Many factors form a distinction between challenges and dilemmas. Challenges are most typically approached with a solution or compromise and is of a lesser extremity than a dilemma. Despite being internally strenuous, dilemmas consist of conflicting ideas that cannot be acted upon together nor developed into a compromise. Although commonly found, dilemmas can be misinterpreted as a simple problem that can easily be solved. Dilemmas are often dealt with internally, therefore are negatively affecting the ability for one person to make a difficult decision by themselves. In the novel If I Stay written by Gayle Forman, and in modern sources, the authors explore the challenges in decision making caused by internal conflicts.
In the novel and the modern source, “Internal Conflicts in Desires and Morals”, written by Frank Jackson, both authors discuss the conflicting choice that the subject battling an internal conflict will encounter. In this particular article, an internal conflict is a crucial decision that can influence one’s quality of life or desires at their expense. As an example, the subject will face a decision to choose between one idea that they would desire and another different idea that they also desire. The subject already knows that the decision will not have a satisfyingly positive outcome, however in order to settle the dilemma, one idea will be forced to choose. Jackson writes, “Typically, the situation will be one where, due to some contingent limitation in knowledge or ability, the agent cannot achieve what he would most like, and so is faced with a more or less unpalatable choice” (Jackson 105). Jackson describes the influence of important decisions as merely based on one’s judgment of the situation and the most desirable option in the dilemma. Main character Mia, in the novel If I Stay, battles an internal conflict that has allowed Mia to be introduced to the most stressful point in her entire life. Mia is given the impossible decision of life or death and she deals with the problem independently. Although she is not given the choice to have assistance with her struggles due to her out-of-body experience, she relies heavily on how her choice will articulate the future of her significant others and the future that Mia has left. When Mia faces the reality of her situation she reasons among herself, “How am I supposed to decide this? How can I possibly stay without Mom and Dad? How can I leave without Teddy? Or Adam?” (Forman 88). From this quote, Mia shows herself to be in a situation in which her desires will never be completely fulfilled. Mia does not want to live without her parents, but also does not want to leave behind her brother and boyfriend, therefore left with an unimaginable decision that is accompanied by many forms of suffering. From the realities of internal conflicts discussed by Frank Jackson and the extremity of Mia’s dilemma, both authors demonstrate the aspects that internal conflicts inflict upon the subject and how it can create several hardships.
If I Stay and the modern source, “Harm to Others Outweighs Harm to Self in Moral Decision Making” written by Molly Crockett and other authors, both show how the influences among important people in one’s life, can affect their final decision. This article specifically explains how the subject making the decision can be persuaded in their final decision by the fear to harm others around them. Not only can internal conflicts be difficult to decide, but they become more difficult when outside factors want to persuade the subject to make a certain decision. Crockett writes, “In two studies, we show that most people valued other’s pain more than their own pain. This was evident in a willingness to pay more to reduce others’ pain than their own and a requirement for more compensation to increase others’ pain relative to their own” (Crockett et al 1). Persuasion and the fear to disappoint others can contribute to one’s judgment of their decision. This describes one of the many factors that prevents Mia from making her life-changing decision. Mia wants to please her family and friends by choosing to live, however she lost some of the most important people, her parents and brother, and cannot imagine returning to a world where they are not present. Her grandparents encourage her boyfriend, Adam, to give her a reason to stay by saying, “‘Maybe she’s just biding her time. So you talk to her. You tell her to take all the time she needs but to come on back. You’re waiting for her’” (Forman 82). Mia’s extended family and friends give her the reasons why she should continue her life, although Mia questions herself if she can do it. These two sources show that a decision can be made under the influence of one’s surroundings. This creates a challenging decision that is made to please others, not a decision to cause self-pleasure.
The final effects of an important decision on the subject, can negatively impact them as shown in the novel and the modern source, “The Definition of Moral Dilemmas: A Logical Problem”, written by Jurriaan De Haan. Within the article, the author explains the possible outcomes of an internal conflict. As seen before, dilemmas are resolved with typically no positive outcome. The author further explains how the individual battling a moral dilemma, will attempt to satisfy both problems, but instead make the issue worse or more complicated. De Haan writes, “It means that as he judges that he morally ought to do A and judges that he morally ought to do B, he attempts to do A and attempts to do B. However, A and B cannot be done both. Trying to do A and trying to do B would be to attempt the impossible” (De Haan 270). By making this statement, the effect of the internal conflict of the subject can be damaging. In the novel If I Stay, Mia wants to find a solution to both sides of her dilemma however, realistically it can not be done. Mia is unable to make a compromise that will allow her to see her dead parents and living friends and family. This reality enables Mia to give up on herself and abandon her problems without a solution. This causes Mia to think to herself that, “I want it all to go away. I want to go away. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be in this hospital. I don’t want to be in this suspended state where I can see what’s happening where I’m aware of what I’m feeling without being able to actually feel it” (Forman 161). This frustrates Mia and provokes her to leave everything she started behind. She believes that she is making the best decision for herself to abandon her problems, however she is unaware that she is intensifying her dilemma. This means that the subject can begin to feel confounded in their decision and encourage them to give up from the inability to be satisfied.
Moral conflicts can influence the thought-process of the subject selecting between two conflicting ideas. The challenges involved in an internal conflict, can cause stress and overwhelming emotion on the subject. These hardships can create additional problems as well as the challenge to make a decision. Dilemmas consist of many conflicting ideas that can have an effect on many people other than the individual. Although compromises are a popular resolution to an internal dilemma, neither sides to a dilemma will be fully satisfied.