Expository Prompts on Ethics

We each have a personal belief system that compels us to take action to promote or defend causes that we believe in. Use these expository prompts on ethics to stimulate your middle school and high school students to explain their stance.

Prompt 1:  In order to crack down on drug use and distribution in schools, many high schools have begun to conduct targeted searches of student lockers, backpacks and other personal properties. Keeping in mind that the Supreme Court has ruled these types of searches as constitutional, do you feel that these searches are a violation of student rights? Or do you think that since the school is ultimately responsible for the well-being of its students, they should have the right to conduct these searches in the effort of keeping the student body safe?

Prompt 2:  With more professional and college athletes being drug-tested, do you feel that high school athletes should be subjected to regular drug tests?

Prompt 3: Many great philosophers have likened war to being a cowardly way to face a problem. Do you agree with these philosophers? Why or why not?

Prompt 4:  In some parts of Australia, where the brush is dry, the punishment for throwing a lit match out of a car window can be as much as 10 years. Is that a fair sentence? Why or why not?

Prompt 5:  Should young children be allowed to play with toy guns or other violent toys? Does playing with these toys promote violent tendencies in children?

Prompt 6:  Should marijuana be legalized? Site your position and specific examples that support this decision. Simply “because I like it,” is not an example.

Prompt 7: You have no money for food or medical care for your young child. He’s ill and in dire need of medicine. Would you feel justified in stealing to save your child’s life?

Prompt 8: While playing baseball near the school’s parking lot (after being warned not to), you accidentally break a car window. You don’t know who the car belongs to. What would you do?

Prompt 9: Animals are often used in the medical community to test for a cure in order to save people’s lives. Should animals be used in this way? If not, how should the medical community test its drugs or other cures before using them on people?

Prompt 10: Your best friend is running for class president. You catch her defacing and stealing her opponent’s signs. What would you do?

Prompt 11:  Your best friend has started bullying another student. She’s popular and you like being in her crowd. Would you do or say something to her? Would you tell on her?

Prompt 12:  Would you tell if you saw a friend cheating on a test?

Prompt 13:  At a party someone starts telling racial jokes. Do you say something to stop it, do you walk away or do you remain quiet? Why did you chose your answer?

Prompt 14:  Is it ever acceptable for a teenager to have plastic surgery just because she doesn’t like the way something looks on her (not for a medical reason)?

Prompt 15: You saw your brother commit a serious crime. Would you turn him in? If a reward was offered, would you collect it?

Prompt 16: You found a $50 bill lying on the floor right by the movie theater concession stand. You have no idea who it belongs to. What do you do?

Prompt 17: Do you think the punishment for people who are in a position of authority (such as teachers, coaches, priests) should be harsher than it is for the regular population if they commit a crime as a sexual predator? Why or why not?

Prompt 18: You become an attorney and start out as a public defender. The case that lands on your desk is one of an accused serial killer. In your heart, and from the evidence, you know he is guilty. Yet it is your sworn duty to give him the best defense you possibly can. You do so and you win. The accused killer is set free. He kills again almost immediately. How do you reconcile your conscience with your sworn duty? Do you take pride in knowing you did your job to the best of your ability or do you lose sleep because you even though you did the right thing, it ended up feeling wrong?

Prompt 19: Is it ever okay to lie? Or should “honesty is the best policy” be the only way we live our lives?

Prompt 20: A teacher was fired recently for posting racially charged comments on her Facebook page that were considered “offensive, disrespectful and insensitive” by the school district where she worked. Should a teacher be fired or suspended for Facebook posts that are controversial? Does the school district have a right to edit what a teacher says or does the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech take precedence?  

Prompt 21: You see your best friend’s boyfriend at the mall in the food court with another girl, whom you don’t know and have never seen before. What do you do? Do you confront him, tell your best friend, or do nothing?