Ethical dilemmas to make one twist

You’re advising the owner of an online dating service who is a religious person, and he wants to know how to respond to the Hobby Lobby/Affordable Care Act imbroglio.  He has a legal opinion, and he wants a PR opinion, but that PR opinion has to be grounded in ethical practice.

As the PR strategist for a former government official who is contemplating a run for the White House, you’re tasked with developing a position paper on the Edward Snowden/national security-cum-civil disobedience situation. Again, your position must adhere to ethical perspectives.

A fast food enterprise needs to better understand the issues of the living wage debate and its ancillary controversy over low-paid retail employees’ use of government benefits.  The perspective for the enterprise CEO will inform his remarks at the company’s franchisee meeting, and must present the situation in the ethics frame.

How would you approach these assignments, what research would you draw upon?

Thanks to Prof. Stephanie Smith, Kent State University, for a thought-provoking assignment from which this post is drawn. It’s due in a couple of weeks, and I’m sweating a little, I confess!

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2 Responses to “Ethical dilemmas to make one twist”

  1. Bill Sledzik says:

    All three are classic dilemmas, which means both positions appear to be morally defensible (even those you might personally disagree with). What I’m thinking about first is building a hierarchy of loyalties to help me find my own position in the issue. For example, does loyalty to the state trump loyalty to client (Hobby Lobby)? I would say it does. However, your client will insist that loyalty to God trumps loyalty to state, since HL is interpreting Affordable Care Act as a violation of religious beliefs and natural law.

    The really stick dilemmas are often solved by finding a compromise position — (which has already been reached with those employed by the Catholic Church). But that’s tough to do when dealing with matters of law, since the law is intended to provide “justice for all” and to serve the greater good. Hobby Lobby’s position does neither.

    In ethical dilemmas, I also like to test the client’s intentions. Is the real intent here to protect religious freedom, or is this just another political move by the Religious Right? (As outsiders, we can’t know the answer.) If they are simply using religion to play politics, I’d resign the account and add Hobby Lobby to a list of businesses I don’t patronize. Move over Chick-fil-A.

  2. Sean says:

    Bill – apologies, for some reason Word Press is no longer notifying me when someone comments on the blog. Most inconvenient!

    The Religious Right seems to be pulling back from a lot of its overt political activity. Even the new leader of the Southern Baptist Leadership Conference avers that he’s more interested in saving people’s souls through telling the Gospels than in trying to influence elections. That said, you’re right – we can’t really know.

    I’d say that the law can’t provide “justice for all,” as there are winners and losers in nearly every case. Our system of laws and justice is hardly perfect; just as with Capitalism, however, it’s the best one out there!

    Thanks for the comment.
    s.