The following is a model adapted from the philosophy of John Dewey:


moral problem: a situation where there is a conflict of interests and/or values

moral principle: a conventional guide towards the resolution of moral problems


Identification of the Problem: before we can set out to make things better, we must have a sense of something being wrong-- this is not always obvious.

Proposal for Solution: once we know that there's a problem, we can try to come up with a plausible solution-- this requires imagination and thought.

Testing of the Proposal: solutions should always be held hypothetically, until we have good reason to put them into action. Two questions must always be asked:

1) will this proposed solution actually solve the problem?

2) will this proposed solution create other problems that are worse than the original one?


This procedure can be used for any type of problem solving, but in the case of ethics, it must be used in conjunction with moral principles. These help us in identifying the problems as well as steering us clear of greater problems in implementing our solutions.