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Ethical Questions

For debates, discussion and personal development

The fun ethics puzzle is after the ethical questions below.

First here are some more serious and appropriate thought-provoking questions for ethical discussion, debating and team exercises.

Try these for starters..

  1. The UK National Lottery, and other state-sponsored national lottery schemes designed to raise money for 'good causes', are a tax on the poor. Discuss.
  2. The Internet, given its potential to connect people's needs with other people's offerings will largely and inevitably replace the profit-taking corporations which basically do the same thing, notably financial services (lending, borrowing, pensions, insurance, etc). Discuss.
  3. The governments of the Western world would do better to buy the opium and coca harvests from poor countries rather than burn them. Imagine the constructive effect that could be achieved by diverting the billions spent on military action instead into aid and education. Who is it anyway that provides the demand for the opium and coca? It's not South America of Asia - it's the West. Discuss.
  4. The British government announced in December 2006 that it was stopping the two year investigation by the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) into the BAE Systems' Saudi Arabia Al Yamamah arms contract, because to proceed would damage national interests. Among other questionably nasty smells, it seems that certain deal-brokers closely connected with the Saudis objected to the SFO's scrutiny of their Swiss bank accounts. BAE of course denied any wrong-doing. The real question is now whether Britain's interests are more damaged by its government's effective approval of this sort of (alleged) corruption, and its selective approach to truth and justice. The scandal rumbles along, especially since the 2008 British court judgement that the investigation should not have been halted. Discuss.

More ethical questions for debate and discussion, etc

Fun Ethics Exercise

A Fun Test To Assess Ethical Judgement

Please note that this item contains misleading and exaggerated information (ack Mick and Lynn for assistance), so use it with care, and ensure people are warned after answering the puzzle that certain 'facts' are historically unreliable. 

The item appears here - and can arguably be used for ethical learning and demonstration - because it is a popular and accessible puzzle, and despite the exaggerations the principle lesson remains valid, i.e., that we all too quickly make quick ethical judgements based on our own conditioned ideas of what is good and bad. Quick judgements and subjective criteria rarely give reliable assessment of actual goodness and potential.

Two ethical questions:

Question 1: If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had eight children already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis, would you recommend that she have an abortion?

Remember your honest answer and go to question 2.

Question 2: It is time to elect the world leader, and yours is the deciding vote. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates:

  • Candidate A: He associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologers. He's had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks up to ten Martinis a day.
  • Candidate B: He was ejected from office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a large amounts of whisky every evening.
  • Candidate C: He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn't had any extra-marital affairs.

Which of these candidates would be your choice? Decide, then see the answer.