Life doesn’t have wrong choices. In general, a choice is both right and wrong at the same time. Each person has a right for choice, and this choice will be right to only this person. However, what is crucial for choice making is what does a person base his choice on, what moves a person make such choice? According to the definition, ethics is “...well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one's ethical standards.” (Velasquez et al., 2010). Ethics has a very thin line in choice making, and even wishing all the best in a world can have unfortunate consequences.
Recently, a friend of mine has been having trouble with a course. No matter how hard she tried, she always failed. The only way to pass the course was to get a maximal grade on the final exam. On the exam day, I have noticed that my friend was behaving rather awkwardly and refused to talk to anyone. When the exam had begun I have noticed that my friend is cheating on the test. It seemed as two different people were arguing inside of me regarding what should be done. While analyzing the situation, I came up with a few solutions, which could solve the problem: tell on my friend; ask her not to cheat; let her cheat, but ask her to confess to the teacher later on; and let the fate decide and do nothing.
At first, I was feeling empathy for my friend, as she either might have get caught or fail the course. But then, I realized how unfair it was regarding the other students who also want to get a good grade. At the end, I have decided to stand by and make an expression that I did not notice this situation. I did this for two reasons. First, it was going about my friend, and she needed help. Second, if it should have happened, the teacher would have noticed her cheating on the test, but he did not. Therefore, at the end, the result was beneficial for everybody, was it?
When I found out that my friend was cheating, millions of thoughts were flying in my mind. Of course, if she would have been a common student, the ethical thing would have been to use tell on her, thus, subdue to the deontological approach, which emphasizes following the rules no matter what (Hursthouse, 2012). Such decision would have equalized the chances of everyone on the test and get the grade one deserves. It would also have been an honest thing for me to do, as a student of integrity and responsible as well. Also, telling on a person who cheats exposes the teacher to the problem, which should be dealt with. Teachers should be raising awareness about the lack of knowledge by students, or students’ incorrect choice of type of learning, and creation of extra curriculum activities, or tutoring classes for this subject.
On the other side, this was a person, whom I personally knew, which made my choice more difficult. In addition, knowing this student, only a desperate case could have caused her decision to cheat on an exam. Therefore, helping a person in trouble was my personal debt. Also, knowing that the student has been trying for so long to study well, or get good grades, but still lacking according results, was the last straw in my decision making.
I have decided to keep silent and do nothing. My choice was, in a way, a rescue squad for her to pass the course and even get a good grade in it. I based my choice on virtue ethics, which assumes that the ultimate purpose is to underline the moral purpose of an action (Hursthouse, 2012). Meaning, one has to balance the cause and effect of every choice and pursue the one that has the best outcome from the situation.
After analyzing the whole situation, I have balanced all pros and cons and subjectively decided that the most good would come out of inactions. My silence not only saved a person from public humiliation, decreasing authority in front of a member of a faculty and other students, and my personal reputation as a friend, but also let her pursue her decision, pass the course, save her face and also, which is most important, our friendship.
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