Ethics
Resources for Matt Cleaver's ethics classes

Ethical and Moral Topics

I try, as much as possible, to share semi-current news articles of ethical interest on my Pocket feed (find it by going to bit.ly/cleaverpocket). Feel free to peruse it for ideas.

Places online that discuss moral and ethical issues:

These items below are simply suggested topics to stimulate your thinking. You are welcome to discuss any ethical issue.

  • Abortion - “Common Arguments about Abortion” and “Better (Philosophical) Arguments About Abortion” (philarchive.org/archive/NOBQAA) - Easy-to-read introductory paper on the philosophical issues surrounding abortion. Download it at the link.
    • Is abortion a valid form of birth control?
    • When is it too late to get an abortion?
  • Medical Ethics
    • Organ Donation - Currently, you have to register to be an organ donor. If everyone was an organ donor, more lives would be saved. Should everyone be required to be an organ donor?
    • “Pulling the plug” - Is it acceptable to remove someone from life support, resulting in their death?
    • Treating criminals and lowlifes - Do criminals have a right to medical care? Does a person who was shot by police for killing someone else have a right to extraordinary life-saving measures in an emergency room?
    • Birth Control and sterilization
    • Psychosis (people not in their right mind) - At what point should we commit someone to a mental health institution against their will?
    • Vaccinations: There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that vaccines do more good than harm. Should a parent be forced to give their child vaccines?
    • Article - The Last Children of Down Syndrome: Prenatal testing is changing who gets born and who doesn’t. This is just the beginning. The Atlantic, December 2020. See me for a paper or PDF copy.
    • Euthanasia (the painless killing, usually at the request of the patient, of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma) - Should someone have the right to choose to die?
  • Genetic Engineering
    • Cloning
    • Selecting the sex of a future child
    • Breeding superhumans (athletes, geniuses, soldiers)
    • Podcast: “Facing the Synthetic Age.” For billions of years, natural selection has shaped our world; now, humans have the capability to design it. What problems might arise from this power? (Examining Ethics, episode 36).
  • Artificial Reproduction (such as in-vitro fertilization)
  • Physical Violence
  • Self-defense
    • Stand your ground laws - Almost everyone agrees that you should be allowed to defend yourself. However, should there be a limit to that defense? If someone makes a verbal threat, can you kill them? When does self-defense go too far?
  • Charitable Giving
  • Greed
  • Power and manipulation
  • Voting
  • Lying and honesty
  • Crime and theft
  • Sexual ethics
    • Homosexuality
    • Polygamy (multiple committed, long-term partners)
    • Polyamory (can you love more than one person at once?)
    • Premarital sex
    • Hooking up (multiple non-committed partners)
    • Adultery
    • Incest
    • Prostitution
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Drugs
    • Illegal
    • Prescription drugs
  • Gambling
  • Sexism
  • Racism
  • Technology
    • Surveillance
    • Big data
    • Drone warfare
    • Podcast: “The Precrime Unit.” This podcast talks to sociologists and philosophers about how big data is changing the relationship between police and the communities they serve. We then turn to the justice of using statistical predictions for the purposes of profiling and police intervention (Hi-Phi Nation, Season 3, episode 1).
    • Artificial intelligence (AI)
    • Should we place limits on AI so it doesn’t potentially destroy the human race?
  • Torture
  • War
  • Speech and profanity
  • Markets and economics
    • “Price-gouging” (charging more for a product during opportune times, such as gas prices spiking during a hurricane)
    • Inequality
    • Minimum wage