2019 Big Ethical Question Slam Questions


A few comments about the questions. We generally have a cut-off at 20 questions. We try to keep editing to a minimum. Hard to do if there is a long story attached. We also know many of you are not experts on several of the topics. Sometimes, however, you and your teammates are experts. Because of the random question selection during the competition, your team may not get the questions you are best suited, or would like, to answer. One of the Slam's many goals is to encourage teams to talk afterward--and to continue talking. On Slam night, we are coming together to launch ethics discussions and to give your team an opportunity to amicably share your ideas with other philosophy enthusiasts on other teams and in the audience.  

So, there you are. And here they are--the 2019 Slam Questions. Thanks to the Slam fans who sent them in.    

1. Should you be fired in response to a social media outrage? 

2. A Prostitution Diversion Initiative run by the Dallas Police Department involves a DNA cheek swab collected from women at risk for violent crime to obtain a pre-emptive biometric for post-mortem identification. In general, those given the swab supported the program, but voiced concern for law enforcement collecting DNA. Is it ethical for law enforcement to establish such programs? If so, why? If not, why?  

3. How should we identify and distinguish individual responsibility from collective responsibility in the recently publicized college admissions cheating scandal?      

4. What morally entitles us to have free speech? Do we also have a moral duty to listen if we live in a democracy? Are there limits to a duty to listen?   

5. How and what should define a slur? When should it stop being one? Who should get to remodel or refashion a slur? 

6. Does teaching ethics do any good? 

7. What should we not automate? Should there be some occupations or parts of human life where Artificial Intelligence and the use of robots are prohibited? 

8.  I was in a coffee shop recently. There were 3 people in scrubs at the next table. They were talking about a patient case. I heard everything they said. I asked a few physician friends about this. They said they sometimes tell their partners and spouses about interesting cases. Are any or all of these examples unethical? Why or why not? 

 9. Is there an ethical role for the public expression of moral regret by scientists whose work leads to harmful consequences, some of them unforeseen? If so, what should that mean?  

10. The renters in one of the apartment units I live in and own, have always paid on time. They are currently two days behind. The man living there has just been convicted of two felonies. His girlfriend and their two-month old baby also live there. She has no known way of paying the rent owed. I feel bad because of the baby. When is it wrong to evict my renters? Do you have any ideas for someone who wants to be a moral landlord?  
11. What do we owe the persons we create? Can we wrong those persons by selecting their genetic traits? It’s not only that it might be wrong to select the child’s sex. It’s also whether this ability would wrong the child?

12. It seems to me the gig economy has a lot of moral questions to answer for. How can we answer and ethically respond to the worst of them? 

13. In my church, and in other religions too, lending at a high interest rate, is immoral. Should colleges establish services for students and families advising them about moral issues surrounding student debt? If they did so, how should they go about it?  

14. Do jurors have an ethical responsibility to prevent deadlock? 

15. If wonder and awe are moral emotions, and good for each one and all of us, why shouldn’t we create and allow people to take drugs to feel a sense of wonder and awe?

16.  My neighbor has a dog. He is a bad pet parent. The dog has to stay outside while he is at work. He doesn’t take the dog for walks and has told me he can’t afford the dog’s food. I have urged him to give the dog to another owner. He says the dog is family. Should we offer subsidies and financial support for pet owners who can’t afford them but are attached or actually need the pet? 

17. I am studying to be a teacher. The stuff about teachers on social media and TV show me what NOT to be and how NOT to act. What are the moral attributes of a good teacher?   

18.  When, if ever, is it morally permissible to lie to a person with dementia? Does it depend on who you are? A family member? A physician? An aide? 

19. I would like to be a socially responsible marijuana consumer. Like a fair trade coffee buyer. In a semi-legal sector like marijuana, if I request an ethical product from an ethical supplier what does that look like?  

20.  Under what circumstances are you obligated to disclose the mistakes and errors of certain professionals? Two examples:  Physician? Librarian? How are they morally different?