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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ethical Issues (Abortion, Euthanasia, Traffic Laws, and Everyone's Favorites)

Below I have listed an assortment of ethical “issues,” situations where there is some level of debate regarding the morally correct response. Along with each, I have included questions/ explanations of the minority view or the point of contention. Go ahead and read through them and consider each one:

  • Abortion: Does anatomy and potential warrant describing a fetus as a human with rights? Does the health of an adult woman trump that of an unborn child?
  • Alcohol: Can drinking a beverage ever be inherently wrong? Should alcohol be avoided, despite its cultural acceptance, because it leads to poor decision-making and is statistically more dangerous than drug use.
  • Animal Rights: Does the ability to reason in higher animals and the evident ability to feel emotions suggest that animals should be afforded the same rights as humans? Is there a minimum level of care and treatment that should be given to animals?
  • Death Penalty: Do humans have the right to administer death to those they have lawfully declared deserving? Is death the worst possible punishment? Are there crimes outside of murder the are heinous enough to deserve capital punishment?
  • Drugs: As with alcohol, are individuals allowed to live as they please so long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s lives? Are the large amounts spent on the War on Drugs justified by principle given their inefficiency?
  • Ecological Alternatives: Do humans have a duty to value and maintain the environment? Must an individual choose a more “environmentally-friendly” alternative if given the option? To what degree is price a factor?
  • Euthanasia: Is killing sometimes acceptable if the intent behind it is good and, ultimately, it removes pain? Must those who are euthanized be terminal?
  • Forced Marriage: Must people be allowed their choice in whom they marry?
  • Forced Voting: Should people be required to vote? Do people have the right to shirk civic responsibility?
  • Gender Roles: Are men and women equal? Does ontological equality assume functional equality—that is, if they are equal should they be allowed to do the same things? Should distinctions be dropped in areas such as marriage, public restrooms, or any other present division?
  • Gun Control: Should individuals be barred from having weapons that add to their personal safety? Do individuals have a right to protect themselves at any expense? Does the safety of the community take precedence over the rights of an individual?
  • Lying: Is lying wrong in every situation, or is it tolerated when achieving a greater good?
  • Professional Sports: Is the competition, social pressure, and amount paid to professional athletes acceptable given that it often leads to unethical behavior and athletes intentionally endangering themselves? Are these issues relevant given that sports are a leisure activity and professionals have chosen this career?
  • Sex: What sexual relations are permissible, specifically regarding gender, relationship status, age, and level of consent?
  • Slavery: What makes it wrong to buy or sell a person? Is slavery a viable, though perhaps unpractical, economic institution?
  • Speeding: Though the government has plainly mandated for our own safety that vehicles not exceed the speed limit, the overwhelming majority of people speed, and in most cases, the police don’t even punish speeding under a certain point—does this make speeding acceptable in most cases?
  • Taxation: Is the redistribution acceptable in any form, and if so, should the government be involved in it? How much should the government tax its citizens? Are citizens obliged to submit to governmental rule and taxation even if they do not agree with the use and motives of the taxation?
  • Torture: Is doing something wrong acceptable if it leads to a greater good? Is it acceptable to harm another in cruel and unusual ways under any circumstance?
  • War: Should nations participate at all in war? What criteria designates a war as just and at what point is a nation allowed/obliged to enter a just war? Should Christian individuals participate in a “just” war waged by their country? Should a nation maximize its efficiency in war by means of a draft?



Though western culture is highly influenced by Christianity, there is an evident distinction between faithful living and assimilating. If we are to live faithfully, then as we answer each of these questions we should expect our answers to not line up with most people. And beware of your definition of “most people.” Don’t think of the caricature you’ve developed of worldly people in your mind, but consider your coworkers, peers, and non-believing friends. Is there a distinction?
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