Mapping the world's opinions

Welcome to Ethics

This is a place to read about and contribute to discussions about ethics. Discover the controversies surround the world of morality, right and wrong, and impossible questions we've been seeking to answer for millennia.
Welcome to Ethics
Welcome to Ethics
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How should we address homelessness?

A homeless individual lacks a permanent and safe nighttime residence. Approximately 150 million people worldwide suffer from homelessness. Although a wide variety of potential solutions exist, experts disagree about the correct response to this widespread problem.

Would a Mars colony need a fixed government?

Advanced Space capabilities are in all likelihood coming rather soon, with SpaceX’s next generation rockets at the forefront. However, exploration of how a colony will fit into the global stage has only been explored by fiction authors thus-far and not decision - makers.

Is Thanos really a villain?

One of the latest villains in the esteemed and massively popular Marvel Cinematic universe is an alien named Thanos. Far above other beings, he believes that half of the world needs to be exterminated in order to save the planet. This may sound terrible, but Thanos has surprisingly understandable logic. Is Thanos evil, or justified in his claims?

Should euthanasia be legal?

Ethical aspects of euthanasia (Greek for "good death"), a physician-assisted suicide of a patient with a goal of ending the suffering from a terminal or incurable illness, were debated since the times of Hippocrates. Since then, although modern medicine made a great deal of progress, euthanasia and its validity as a medical practice still leads to controversies. Should a patient in great suffering...

#CakeGate: can you refuse service on the basis of faith?

The cake that Colorado baker Jack Phillips refused to bake was the kindling that lit a nation-wide discussion in the USA. Can a business deny service to an individual on the basis of their sexual orientation? As the Supreme Court came to a verdict in favour of the baker, the narrowness of the ruling still left the question unanswered. The baker was quickly followed by others who stood up in solida...

Mapping the world's opinions.

Should prisons be abolished?

Prison abolitionism is an ongoing debate globally, but in American society in particular. Prisons were first created to punish the guilty for their crimes and protect the innocent from harm. Now, some are creating rehabilitation programs to help the incarcerated have a better life after being released. Are prison systems effective, and would abolishing them be beneficial for society?

Are zoos ethical in the modern age?

Zoos can be a fun trip for any age, young or old. It may be the only chance most people will be able to see various exotic animals from around the world. Yet, they have also been known to be unethical or dangerous for both the animals and people. What are the sides to the zoo debate? Are zoos truly bad?

Should genetically modifying babies be legal?

The term “genetic modification” most commonly refers to a technique known as mitochondrial replacement therapy. The treatment involves constructing an embryo from the DNA of three people, using one party’s mitochondrial DNA in place of another, which is at risk for passing on a mitochondrial illness. In recent years, the genetic modification of babies has become a widely debated issue. The first g...

Should you give money to beggars?

For people fortunate enough to have extra money in their pockets, giving it away can be fraught with stress. The decision to give or not to give money to homeless people has real-world consequences. This question is not concerned with the legality of giving money, but rather with the moral and ethical dilemma that goes along with it.

Should exotic animals be pets?

The thought of owning an exotic pet can be exciting, but many do not research how to properly care for it before purchasing, leading to animal abuse and neglect. But domesticating wild animals that are endangered or don't have a natural habitat due to climate change can save a species from extinction. Should the private ownership of exotic animals be banned, or is it beneficial to both owners and ...

What are the best research philosophies in academia?

The term research philosophy refers to a system of beliefs and assumptions about the development of knowledge. In layman’s terms, a research philosophy is the choice a researcher makes on how to pursue his research, consciously or subconsciously. Scholars have identified five of the most prominent research philosophies in academia, however, choosing one is a matter of debate.

Should we boycott Facebook because of Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica is a British political consulting firm. In March, allegations broke that CA obtained private information from an estimated 50 million Facebook users without their permission. This data was then shared with third parties, including Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the 2016 US Presidential Elections. The issue has raised concerns about privacy in the age of Big Data, a...

Should people switch to electric cars for the environment?

The environment has been breaking down over the years and only recently have we tried to stop it. One of the biggest problems is the waning ozone layer. The ozone layer keeps the earth at a safe temperature and provides it with the perfect atmosphere for life. One of the substances that breaks down the ozone layer is carbon monoxide, which usually come from cars. Electric cars are presented as a p...

Is it offensive for sports teams to use Native American mascots?

Teams like the Washington Redskins, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians have always used Native American imagery and mascots in their branding. Advocacy groups accuse them of cultural appropriation and playing on racial slurs. Are their claims justified? Is the use of Native American imagery a sign of respect for their culture? Is their offence justified?

Should people wear fur products?

Numerous fashion houses and even entire cities have banned the sale or use of fur. The tides are turning against the fur industry as people become more conscious of the way in it exploits and abuses animals.

Should corporations have "moral responsibility"?

With BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, and Apple’s ‘batterygate’, there is no shortage of corporations behaving in a morally reprehensible way to cut costs or increase profits. Should corporations have morals? Are business ethics important? Is it a firm’s collective responsibility to behave in an ethical way?

Is tourism beneficial to developing countries?

Everywhere is a tourist destination nowadays. With flights available every hour, the possibilities are endless. However, this combined with the internet's ability to help people plan trips anywhere means that many developing countries that previously had no tourism now are flooded with them. When tourists land in a country in the midst of developing, is it beneficial to that place? Or is it detrim...

Does the marketplace of ideas work?

It is said that truth is found where opinions intersect. The marketplace of ideas is the figurative town thoroughfare where zealots and intellectuals barter, subjecting their ideas to the gauntlet of public debate. Much how the best goods and services may rise to the top in a free market economy through innovation and competition, truth and the soundest ideas and philosophies may rise to promin...

Is advertising morally wrong?

Advertising is ubiquitous to modern day society. You would be hard-pressed to go a day or even an hour without seeing some form of advertising. However, the whole point of advertising is to manipulate our minds into largely pointless purchases. Should we condone the amount of advertising we see? Or is it wrong?

Should schools be able to ban books?

Hundreds of books have been challenged or banned in schools throughout the US. These books are banned on a huge range of reasons, from obscene language to sexual content to violence to the discussion of menstruation. But all of these things are facts of life. Should academic institutions have the power to censor books?

What are the positions on gun control?

There are more than 300,000,000 guns in the United States. Guns have claimed the lives of more American citizens than all the wars since the American revolution put together. With guns holding a unique place in the American psyche, should there be measures in place to limit gun ownership? What should these measures look like?

Do theodicies explain why God allows evil in the world?

A theodicy is a story that attempts to demonstrate that the presence of evil in the world does not disprove the existence of a perfectly good, almighty, and all-knowing God. Theodicies and defences are two forms of response to this conundrum. Evil can be classified into natural evil such as disease and physical catastrophes or moral evil, which can be summed up as "man's inhumanity to man."

Should human cloning be banned?

Cloning is the creation of a genetic copy of a sequence of DNA or of the entire genome of an organism. In the cloning debate, the term ‘cloning’ typically refers to a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). SCNT involves transferring the nucleus of a somatic cell into an oocyte form, where most of the DNA has been removed. The manipulated oocyte is then treated with an electric curr...

Is cannibalism ethical?

Cannibalism - the practice of eating human flesh - is illegal in every country on Earth. Yet, the moral context is far from straightforward: is it always wrong? What about in matters of life and death? Should having the victim's consent impact the way it is viewed?

Should voting in elections be mandatory?

Countries like Australia have mandatory voting to increase political participation. In the face of growing public disillusionment with politics and a substantial amount of the adult populace who refuse to vote in elections, should voting be mandatory?

Should the wealthy pay more taxes?

Western societies have become more economically unequal, with a small minority holding the majority of the wealth while public services continue to decline. The back drop of austerity has made this inequality even starker, leading many to question whether the richest should be paying more to help fund public services?

Is torture ever justified?

Torture is the intentional use of extreme physical suffering on a non-consenting, defenceless person for the purpose of breaking their will. While it is a horrific act, defendants argue that torture can produce information that is extremely valuable to governments and can save many lives.

Is affirmative action racist?

Affirmative action is a policy in which an individual's race, sex, religion or national origin are taken into account to increase opportunities provided to an underrepresented group in society. It is used to encourage diversity and equality. Affirmative action can most often be seen in academic institutions, such as college admissions, scholarships and programs.

Should hate speech be illegal?

Hate speech has been around since time began, when feuds began occurring between different groups. Is it something that should be lawfully punished ? Or is it covered as a part of someone's right to free speech?

Should military conscription be banned?

Conscription, also known as compulsory military service, is the practice of requiring military service of all qualifying individuals within a nation. Chiefly known for having been employed during the First and Second World Wars, the duration of modern-day conscription can range anywhere from two weeks to two years. But does conscription foster hyper-nationalism and unhealthy aggression? Is the go...

Should confederate monuments be removed?

Whether or not confederate monuments should be removed is hotly debated. On one hand, confederacy has a negative history. Automatically, it’s associated with slavery and Civil War. On the other hand, confederate monuments are simply a representation of history. Shouldn’t all history, good or bad, be put on display?

Should surrogacy be legal?

Surrogacy refers to the process through which a woman intentionally becomes pregnant with a baby she does not intend to keep, instead carrying the foetus for its intended parent or parents, usually because the parent is unable to do so without her. Surrogacy may be altruistic where the surrogate is not paid, or commercial where she is. Countries and states often have unclear legislation on surroga...

Are vaccines safe?

Immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. "Anti-vaxxers” have firm convictions about vaccines’ harmful effects and many people believe their children have been harmed by vaccines. Others have ‘vaccine hesistancy’: they are not inherently anti-vaccine, but are concerned or confused by the mixed m...

Is political correctness detrimental to society?

Although founded on the idea that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, political correctness is frequently used to dismiss opinions as racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic. What is the real impact of political correctness? Does it foster harmony, or is it a weapon to stifle debate and dismiss controversial opinions as invalid?

Is shale oil a sustainable business model?

The drilling of shale oil has been hailed as revolution that has brought cheap gas and oil to American and made America a net exporter of oil and natural gas. However, there is serious debate as to whether shale is a sustainable business model given the high number of bankruptcies in the sector.

Should we legalize all drugs?

Most countries in the world have laws banning the production, sale, and possession of illicit drugs. Despite billions being spent each year on enforcing these laws, a robust criminal market for drugs persists, and many places are undergoing epidemics of drug addiction. The challenges of enforcing drug prohibitions have led some advocates to propose legalizing drugs, while others maintain that laws...

Should corporal punishment be allowed?

Corporal punishment - state sanctioned physical punishment - has been banned in 58 countries worldwide. However, some argue these bans deter violent crime. Should corporal punishment be allowed? Can it be an effective disciplinary tool? Or is it linked to skyrocketing crime rates?

What is cultural appropriation?

Cultural appropriation, the adoption of aspects of another culture by members of a dominant culture, is not a new phenomenon. Today, wearing an insensitive Halloween costume or sporting a certain hairstyle can draw accusations of cultural appropriation. But what is cultural appropriation? A form of neo-colonialism? Racism? Cultural theft? Political correctness gone too far? Or is cultural appropri...

Should the drinking age be 18?

The risks associated with drinking have led most countries to set a minimum legal age for the purchase or consumption of alcohol, but the specific drinking age varies from place to place. The most common drinking age around the world is 18, but the United States has a minimum legal drinking age of 21, and ages from 15 to 25 are used in other nations. Is 18 the ideal standard, or should the drinkin...

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