180 Ethics Topics & Ethical Questions to Debate

Our code of ethics is derived from what we think is right or wrong. On top of that, we have to agree to the moral standards established by the society we live in. Conventional norms generally label theft, murder, or harassment as bad. However, there are many influences that impact our considerations and understanding of ethics.

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies moral issues. This article outlines the three different types of ethics and presents a list of compelling ethics topics for essays and research papers, as well as ethical questions to debate.

You don’t know how to write about ethics or which ethical argument topic to choose for your paper? Maybe your assignment deadline is dreadfully looming over you? Our custom writing service is happy to help you craft a fantastic essay on ethics whenever the need arises.

🔝 Top 10 Ethical Topics

  1. Religious beliefs vs. medical care
  2. Issues behind unpaid internships
  3. Toxic environment at the workplace
  4. The dilemma of reporting an accident
  5. Should one’s political leanings be private?
  1. The limits of doctor-patient confidentiality
  2. Is it ethical to pay children for good grades?
  3. Ethics at the workplace and discrimination
  4. Should social media be allowed at the workplace?
  5. Promotion of environmental responsibility in business

🧑🤝🧑 Types of Ethics

Modern philosophy splits ethics into three groups: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics.

  • The core question of metaethics is: “What is morality, and where does it come from?” It is also concerned with the emergence of human values, motivation, and reasoning.
  • Normative ethics seeks to answer the question, “How should I act?” An example of a normative moral theory is Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. In other words: be kind.
  • Applied ethics seeks to apply moral considerations into real-life controversial subjects. Its contents can vary greatly and touch bioethics as well as criminal justice. It studies specific actions and practices from the point of moral acceptance.
Virtues are necessary.

However, ethics does not end with these three types. Over the centuries, philosophers have proposed various ethical theories. Their four general categories are deontological, utilitarian, right, and virtue ethics.

  • A deontologist is a person with a set of moral duties from which they will not adhere. When faced with an ethical conflict, they will always act according to their self-proclaimed obligations.
  • For a utilitarian, a decision needs to yield the greatest benefit for the majority.
  • If rights are the root of an ethical theory, these are the highest priority. A person’s rights can either be established in a society by law or bestowed from one individual upon another.
  • Judging someone by virtue means considering a person’s character rather than their actions. Here, an individual’s reputation, motivation, and ethics play a crucial role.

Now that you know the basics, you have the perfect ground to start your ethics essay.

🤔 Ethical Topics for an Essay

Ethical issues are situations in which an individual needs to evaluate which course of action is morally right. Essays on this topic shine a light on difficult questions. Therefore, students need to defend their position convincingly.

  1. Discuss what we should do about climate change.
  2. What are the moral problems surrounding abortion?
  3. Can we still justify eating meat?
  4. Investigate the use of plastic in the beauty industry.
  5. Is it unethical to be extremely rich?
  6. Should you buy Nestlé products despite the fact that the company privatizes water?
  7. Is the unequal distribution of wealth unethical?
  8. Discuss how workplace ethics should take sexism into account.
  9. What can we do to combat racism?
  10. Why are LGBT+ people discriminated against?
  11. Should euthanasia be legal?
  12. Can war be ethical?
  13. Should schools punish students for attending the Fridays for Future protests?
  14. Would drug use be unethical if it were legal?
  15. Explain the moral problems that come with automating jobs.
The Ten Commandments.
  1. Is it ethical to hire someone to do assignments for you?
  2. How far should everyone’s right to privacy go?
  3. Is using animals for scientific testing unethical?
  4. How should governments deal with refugees? 
  5. Discuss the carbon impact of having children.
  6. Can modern societies still be held accountable for what their nation did in the past?
  7. Analyze the benefits and disadvantages of universal income.
  8. How much control should the state have on the press?
  9. Should schools teach religion?
  10. What are ethical concerns regarding downloading media from the internet?

🖥️ Computer Ethics Essay Topics

The advent of information technology has altered every aspect of our lives. Computer ethics applies traditional moral theories to everything surrounding computers and cyber security. The list below contains enthralling ethical topics concerned with the realm of computing.

  1. How much work should we leave entirely to computers?
  2. Discuss the dangers of storing vulnerable data online.
  3. Are computers secure enough to contain so much information about our lives?
  4. Discuss if hacking can be morally justified.
  5. Examine privacy-related concerns regarding computers.
  6. Should all software be free?
  7. How can you legitimize the possession of a computer algorithm patent?
  8. What can be done to prevent cyberbullying?
  9. Investigate the moral effects anonymity has on internet users.
  10. Whose laws apply if you wish to protect your rights online?
  11. Discuss how the necessity to own a computer impacts poorer nations and people.
  12. Which ethical problems can people face due to the internet’s possibilities?
  13. When is sabotaging another person’s computer justified?
  14. Analyze the social responsibility that comes with developing new software.
  15. Are computer crimes less harmful than crimes against humans?
  16. Who owns information that is distributed online?
  17. What is more important: easy accessibility or privacy?
  18. Investigate the moral problems associated with AI.
  19. If a computer makes a critical mistake, whose fault is it?
  20. Discuss the importance of netiquette.
  21. How should tech companies deal with ethical problems?
  22. Can AI algorithms ensure ethical behavior? 
  23. Why do tech companies need ethics boards?
  24. Which ethical conflicts appear when using drones?
  25. Investigate racial bias in facial recognition systems.

🏅 Sports Ethics Topics for a Paper

Morality in sports is based on integrity, respect, responsibility, and fairness. Often, this puts athletes into a dilemma: do I want to be ethical, or do I want to win? Answering these questions is not always easy. The following list compiles sports topics for a research paper on ethics.

  1. What are moral complications when using enhancement drugs?
  2. Is gamesmanship unethical?
  3. How important is ethics in sports?
  4. Discuss the moral responsibilities of athletes.
  5. What are ethical reasons to pay college athletes?
  6. Investigate the ethical implications of kneeling for the national anthem.
  7. Can college sports and the principles of higher education go hand in hand?
  8. Investigate the sexist bias in sports.
  9. Was it selfish when the American female soccer team went to court to demand equal pay?
Thomas A. Edison quote.
  1. What moral obligations do universities have towards their athletes?
  2. When can you justify cheating?
  3. Concerning the environment, how can professional sports events be ethical?
  4. Which ethical issues do healthcare workers have concerning sportspeople? 
  5. Which moral duties do teams’ coaches have?
  6. Are the extremely high salaries of sports professionals justified?
  7. In 2003, the Olympics abolished the wild card system. Was that fair?
  8. Because of the Paralympics, disabled athletes cannot take part in the real Olympics. Is that discriminatory?
  9. Discuss how money influences the fairness of a sport.
  10. Debate if and how children are exploited to become elite athletes.
  11. Which moral duties should a good sport follow?
  12. How much should parents get involved in their child’s physical education?
  13. Investigate if everyday codes of ethics should apply to sports.
  14. Discuss the ethical implications of motorsports.
  15. Who is responsible if a player gets injured?
  16. Are referees always fair?

🧬 Bioethics Topics for an Essay

Bioethics comes into play when we talk about life and health. It expands from genetics to neurology and even plastic surgery. In the name of the common good, researchers often find themselves in conflicting positions. This makes bioethics an especially exciting topic to write about.

  1. Discuss the moral conflicts of genetic engineering. 
  2. What are the ethical responsibilities associated with using CRISPR? 
  3. Investigate the problems of stem cell research.
  4. When can humans be used for drug testing? 
  5. Should vaccinations be mandatory for everyone?
  6. Investigate the ethics that apply to a medical worker.
  7. Discuss the harmful effects of plastic surgery. 
  8. Should a person who is brain dead be kept alive?
  9. Is it just that medical care is linked to an individual’s ability to pay?
  10. Should everyone be an organ donor by default?
  11. What is more important: a person’s right to privacy or the information of at-risk relatives?
  12. Is prenatal invasive testing ethical?
  13. Should neuroenhancement drugs be legal?
  14. Discuss ethical conflicts concerning Disclosure and Barring Service.
  15. Is it ethical to improve memory functions with brain stimulation?
  16. Analyze the ethical issues concerning precision medicine.
  17. What are the problems of surrogacy? 
  18. Should medical personnel collect healthy tissues of a deceased person without their consent?
Bioethics is closely connected with the fields of technology, medicine, politics, philosophy, and law,
  1. What should be done with the child of a brain-dead pregnant woman?
  2. How important is a subject’s anonymity during research?
  3. Discuss the ethics of shared decision-making.
  4. How much responsibility do mentally challenged people carry for their actions?
  5. Was Sweden right not to impose strict lockdown rules during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  6. To what extent are businesses responsible for their employees’ health?
  7. Should universal healthcare be free?

🚓👮 Criminal Justice Ethics Topics to Write About

Law enforcers should always act ethically. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Police officers and attorneys often end up in morally ambiguous situations. In many cases, they don’t do what the public deems the right thing. Below are the examples of criminal justice ethics topics.

  1. When is it legitimate for a police officer to use violence?
  2. How can an officer remain impartial?
  3. Should law enforcement visibly wear guns in public? 
  4. How much force is too much?
  5. Investigate possible ethical implications associated with true crime podcasts.
  6. Should prostitution be legal in the US?
  7. How ethical is interrogation? 
  8. Can torture be justified?
  9. Discuss the ethical consequences of lying when working in criminal justice.
  10. Is working undercover deception? 
  11. Debate whether it is an American citizen’s moral duty to participate in jury duty.
  12. Should the police be allowed to access everyone’s data?
  13. Discuss the moral complications of “innocent until proven guilty.”
  14. Should convicted pedophiles be allowed to see their children?
  15. Can teaching ethics at schools prevent crime?
  16. Analyze ethical problems of the Stanford Prison Experiment.
  17. Should NATO have become involved in America’s Afghan war?
  18. What are the ethical implications of shooter drills at school?
  19. Was Edward Snowden morally in the wrong?
  20. How should we deal with child soldiers?
  21. Discuss if the prosecution of Julian Assange is justified.
  22. Examine the ethical problems of private prisons.
  23. What moral obligations should someone consider when granting prisoners the right to work?
  24. When is capital punishment justified?
  25. Is it ethical to incarcerate juvenile offenders? 

⚖️ Ethical Dilemma Topics to Write About

An ethical issue becomes a dilemma when different moral standards clash with each other. In this situation, it is impossible to find a path to an ethically permissible solution that is unambiguous. The following sample topics are a solid base to start a discussion on morals.

  1. Should parents watch over what their children do on the internet?
  2. Would you report an accident you caused if there are no witnesses?
  3. What should a doctor do if a patient refuses life-saving treatment for religious reasons? 
  4. Should you turn down a client if their political views do not match yours?
  5. Would you promote something you are not convinced of to get money?
  6. Should you lie to land a job that gets you out of poverty?
Ethical dilemmas.
  1. Your partner cheated on you. Now, you get the chance to take your revenge with someone you really like. Would you do it? 
  2. Should students use automated writing tools like free thesis generators, summarizers, and paraphrasers?
  3. Your teacher is continuously mocking your classmate. You are a teacher’s pet. Would you speak up?
  4. Your son likes to wear dresses. One day, he asks if he can wear one to school. Will you let him?
  5. You are very religious. Your daughter wants to get married to another woman and invites you to her wedding. What will you do?
  6. Prenatal testing showed that your unborn child has a disability. Would you terminate pregnancy?
  7. You are in a long-term relationship. Suddenly, your partner gets a job offer in another part of the world. What would you do?
  8. You have a terminal illness. This makes you a financial burden to your relatives. Are you obliged towards them to quit your treatment?
  9. You have a red and a blue candy bar. Blue is your favorite, but you also know that it’s your friend’s favorite. Will you give it to them?
  10. A friend asked you for a loan. Since then, they have not given you anything back. They are still not wholly stable financially. Will you ask them to return the money?
  11. Your grandma passed away and bequeathed her favorite mink coat to you. You are a vegan. What do you do?
  12. A few years ago, you borrowed a gun from a friend. Now, they ask for it back, but their mental state seems to be rapidly deteriorating. This makes you scared they are going to shoot someone, or themselves. What do you do?
  13. You find out that your friend cheats on their spouse. You are close friends with their family. Will you tell on them?
  14. For your birthday, your friend gave you a sweater they’ve made themselves. You think it’s ugly. Do you tell them?
  15. You are a vegan. Should you buy vegan products which are highly problematic to produce? 
  16. You are in a restaurant. Your order arrives too late. The waitress looks stressed. Will you make her take it back?
  17. You went to the store and bought a new, expensive item. The clerk gives you too much change. Do you give it back?
  18. You are walking with a friend and find $50 on the floor. Would you share it with them?
  19. Your child firmly believes in Santa Claus. One Christmas, they start suspecting that he is not real. What do you do? 

⭐ Top 10 Ethics Topics to Debate

  1. Is having pets ethical?
  2. Can eating meat be justified?
  3. Should we defund the police?
  4. Should atomic bombs be banned?
  5. Can discrimination be justified?
  6. Is it ethical to ask someone’s age?
  7. Should children get paid for chores?
  8. Is it unprofessional to send voice messages?
  9. Should children be allowed to vote?
  10. Should influencers promote products they don’t use?

😈 Ethical Questions to Debate

  1. Should there be any limitations to doctor and patient confidentiality?
  2. Should physician-assisted suicide be allowed?
  3. Can teenagers get plastic surgery?
  4. What to do when you find out that your relative has committed an offense?
  5. What to do when you see your friend cheating on the exam?
  6. Should sportsmen be paid more than teachers?
  7. Should gender quotas be used during parliamentary elections?
  8. Do companies have the right to collect information about their customers?
  9. Can politicians appeal to religious issues during electoral campaigns?
  10. Should fake news be censored in a democratic society?

We hope that in this list you’ve found the ethics topic that fits you the best. Good luck with your assignment!

Further reading:

🔍 References

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