Ethical Dilemma

Essay by matthew ramaCollege, UndergraduateB, January 1996

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During my high school years, I had to make many decisions. Some of these decisions came easily to me, like what clothes to wear to school. Some of them took more thought, like what classes I should take during the upcoming semester. And some of them were questions that kept me up all night to decide between right and wrong and forcing me to determine what would be in my best interest. At this time, I was thinking as a Consequentialist. Personal ethical egoism thinks that I always ought to act in my self-interest.

One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make involved whether or not I would drink alcohol. This question kept me pondering off and on for the better part of three school years and the second semester of my first college year.

If I just considered the legal side of things, then this should have been an easy decision for me because of the fact that I was under age and it is obviously illegal for persons who have not yet turned twenty-one to consume alcoholic beverages.

This would be the fifth stage of moral functioning, Legality. If you think at this stage, you will follow the rules and laws all the time.

The law, however, did not prevent many of my friends from drinking nor did it do much in the way of stopping them after they had started. The law was too easy to avoid so getting caught by the cops was rarely a matter of great concern. Besides, even when one of my friends would get caught, they were usually released to their parents with nothing more than a stern warning from the officer who gave them the ride home.

Now, being at home brings up another reason not to drink.