Self-sacrifice and self-Interest: Chapter 6

Major message: What is the major message of the chapter?

One of the most difficult dilemmas anyone can face is a “right vs. right” conflict. This is a conflict in which the individual must choose between two potentially beneficial outcomes and weigh the costs and benefits of both. The chapter provides guidance about how someone coping with an ethical dilemma can remain true to their core principles and negotiate the difficult territory of such a decision. A good example of this is the dilemma between truth and order, as manifested in the classical drama Antigone; Antigone wants to bury her brother; Creon wants her brother’s body to be left unburied as an example to traitors. To answer such dilemmas in the decision-maker’s own life requires a clear and deep understanding of his or values and personal truths. The chapter stresses that there are not singular, eternal and unbending truths which exist for all time and all people; rather the reader must have a sense of his or her own personal moral compass.

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Q2. Key words

The four questions to ask when making a decision: “how do my feelings and instincts define the dilemma; which of the responsibilities and values in conflict have the deepest roots in my life and in communities I care about; looking to the future what is my way?” (Badaracco 1997: 82)

Nietzsche’s concept of the superman — not someone who is a tyrant but someone who stands outside of the herd?” (Badaracco 1997: 77)

Q3. Key sentences

“Becoming who you are also involves choosing which of your abiding instincts and commitments you will leave alone and which you will struggle to reshape” (Badaracco 1997: 76).

“This is my way…for the way — that does not exist” (Badaracco 1997: 77).

“Move me to the goals I care about most strongly” (Badaracco 1997: 82).

Q4. Main idea reflection

I found this chapter to be quite empowering because sometimes when people get into discussions of ethics they become quite offended if someone makes a different life choice: for example, if a friend decides not to pursue a corporate job and to become an artist, their lawyer friend may perceive this choice as being directed “at” them. Likewise, if someone decides to lose weight and run a marathon, sometimes their friends view this choice as invalidating their own lifestyles. But pursuing your personal truth, so…

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