Many of us will study ethics during our team in religious education and school, but beyond that few of us really have much of an opinion on deeper ethical questions. For me this was very much the case until I reached college, where I was taught by the brilliant Professor Harvey Shapiro. During our politics classes the professor would often bring up these poignant ethical questions and ask us which we landed on them. Usually we have an instant response to such questions but once another angle is presented to us things can change.
Whilst many think that opinions on ethical questions are best left to the experts, the reality is that thinking about them is something which we should all be doing.
Helps With Decision Making
Ethical questions are no doubt the hardest to get to the bottom of, and that is because we have to wrestle between heart and head, weighing up all angles of a very tough problem. There is also the fact that when it comes to ethics there are very rarely correct answers, just strong opinions. In thinking about such questions and trying to reach conclusions to them, we can actually do a great deal of good for ourselves. In fact these kind of questions seriously help us when it comes to decision making in other areas of our lives. Decisions are about weighing things up and getting to a single point or decision.
You will usually find that any opinion which you have on an ethical question is contested by someone else. This could be someone that you know, it could be someone you have never met, but there is always someone with a different viewpoint. Assuming that the debate is healthy, this is the perfect way for you to learn how to have a good argument and how to frame your points. In doing this you are greatly helping with your communication skills, learning how to listen and how to speak in a clearer and better way.
Forming Your Character
What many of you may not realize is that the side on which we fall when it comes to ethical questions is often based on the kind of character which we have. When certain topics are presented your own empathy may push you to lean to one side or another, equally when it comes to other questions you may find that your stubbornness pushes you to another side. In the same way that our answers to these questions shows who we are, the thought process which we take to get to the answer often shapes who we are. And so when you pose these tough questions to yourself, you are in fact developing as a character as you explore the issues and try to figure out where you land on them.
As you can see, these tough ethical questions are about far more than what you learn in school, they also have a role to play in who we are.
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