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Ethics 445


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Ethical Dilemma Author: Yenis Pineda Chamberlain College of Nursing Professor Catherine Coan 05/10/2015

This paper will examine two of the three Primary Schools of ethics. The dilemma: a married couple, both addicted to drugs, are unable to care for their infant daughter. She is taken from them by court order and placed in a foster home. The years pass. She comes to regard her foster parents as her real parents. They love her as they would their own daughter. When the child is 9 years old, the natural parents, rehabilitated from drugs, begin court action to regain custody. The case is decided in their favor. The child is returned to them, against her will. The courts in this case used the rule-based theory of the Three Primary Schools of Ethics to solve the problem. However, in my case I would have chosen the Care-based and Consequentialist theories. In the following paragraphs I will explain how to solve the dilemma using the care-based and consequentialist theory, explain the similarities and differences in both solutions, state whether the two schools of ethics are worthy of use in real life, and if Aristotle would have approved. The care-based theory is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. In this case this is what all adults need to do in order to understand all parties’ perspectives. The adult parties need to compromise. If that’s not possible, putting the love of the child first and allow the child to make the decision. Most likely the child would want to be with the foster parents and possibly have a relationship with the biological parents. All adults should look at the situation through her eyes and make a decision. The biological and foster parents should understand both parties perspective. The adults should compromise and see what they can do that would benefit the child the most, if that is not possible the love that they have for the child should allow them to make a decision. If they can come to a decision that would allow the child to stay with whomever she decides the one that does not keep her may have a possibility to have a relationship with the child. All adults should put themselves in the child shoes and make a decision. If you were in a child how are you feeling and what do you think is best for me (Ruggiero, 2012). The consequentialist theory is about assessing the consequences and determining which decision will result with the greatest benefit. In this case the consequences of sending the child back with the biological parents must be weighed. Some factors that must be taken into account include: possible relapsing or potential abuse toward the child. Another factor that must be considered is how the child may react if the situation is not handled properly. For example, the child may become rebellious towards the biological parents. The consequentialist theory is straight forward. The natural parents of the child are facing the consequences based on their actions. They committed mistakes in which they are regret but they feel they deserve another opportunity with their daughter. Unfortunately for the foster parents, they have the child’s love but also the responsibility of being a parent. It is not right for them to lose the adopted daughter that they raised. In my opinion a mother and father are not the ones that conceived you but the ones that raised you throughout your life. Nobody is perfect, yes we all make mistake that is why the biological parents deserve to be involved in her life and get to know her if she is willing. The biological parents learned from their mistakes making them worthy of an opportunity. If a person is addicted to drugs it is not like a light switch you cannot turn it off whenever you want.
In the following paragraph I will examine the similarities and differences in both solutions to the dilemma. Care-based theory solution is that all adults need to understand each other’s perspective and if it is not possible they should set their differences apart and put the love for the child first. The consequentialist theory solution is that the biological parents should understand that their actions have consequences. Therefore, the foster parents should be the ones allowed to stay with their daughter and allow the child to decide whether or not she wants her biological parents in her life. Both solutions allow the parents to consider the child’s feelings into consideration. Love for a child is greater then everything, the biological and foster parent should be able to have a conversation as human beings. The care based theory allows both parties to talk if they are able to get on good terms this would allow the biological parents to have a relationship with their daughter. However, with the consequensialist theory it is not assured that they will have a relationship with their child since it would all be up to their daughter and it could go either way. The care-based theory has both parties talk to understand both parties perspective. The consequentialist theory blames the biological parents for what they are going thru since their actions of when they were young is what brought them to this situation.
In my opinion the care-based and consequentialist should be able to be used in real life dilemmas. Although the consequentialist might be more realistic since the biological parents should know that their actions have consequences and if they are not granted custody it’s because of what they did in the past. National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws had approved in 1994 a model adoption statute (The Free Dictionary, 2003). It is designed to decrease the chances of the custody being over ruled or changed after the child has become attached to her new (foster) parent figures. In addition, in 1990s the courts had showed that they placed more importance on the child’s caretaker attachment. The care-based theory may also be used in real life but it would be more challenging. If the biological parents do not want to discuss their perspectives and just want to forcefully remove the child from their custody without taking the child’s feelings and emotions into consideration.
Aristotle would not have approved of either solution; he would approve the courts solution. Aristotle believes that responsible actions must be taken voluntarily. Human actions are involuntary under two distinct actions Aristotle believes (Kemerling, 2011). First, actions are made by an external force, second are actions performed out of ignorance. The biological parents abused drugs Aristotle considered their actions nonvoluntary. The great enemy of moral conduct, on Aristotle's view, is precisely the failure to behave well even on those occasions when one's deliberation has resulted in clear knowledge of what is right (Kemerling, 2011). The following statements I made are why Aristotle would disagree with my solutions and would agree with rule based theory. He would give the child to the biological parents. In conclusion, the two theories I would have used include the following; care-based and consequentialist. This scenario supports neither ethically but both ethically and legally, the family court is obligated to rule “in the best interests of the minor.” In my opinion no reasonable person should ever fathom the thought of removing a nine year old child from the family she’s ever known and forcing her to live with people she doesn’t even know. The court should decide on the childs best interest. Aristotle would disagree with my solutions.


DeVry University Priciples of Ethics online lecture, week 1. Retrieved on May, 3, 2015 from Kemerling, G. (2011, November 12). Aristotle: Ethics and the Virtues. Retrieved from The Free Dictionary. (2003). Child Custody legal definition of Child Custody. Retrieved from
Ruggiero, V. R. (2012). Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues (8th ed.). New York, New York,

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