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Resolving Moral Dilemmas Using the Creative Middle Way Approach

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Technical Session - Assessment

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Ashraf Ghaly P.E. Union College

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Ashraf Ghaly is Director of Engineering and Carl B. Jansen Professor of Engineering at Union College, Schenectady, NY. Published over 250 papers, technical notes, and reports. Supervised over 50 research studies. Registered PE in NYS. ASCE Fellow and Member of the Chi-Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society.

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Moral dilemmas of all sorts arise in human dealings. Some of these dilemmas is easy to resolve, others are complicated. Some is minor, others are serious. Seeing matters from different viewpoints result in different convictions. Humans have their methods of thought wrestling in an attempt to prove that they are taking the high road. Sources of dilemmas are numerous. They could be professional, legal, business-related, arising from different interpretation of the meaning of an action, or plain stubbornness on someone’s part, which results in great resentment by the opposing party. It is not hard for one to be enraged when they face resistance to the way they see things from a certain angle. In the vast majority of moral dilemmas, none of the competing parties can lay claim to absolute perfection while placing total fault with the opposing party. It is almost inconceivable that one party could be totally right while the other being completely wrong. With this comprehension in mind, a window opens for the creative middle way approach to work. This approach requires willingness of all parties to come up with courses of action that satisfy as many moral demands as possible. This is a rational approach that can only succeed if all competing parties can see themselves as winners at the conclusion of the process. This paper will detail the author’s experience in teaching the creative middle way approach to the students taking a course entitled ethics, technology and society where an entanglement of complex moral issues required a fresh insight into how to address the concerns of competing parties in a way that is mutually satisfactory to all. Students were given scenarios in which they were assigned different roles and were told that tough decisions had to be made. Those that did not have the spirit of accommodation were uncomfortable but, faced with the prospect of getting entrapped in an even bigger moral dilemma, they ended up seeking a reasonable outcome. Students rated the course very highly and commended its attempt to find realistic and coherent ways toward resolving moral problems.

Ghaly, A. (2019, June), Resolving Moral Dilemmas Using the Creative Middle Way Approach Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33242

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