Monday, January 14, 2008

Ethical Issues

Abortion (image: ultrasound scan of foetus)


The abortion debate asks whether it can be morally right to terminate a pregnancy before normal childbirth.

Some people think that abortion is always wrong. Some think that abortion is right when the mother's life is at risk. Others think that there is a range of circumstances in which abortion is morally acceptable.

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Animal ethics

Rational argument about the right and wrong way to treat animals is made more difficult by the deep love that many of us feel for animals.

For philosophers it raises fundamental questions about the basis of moral rights.

An electric chair with headpiece and straps on the arms and legs

Capital punishment

The question as to whether or not it is morally acceptable for the state to execute people, and if so under what circumstances, has been debated for centuries.

The ethical problems involved include the general moral issues of punishment with the added problem of whether it is ever morally right to deprive a human being of life.

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What do philosophy and religions say about contraception? Is it an issue of human rights?

Is there ever a duty to use contraception?



Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of a person for the benefit of that person.

In most cases euthanasia is carried out because the person who dies asks for it, but there are cases called euthanasia where a person can't make such a request.

Kenyan girl

Female Circumcision

Female circumcision usually involves the cutting or removal of the clitoris. This area of the genitals is very sensitive because it contains the most nerve endings.

Genital cutting is a painful practice that is often poorly carried out, and endangers the health and lives of millions of girls, particularly in Africa.

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Forced Marriage

The issue of forced marriages has been traditionally treated with hesitation by the government, for fear of offending cultural sensitivities.

But more information about the nature of forced marriages and a clearer understanding of cultural values has brought the subject under scrutiny.

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Honour Crimes

Honour killing is the murder of a woman accused of bringing shame upon her family.

Honour killing is an ancient tribal custom and an allegation against a woman can be enough to defile a family's honour and justify her murder.

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that the annual worldwide total of killings might be as high as 5,000 women.

Person in a suit with fingers crossed behind their back


Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we carry out.

Most people would condemn lying except when there's a good reason for it.

Father and son

Male Circumcision

Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin. It usually involves cutting some or all of the fold of the skin that covers the glans (head) of the penis.

Circumcision is primarily carried out for religious or cultural reasons. It is sometimes done for health, hygiene and aesthetic reasons or to treat disease.

A wedding cake with two grooms

Same-sex marriage

Marriage has been one of the fundamental organising principles of human society since history began.

But since the nature of marriage is changing in modern times anyway, with people marrying for love and companionship rather than social need, should the traditionally man-and-woman only club admit new members?

Antique, rusted iron ball and chain with shackle


Slavery can broadly be described as the ownership, buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of forced and unpaid labour.

Slavery is one of the things that everyone agrees is unethical.

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Competition is not unethical. It is reasonable that winners be rewarded, even if their victories have an element of chance; this is the essence of a game, and games are fundamental to humanity.

But the allure of winning can drive some competitors to unethical behaviour.



Torture involves deliberately inflicting physical or mental pain on a person without legal cause.

This includes threats to family members and loved ones.

Soldier pointing gun

Ethics of War

Human beings have been fighting each other since prehistoric times, and people have been discussing the rights and wrongs of it for almost as long.


ERS said...

Nice blog post, Garlyn.

For me, though, there is no ethical conundrum involved in dishonor killings. They are a gross violation of basic human rights and simply wrong, no matter the context.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

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