2.5: Ethical Dilemmas


Every professional has to make decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. Sometimes these are straightforward; sometimes it is harder to find the answers about what is/are the right thing(s) to do in a given situation.

Virtue ethics suggests that it is through the development of practical wisdom that we become ‘better’ at making the right decision when faced with a dilemma. We learn which virtue to prioritise in any given situation. In this section, you are asked to think about some examples of dilemmas that teachers may face in their working lives.

Below are 5 dilemmas presented either as an animated film, or as text. Watch/read each dilemma which describe a situation that you may face in teaching.

In small groups, or working on your own, carefully consider each dilemma. Imagine yourself to be in the situation described and answer the following questions:

K. Tirri and J. Husu- This paper discusses ethical dilemmas in early childhood education as identified by kindergarten and elementary school teachers (n = 26). Ethical dilemmas are investigated in the theoretical framework of virtue epistemology.  The empirical findings present conflicts between teachers and parents, collegial conflicts between teachers, and inter-institutional conflicts in the community.

J. J. Teven and J. C. McCroskey- The research reported relates to the construct of “perceived caring” in the instructional context which is believed to be related to the classical construct of “goodwill” in Aristotelian rhetorical theory as well as to more contemporary social scientific views of “intent toward receiver “in conceptualizations of source credibility.