her needs at this time. The young woman plans to bring her personal care attendant with her, but the attendant is opposed to Neo-Pagan beliefs and does not want to actually participate in the service and plans to wait outside the ritual area. Your regular outside ritual space is not readily handicap accessible and the ritual is planned for this outdoor space. What do you do?

  1. The problem that is faced here is a matter of hospitality.  What I would do is talk to the woman and her care attendant and find out what exactly her limitations are and also explain what the site is like.  Just doing this may result in a solution being obvious. The site may not be handicap accessible for someone under their own power (e.g. stairs), but it may be possible with people around to help lift the chair.  After I gathered all the information, I would assess whether or not it will be possible to get the person into the site or not.  My goal would to be find a solution that would allow them to get into that ritual space, and if that is not possible for that ritual, I would work on it for future rituals.  More importantly though, I would look for a permanent solution to make the site handicap accessible, or find an alternative site.  As for the attendant, they are more than welcomed to join, but they would not be required to, as long as we could find them in case of an emergency.
  2. My ethics basically state that I am to be as hospitable as possible. This means that I wouldn't hold rituals in poorly accessible locations to start off with, so this situation should never occur in the first place.  In the unlikely event that this did happen, my ethics state that I need to do all that I can reasonably do to get everyone that wants to attend the ritual to the ritual, or provide an alternative.  I wouldn't change the site though because the last minute notice of changes of site would inconvenience more people overall.  If I had more advanced notice (it's worded to sound like I am getting this notice 6 weeks or less from the ritual) I would work on getting a new site.
  3. This is also not an ethical dilemma for me.  This a matter of hospitality.   To me, we should be doing everything we can to accommodate differently abled people.  That is just common sense and good hospitality, not ethics.  The only potentially dilemma here deals with telling the one person they can't make it, or telling everyone else that the site is being changed at the last minute.  Here, my understanding of hospitality is to try to please everyone, but you do not need to bend over backwards to please everyone, especially on short notice, but the next ritual, we will do all we can to accommodate, including changing sites if necessary.  Again, this should never be a situation as alternatives should always be presented for differently abled people, especially when it comes to regular ritual locations.


  1. “SEVEN STEPS TO PROBLEM SOLVING.” University of Pittsburgh. n.d. Web. 23 June 2013. <http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.html>
  2. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. "Moral Dilemas and 'Ought and Ought Not'." Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17.1 (198): 127-140. Print.
  3. “Summary Guide for MANDATED REPORTERS in New York State.”  Office of Children and Family Services. August 2011. Web. 23 June 2013. <http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/publications/Pub1159text.asp.&gt;