Making The Right Decisions When It Comes To Everyday Moral Issues

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated March 27, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You may find yourself in everyday scenarios having to tackle various moral issues. Do you help a stranger in distress or walk away so you can make it to your meeting on time? This is the core of a moral dilemma, a moment where your principles and values steer your actions and push you to make a choice.

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Life can mold our moral compass, which is often affected by upbringing, social environments, and personal experiences. While our beliefs, values, and principles may serve as guiding stars in our moral universe, they are not static. However, there are some strategies that can help us make the right decisions when it comes to moral issues. 

What is ethics?

Ethics, sometimes called moral philosophy, is like a map for understanding right and wrong. It usually involves examining the principles and values governing human behavior and decision-making. Ethics seeks to answer questions like, “How should we live?” or “What is the best way to go about making moral choices?” In this context, ethics delves into concepts such as rights, responsibilities, and the importance of living an ethical life.

The ethical ideas we hold are heavily influenced by our moral values. These values can come from our own experiences, culture, or religious teachings, to name a few. Morality is about understanding what's right and wrong–especially in how we behave–and helping us get along in groups or societies. Just like ethical ideas, what's considered moral can change over time and differ from place to place.

When it comes to moral issues, ethics can serve as a guide for working through various dilemmas. Our ethical beliefs may allow us to judge our actions and the actions of others based on moral values and rules. Knowing about ethics may help us manage tough situations that need moral decision-making, grow as individuals, and create healthier societies.

Examples of moral issues

Extramarital affairs, premarital sex, embryonic stem cell research, the death penalty, and abortion are a few examples of moral issues. Depending on a person’s beliefs and values, these topics can lead to conflicting opinions and tough decisions.

Extramarital affairs and premarital sex are matters of personal choice and commitment that reflect the values held by individuals in relationships. Many people may see extramarital relations as unacceptable, while people who are polyamorous may encourage relations between two or more people who are not married. Similarly, opinions on premarital sex may vary based on cultural, religious, or personal views.

Embryonic stem cell research has been a fiercely debated issue due to the potential benefits and ethical concerns surrounding the use of human embryos. Advocates often argue that this research can help advance medical knowledge and potentially find cures for various diseases. In contrast, opponents may say that the process involves the destruction of human life in its earliest stages and raises fundamental ethical questions.

The death penalty and abortion are two other topics that have polarized society. The death penalty raises questions about the right to take life as a form of punishment, while abortion involves an individual's right to choose and the morality of ending a pregnancy. In each case, the moral stances of individuals and society often differ, leading to conflicted views on these topics.

Other potential moral issues may include:

  • Euthanasia
  • Animal rights and testing
  • Access to certain medical procedures
  • Immigration and refugee policies
  • Censorship and the freedom of speech
  • Conscientious objection in matters such as military service

Moral issues come in all shapes and sizes, often sparking deep conversations about what's right and wrong and how these issues impact society. We often need to weigh personal values, societal norms, and cultural differences to tackle these challenges.

Applying the right mindset to moral issues

When we're faced with moral issues, we may wish to keep an open mind and understand the facts. Knowing what's true can help us develop morally acceptable solutions and avoid making decisions based on bias or misinformation. We may have to recognize that others have different beliefs regarding what is considered morally wrong or right. Additionally, we can respect these differences to have constructive discussions.

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If we want to have meaningful talks about moral issues, we can think about the different views of others and examine our own moral behaviors and values. Reflecting on our own beliefs and striving to be consistent in our moral choices may help us better understand complex moral situations. 

Developing empathy, or understanding and sharing another person's feelings, may help us consider how our choices might impact others. Weighing the potential outcomes of our actions and exercising empathy may be helpful in making ethical decisions. This may help pave the way for a kinder, more inclusive society where everyone feels seen and heard.

Practicing ethical decision-making in everyday life

Ethical decision-making processes may allow us to manage the moral questions we encounter in different areas of life, such as marriage, social policies, or law. As a result, we may be able to make choices that fit with our personal beliefs and consider the impact our actions could have. Here's a simple step-by-step guide that may help you use ethical decision-making in your day-to-day life.

Step 1: Recognize the ethical dilemma

The first step is to identify when there's a moral choice to be made. This could come up in everyday situations or when you are addressing public opinions, laws, or social rules. Once you realize there's an ethical issue, you can start to think about your values and the possible outcomes of your decision.

Step 2: Gather information

The next step is to understand all the facts and details around the ethical issue. This means thinking about different viewpoints, your own feelings, what society generally thinks, and how your decision might affect others. If you are dealing with a situation concerning the law or social policies, try to understand the relevant rules, laws, ordinances, and statutes.

Step 3: Evaluate alternatives

Think about all the different actions you could take and the ethical consequences of each one. Look at the pros and cons of each option and think about how each one fits with your values. Additionally, consider how each potential action might impact others.

Step 4: Make a decision

After you've looked at all your options, consider choosing the one that fits best with your values and seems to have the best ethical outcome. Keep in mind that ethical dilemmas may not always have a clear-cut solution; sometimes, a compromise or trade-off must be made.

Step 5: Reflect on the decision and learn

After making the decision, reflect on its ethical implications and consequences. Look at what happened and think about what you can learn for next time. Doing this may help you get better at making ethical decisions.

Following these steps may help you make well-thought-out, ethical decisions in everyday life. As a result, you may be able to improve how you make choices that match your personal beliefs and are considerate of others.

Using online therapy for support

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Do you need guidance on moral issues relevant to your life?

Through virtual platforms, licensed professionals can often use their knowledge and expertise to guide clients in making morally sound decisions. Online therapy sessions may provide convenient access to a therapist, regardless of your location.

Recent research has indicated that online therapy can be just as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy. One study found that online therapy was similarly effective to in-person therapy for psychological support and addressing various mental health conditions. 

Takeaway

Taking on moral issues can be challenging and often involves complicated situations. Knowing about the different elements of moral decision-making may help us make the right decisions.

We may consider acting responsibly and honestly, making sure our actions meet ethical standards and contribute positively to the lives of others. When confronting moral dilemmas, we will usually balance the pros and cons. This means we may need to think about what could happen as a result of our actions and how this might affect everyone involved, including our communities and society. If we think about fairness, respect people's rights, and honor the dignity of others, we may approach moral issues with a well-rounded perspective.

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