You are on page 1of 3

Personal and Corporate Ethics


End term Assignment


4 5 2 1 1 9 9 1 9 8

Ethics are the moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity.
Reflecting back on my life, I would bring about a situation of ethical dilemma which was during
my under-graduation at IITK where I headed the Dance Club as the Club Coordinator. A team of
20 members had to be selected, after a lot of auditioning, for two dance competitions, let them
be competition A and B. Competition A required all the 20 members while B required just 12 out
of those 20 members. Everyone wanted to be in the team for Competition B because it was more
difficult, important and respectable and would gain a lot of visibility in the campus. Our club had
a selection rule that the best dancers be in that team, but there was also a ‘moral rule’ that only
the most dedicated and hardworking dancers, who had to give in extra efforts through practice
hours, be in that team and I being the Club-Coordinator, had the power to expel anyone who
didn’t meet standards. Gradually the teams for both the competitions were selected and
practices were in full swing.

Once, while the competition was drawing in close and practices were at peak , one of the team
member (say X) who was in team for competition B, bunked the practice session for an entire
day. Since the competition was just 4 days away, bunking practices for an entire day would mean
entire loss to the team and potential of losing the competition. Upon finding out the reasons for
X’s bunking, we found out that there was no emergency situation and he just did it for fun, but
upon confrontation he continually denied that he had done any wrong. All the team members
were furious about this and they felt X should not be in the team because of his lack of sincerity
and dedication (also based on some small incidents he did earlier). Now, according to the club’s
rule, it was my responsibility to expel him, since he didn’t meet the standards and was not
deserving. But again, X was one of the best dancers in the entire team, so expelling him from
competition B would indeed dampen our chances of winning the competition for which everyone
had been working hard for months. Another important factor which made this issue personal to
me was that X was one of my favorite junior and he constantly looked upon me as a personal
mentor, valuing me a lot. So expelling him would be kind betraying him, though not on a
professional level but on a personal level.

Before jumping to how I responded to the situation, I would like to take a moment to relate to
what we have been taught in the class to my role in the Club. We had studied about the five
main principles of ethics: Welfare, Liberty, Law, Virtue and Duty. ‘Welfare’ for the club would
mean I would take decisions based on what is good for the club, for the members and see the
club’s goals are met. ‘Liberty’ would indicate my freedom of taking decisions in club. ‘Law’ here
would be the rules and regulations of the club, on how it should be functioned. ‘Virtue’ would
define my moral values as well as that of the team members towards the club and ‘Duty’ would
be our moral duties towards the club and its activities. The moral dilemma I faced in my situation
described above is whether I act upon the values of Law, Virtue and Duty towards the club and
expel him or whether I take a Utilitarian step of forgiving him for his mistake and act upon the
values of Welfare and Liberty, because keeping him would benefit the team for the competition.

I finally decided to take the tough decision of expelling him from the team for competition B and
keep him just in the main team of 20 members. I considered this option because I thought
accepting a utilitarian view of the overall welfare of not expelling X would be morally wrong, as
my duty as a leader and towards other team members who work hard to earn a position. Had
not I expelled the team member, there would have been a resentment among others and maybe
fights or further misuse of the rule I created. I preferred one utilitarian view over the other, the
former being the long run benefit of the group over the short run pleasure, which upon
connecting on what we were taught in class, coincides with the Kant’s theory of pleasure and
pain. I had ensured that everyone in the group understands the motive of my actions because
what matters is doing the right thing because it is right and not for some ulterior motive (here,
winning the competition). By my action I had made sure that this bunking of practice sessions
was not followed, a kind of universal law in the club to be followed, which I relate to the Kant’s
Categorical Imperative Theory as we cannot base the moral law on any particular interests,
purposes, or ends, because it would be only relative to that person whose ends they were.
In the lectures, we were taught about the exciting topic of “Finesse” and how it has been
implemented in the mythological past and in recent times. Whenever a person faces any
challenging issue, he/she always has four options to choose from: Fight, Flight, Just-do-it or
Finesse. Regarding to my actions I undertook in my above instance, I believe my action, the
punishment of expelling, somehow had finessed other team members to not bunk practices in
future while keeping the rules and moral standards of the club intact. Though I was unware of
this concept back then, but now upon analyzing back the situation I realized that had I taken a
different decision, maybe our team would have secured a slightly better position but my moral
values would have been questioned to be unethical and maybe more such cases of bunks would
have raised through protests and resentments. I still believe I made the right decision and would
still make the same decision today if I face one in my life ahead.

That incident made me realize my own values and made dive deeper into retrospecting the
virtues I behold. I believe myself to be a strongly dedicated person towards any cause, duty,
passion and strong follower of the moral standards expected from me, be it from a position of a
leader, a team member, a colleague or just a friend. A part of me always feels this value to be
inculcated within me by parents, who always taught me to do the right thing and be a good
human being first. But again I have also faced situations in life ahead, where I couldn’t be morally
correct and had to bend some rules so that other people can benefit, who are in dire need of. I
guess not everyone is perfect and being morally correct depends strongly on the situation in
hand, on our affordability to compromise on our moral values and I, myself also, am a part of this
imperfectly moral-abiding world.