Throughout this course we discuss the lives of some pretty morally impressive people, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Socrates, John Stuart Mill, and many others.  While it’s true that no one is morally perfect, all of these people strove to be ethical and contribute to the betterment of their communities.  The “Ethical Life” project will ask you to think about ways that you might make a moral impact on your own lived world or reflect on how you have been impacted by others.


The project consists of thinking about five dimensions of your life and how you might develop ethical relations within those areas.  The five aspects are self, family, local community, nation, and world.  Complete ONE prompt in each of the categories below.  Your reflection in each area is worth six points, so the project overall is worth thirty.


Follow the directions for each area below.  Grades will be assigned for completion, so be certain that you address fully each set of instructions.  Incomplete answers receive no credit.


If you decide to do the “art” options for the areas, you may upload a photo of your finished project to demonstrate completion.





Address one of the following:


In Chapter 3 we study the psychology of moral development, or human growth in understanding what makes actions right or wrong and the complexity of ethical thinking.  Using Kohlberg or Gillgan’s model of moral development as a framework, discuss what stage of moral development best describes how you think about ethics.  Are you motivated to “move up” the ladder of development? If so, discuss one way you might develop.  If not, explain why you are satisfied.




Virtue Ethics argues that we should seek to become better people so that we do the right thing as a matter of habit.  That is, our character drives how we act.  All of us have a moral character made up of virtues and vices.  Discuss what virtues you think are important to develop and vices it is important to eliminate and explain why you think those are key character points.  Another important idea from virtue ethics is the idea that happiness depends on being a good person.  Discuss a way in which being virtuous might make your life happier.




Create a comic strip illustrating three ways in which improving your critical thinking skills might help you in the future.




Address one of the following:


In his Meditations, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius devotes an entire chapter to expressing his gratitude to everyone who taught him something important about life.  Unsurprisingly, many of the people he thanked were members of his family.  Think about people in your family who have made an ethical difference in your life (e.g., taught you something about right and wrong) and draw a “family tree” showing your relation to those people and expressing how they made a difference.




Write a brief explanation of a family relationship you would like to improve and explain why doing so is ethically important.




Research a local community service organization.  The organization may be secular (non-religious) or religious.  Write a brief report on the organization, including:

  1. The specific mission of the group.
  2. What kinds of activities the organization does to further its mission.
  3. How the group is set up (organized) and funded.

Discuss whether the group is one you would support.  If so, why?  If not, why not?




Come up with a community service organization you think your community needs.  A good place to start is to think about problems faced by your community (e.g., poverty, feeding shut-in elderlies, lack of safe play areas for children—these are obvious examples and you should come up with your own).  Explain why the community needs your organization, then address the following:

  1. The specific mission of the group.
  2. The kinds of activities your organization will do to further its mission.
  3. How the group should be set up and funded.




John F. Kennedy Jr. once said that Americans should “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  Kennedy suggests that we have obligations to our nation.  Make a list of moral responsibilities you believe we have to our country and explain them.







Many democratic nations around the world require voting instead of allowing voting for citizens.  That is, citizens are required by law to vote in elections and are fined if they don’t.  Here in the United States, citizens are allowed but not compelled to vote.  Research “compulsory voting” and discuss whether you think it is an ethical practice.




David Hume (a famous Scottish philosopher) once pointed out that we tend to ignore the problems faced by people who aren’t close to us (emotionally or geographically) and over-emphasize personal issues.  In other words, we’re likely to be morally blinded to problems in other parts of the world—or just not care.  Research one of the following global issues and discuss one way you think it can be improved.  Also, talk about something you might be able to do to help with the problem:

  1. Global warming
  2. Sex trafficking
  3. Sweat shop labor/unfair labor practices
  4. Slavery (yes, it still exists—even here in the United States)
  5. Outsourcing jobs
  6. International drug trafficking
  7. Access to health care resources




Make a collage addressing the same.

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