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Applied Ethics

Applied Ethics is a course that has been designed for local humanist groups, but it can also be used for general purposes of exploring the ideas within Applied Ethics. This course takes a five part look at differing approaches to moral thinking and action throughout history.

This course poses challenging questions on a variety of issues. The resources needed for running the course are minimal.

The five sessions within the course are:

  • How should we think about ethical questions?
  • Concern for Others – Charity, Justice and Equality
  • Concern for Others – Animals, the Environment, and Future Generations
  • Sexual Relations
  • Is Life Sacred? Abortion and Euthanasia

Some definitions:

‘Ethics’: thinking about how we ought to live, about how we are to decide what are right and wrong actions, good and bad ways of living.

‘Applied ethics’: ethical thinking which focuses on specific kinds of dilemmas and decisions which typically arise in practice, and looks for practical conclusions about these.

The term ‘ethics’ is also used in a narrower sense to refer to the codes of conduct of particular professions or spheres of activity, e.g. ‘medical ethics’, ‘business ethics’. Reflection on these is part of, but not the whole of, applied ethics.

The terms ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ are often used interchangeably, but in popular usage the word ‘morality’ tends to carry with it certain associations such as a negative preoccupation with condemning certain kinds of activity, particularly sexual activity, as ‘immoral’.

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Download the notes for course leaders (PDF)

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