Aim: To have informed opinions on various ethical subjects, to engage in debate and to respect all points of view. Taken from the BB Seniors Challenge Plus Pro Pack, Life Skills Project L-4
• DVD player
• TV projector
• Flip chart & pens
Taster 1 - Movie Time
Aim: To watch a film and consider the ethical issues.
Check the local cinema listings and find a current film (or past one being re-shown, more often in a smaller, specialist cinema) with ethical issues. Alternatively, you could buy or rent a DVD of a similar film to show on a 1V or through a projector at your own meeting place. Drinks and popcorn etc. could be arranged during the film and then have the discussion afterwards over coffee/hot chocolate etc.
Here are some suggested recent titles with ethical issues worthy of debate......
Film Rating Time Additional Information Topic
An Inconvenient U 1 hr Good website with follow up ideas Climate Change
Truth 40 mins at m.an-inconvenient-truth.com
Bamako PG 1 hr Film backed by Christian Aid. Developed world’s
58 mins Good background info and treatment of Africa and
interviews at it’s imposition of free
www.bamakothemovle.com. trade on the continent
Bowling for 15 2 hrs Gun Culture
Columbine 5 mins
Black Gold U 1 hr Film supported by Oxfam. Fair trade (or lack thereof)
22 mins Follow up activities and campaign in the coffee business
info at www,blackgoIdmovie.com. worldwide
Blood Diamond 15 2 hrs Ethics of the diamond
23 mine trading industry and the
people who suffer as a
result of western
Bruce Almighty & 12 1 hr Explores various issues about what
42 mins people would do with God’s powers
& Evan Almighty PG 1 hr if they had them.
Goodbye Bafana 15 1 hr Apartheid and racism in South Africa
Sicko 12A 1 hr Availability of free healthcare
Super Size Me 12A 1 hr Fast food marketing and its links to
40 mins poverty and health issues in
• What was the plot summa’?
• Who were the key characters?
• How did the film make you feel?
Watch the film before showing it to the group and think about some discussion questions.
Tips / Advice:
• It will depend on the screening time as to what time you go but make sure it doesn’t finish too late so that you have enough time to discuss the issues that were raised — you could go to a coffee shop to undertake this chat.
• The above films are just a few examples — this list will go out of date so keep your eyes open for current film reviews in the press and choose an up-to-date one.
Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
• Ensure that the film’s rating is appropriate for those watching it.
• Some of these films deal with graphic or challenging stories.
Taster 2 - The Cave Explorers
Aim: To consider our own value positions
Like scientists, philosophers use experiments to test their theories. Unlike scientists, their experiments do not require sophisticated laboratories, white-robed technicians or even rodents. They occur in the mind, and start with What if.’ These thought experiments” help philosophers clanfy their understanding of certain concepts and intuitions. In the field of ethics though, experimenters typically present a dilemma, examine the most popular “intuitive” response and then show the implications for real-world issues.
One of the most famous thought experiments in ethics is the runaway trolley”. It aims to clarify how we should distinguish right from wrong. Here is the scenario with two well-known variations.
1. The Runaway Trolley Car
A runaway trolley car is hurtling down a track. In its path are five people who will definitely be killed unless you, a bystander, flip a switch which will divert it onto another track, where it will kill one person.
• Should you flip the switch?
• How many people would need to be on that main track for you to change your mind?
2. The Fat Man and the Trolley Car
The runaway trolley car is hurtling down a track where it will kill five people. You are standing on a bridge above the track and, aware of the imminent disaster, you decide to jump on the track to block the trolley car. Although you will die, the five people will be saved.
Just before your leap, you realise that you are too light to stop the trolley. Next to you, a fat man is standing on the very edge of the bridge. He would certainly block the trolley, although he would undoubtedly die from the impact. A small nudge and he would fall right onto the track below. No one would ever know. Should you push him?
Research shows that everyone (“without hesitation”) would choose to flip the switch in the first trolley case, but that most of us would be appalled at the idea of pushing the fat man.
• Why is it acceptab!e to sacrifice the one person in The Runaway Trolley Car but not in The Fat Man case?
• Can it ever be morally acceptable to kill an innocent person if that is the only way to save many?
• Should some actions such as deliberately killing innocent people against their wishes ever be done?
• How can those who vote to flick the switch but not to push the fat man explain this apparent discrepancy?
3. The Cave Explorers
An enormous rock falls and blocks the exit of a cave you and five other tourists have been exploring. Fortunately, you spot a hole elsewhere and decide to let “Big Jack’ out first. But Big Jack, a man of generous proportions, gets stuck in the hole. He cannot be moved and there is no other way out.
The high tide is rising and, unless you get out soon, everyone but Big Jack (whose head is sticking out of the cave) will inevitably drown. Searching through your backpack, you find a stick of dynamite. It will not move the rock, but will certainly blast Big Jack out of the hole. Big Jack, anticipating your thoughts, pleads for his life. He does not want to die, but neither do you and your four companions.
The majority of people are not willing to push the fat man off the bridge, but are willing to blast him out of a hole to save five people.
• Should you blast Big Jack out?
• If the roles were reversed, what would you advise your trapped companions to do?
• What are the differences between scenario 2 and 3? Is it that you are trapped and selfpreservation prevails?
Whatever our views, these experiments encourage us to examine our moral beliefs and intuitions and, perhaps, to uncover some inconsistencies in our thinking, e.g. do you illegally download music but would never consider stealing from a shop? Does a person’s right to life require us to make great personal sacrifices? If so, should we donate far more to humanitarian aid? Is them a moral difference between killing someone and letting that person die? When does the end justify the means? Are them actions we should never perform, whatever the consequences?
Christian Faith - Do Not Judge Others
Aim: To think about how we unfairly judge other people.
In reflecting on our own values there is a need to take care that judgements are not and that we should look at ourselves first.
Show some pictures of celebrities from recent news stories and ask the group to say what they think about them.
Read Matthew 7:1-2.
• Have there been any occasions when you have judged someone else?
• With the benefit of hindsight what effect do you think that judgement had on that person?
• Has there ever been a time when you feel someone has judged you?
• How did you feel and how did you respond when that happened?
• Have your opinions changed over time?
• Have you judged someone else unfairly?
• What is God saying to you about how you treat and judge others?
mink about the times when you may have judged people perhaps unfairly and seek God’s leading to help you think positively first before making any kind of judgment about anyone else.
Tips / Advice:
• Use an appropriate accessible version of the Bible, e.g. The Message, Youth Bible etc.
Project - What Do I Think about . . . .?
Aim: To communicate an ethical debate.
This can be undertaken over a period of time through times of discussion, debate, film making or presentation and below are some ideas you could use — choose one topic that you feel is relevant and meaningful to you. In each of the topics try to look at what the Bible teaches. It is interesting to find out how the Bible can be used to justify some quite opposite ideas.
• Animal Ethics Do animals have or need rights? Is animal life raw material for human consumption or is it of the same value as human life?
• Capital Punishment Is it ever justified? Is all life sacred and the death penalty state murder? Are some crimes so terrible that only the ultimate sanction will do? Is there conflict between the Old and New Testaments? How does this fit into the Christian ideas of justice and forgiveness?
• Drink Driving You might never drink and drive yourself, but would you go in a car if the driver had been drinking? Think of the rainy night, you’ve missed the last bus and it’s a three mile walk. Your friend who has been drinking at the local pub offers you a lift home — do you accept? Think of all the possible consequences for accepting/not accepting the lift.
• Euthanasia What would you do if someone you loved asked you to help them die? Is euthanasia the compassionate answer to terminal illness? Is all life sacred or does it depend on the quality of life? If human life is made in God’s image what does this mean?
• War Is it ever right to go to war? Is there a moral way to conduct war? Is there such thing as a just war? Which present day conflicts do you think could be defined as just wars?
There are many other topics that individuals or the group may consider to have an ethical dimension and there may be topical issues that can be investigated including e.g. lying, nuclear weapons, modem slavery, torture.
Remember to consider the topic from different standpoints. Are you able to argue a view that you yourself don’t hold. Have a go; it really makes you think of all the issues.
There are four stages to the project:
• Research the issue(s) It is most important that whatever topics are chosen sufficient research is undertaken so that you are having informed debate.
• Debate the Issue(s)
• Communicate the debate It’s important to choose an appropriate media to achieve this.
• Challenge ourselves & others There are very few absolutes in life, and it’s important that we are prepared to challenge each other’s opinions and be willing to reflect ourselves.
Tips / Advice:
• Be prepared to challenge your own and other people’s opinions and beliefs.
• Go to www.bibIegateway.com or use a concordance to find key words or topics in the Bible.
For full details see the BB Seniors Challenge Plus Pro Pack, Life Skills Project L-4