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An Ethical Challenge, Admission Essay Example

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Admission Essay

An interesting aspect to personal ethics, or at least insofar as my own experience informs me, is the somewhat reactive nature of them.  Generally speaking, I do not conduct my daily life with a conscious set of moral parameters in place, nor do I tend to apply my own standards of behavior on whatever scenarios I encounter.  Occasionally, however, a circumstance presents itself in which I am compelled to both draw upon, and confront, these mechanisms within me.

That is a perhaps grandiose way of introducing a very specific and recent dilemma I faced.  The situation was probably a relatively ordinary one; I had returned a purchase made online, and I noted, within a day, that the price had been refunded to me on my Internet payment site.  I was relieved because, even though most of us conduct a good deal of commerce online, there remains a lingering doubt as to that “invisible” presence meeting its obligations. I quickly sent an appreciative email to the merchant, and went about my business. Hours later, however, a mail alert came, apprising me that finds had been sent to my account.  Upon logging in, I saw that the same refund amount had been deposited in my name twice.  I will confess that, in that moment, I had the distinct feeling of having been extremely fortunate.  I cannot, moreover, honestly claim that a profound sense of ethics then asserted itself and compelled me to return the money. Less dramatically, I simply realized a mistake had been made, and one likely to be noted by the merchant itself.  Without giving the matter any more thought, I emailed the company and informed them of the double refund.

Surprisingly, the merchant denied the reality. That response before me on the screen, I hesitated. I had made an effort.  I had done the right thing and, if the other party chose to ignore the facts of the matter, it could be reasonably argued that I should keep the additional money. Nonetheless, I tried once more, this time sending in my email a screen shot of the dual refund. There was conflict within me, but not entirely composed of frustration at my own unwillingness to let the issue alone and keep the funds.  Some of this was present, yet I was also aware of a kind of ethical anger. I was increasingly frustrated by their inability to meet me on this ethical terrain, as it were, and by their persistence in tempting me.

The episode concluded several days later when, and in spite of the merchant’s protestations that I owed them nothing, I returned the money by the same means it had been delivered to me.  I have since reflected on this affair a great deal because, as much as I would like to believe I acted out of an inviolable sense of rightness, I suspect the truth is more pragmatic. That is to say, the ethics that motivated me to act as I did were reflexes, and not conscious determinations, or even choices.  It was not a matter of my seeking to do the right thing; it was more an inescapable sense that failing to do so would violate something in my nature and, in an odd way, my “ethical” reaction was somewhat selfishly based.  I was unconcerned about the merchant, except as its actions thwarted my attempts to restore normalcy.

Fortunately, some additional thought eases my mind, for I later asked myself how, in fact, I would prefer my sense of ethics manifest itself.  It seems to me that sense did precisely what it was supposed to do, in that it served as a shield when a threat appeared.  It was hardly sensational, and it did little to endear me to the erring merchant.  I am left, however, with the agreeable feeling that, when dilemmas appear, I possess an instrument or compass upon which I can rely. Given the intrinsic difficulty of ethical dilemmas, in fact, my hope is that it never weaken in its reactive nature.

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