2018 Slam Questions

1. Is it ethical to prefer certain nonhuman animals over others? If so, what moral criteria should we rely on to determine these preferences?

2. How should we decide whether something an individual has accomplished is an achievement? If something an individual has achieved results in very harmful consequences, should it be considered an achievement?

3. On what moral grounds can universities defend accepting many more graduate students in certain fields than their job markets can sustain? What are the moral arguments about training people for jobs that do not exist?

4. Does Apple have a moral obligation to make the iPhone less harmful and addictive?

5. Is it possible to be a decent or good gentrifier? I can’t afford to live in the pricey apartments in the city where I live or houses in the suburbs. I can only afford places that will displace others. What should I do?

6. Must breast feeding be regarded solely as a maternal obligation?

7. We have codes of ethics in my company for individual decision-making. Shouldn't we adopt codes for A.I. algorithms currently used in policing and law enforcement? What ethical guidelines are essential?

8. I have been a nurse for over 20 years. One of the most difficult situations is when there are cross-cultural conflicts. Recently, a woman from Taiwan entered the hospital and was diagnosed with an untreatable brain tumor. The attending physician, in the presence of her family (also from Taiwan), shared this news with her. Everyone was understandably anguished. The family was also distressed the doctor chose to tell the patient about her condition, as the family did not want her to know. How can we use ethics training to best deal with cultural conflicts such as this one?   

9. Suppose you are a famous ethicist and have a controversial view. Your view has led to a loss of credibility, and even an audience that you are trying to reach. In short, bad consequences. Wouldn’t it make moral sense to refrain from defending those views publicly if this action led to more beneficial consequences?

10. Are superheroes morally responsible for the harm they do to innocent bystanders and to property in their fights with evil?  

11.  What should I rely on from ethical theories and practice to determine if a policy at my high school is fair?

12.  In our media-saturated society, isn’t it now morally wrong to continue to search for jurors “who know nothing” for high profile cases?

13. My best friend is an actor. I go to his performances when he gets parts. All of them are pretty awful. Is it unethical for me to fake admiration for my actor friend’s performances?

14. My neighbor in the apartment building where I live has a service dog. The apartment owners do not allow pets. I have been suspicious about her exemption from the rule. I decided to do a little surveillance—and my suspicions have been verified. What should I do?   

15. To enhance test passing rates, several school systems today devote both resources and time to test preparation--in the process narrowing the curriculum for children to including only those subjects tested. This is legal. Shouldn’t it be unethical? When teachers are enrolled in an unethical system, where fulfillment of their responsibilities requires them to harm their students, when do they owe it to themselves and to their students to refuse?

16. Is it ever ethical, and under what circumstances, for an elected official and a lobbyist to be friends?

17. What are your moral responsibilities if you are going to join a movement that has begun online and participate in hashtag activism?

18. What attributes or virtues should an ethical stand-up comedian have?

19. Where and what should be the ethical boundary between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation?

20. If a drug dealer knowingly sells drugs laced with fentanyl and is arrested, should they be charged with attempted murder?


Questions #19 and #20 come from the 2018 event of A2Ethics' Sister City in Slamdom: Winnipeg, Manitoba. The superhero question is a spin-off from our friends at the University of North Carolina's Parr Center for Ethics talk by Philosophy Outreach Director Steve Schwartzer, "The Challenges of Superhero Ethics."