Year 11 General Unit 2, Mod 1 - Living a Good Life

Challenges people encounter when dealing with moral and ethical issues

What is the meaning of Moral and Ethical


Morality is concerned with what is good or right conduct. To do something that is moral is to do the good or right thing. For instance, someone might say, ‘I felt morally bound not to accept the extra pay when I didn’t really earn it.’ Most societies provide guidance about what is considered the right thing to do through laws or accepted standards of behaviour. Attitudes change however and what is acceptable can also change.

Ethics refers to a system or set of moral principles by which human actions may be judged as good or bad or right or wrong. For instance, Business ethics refers to a set of accepted practices or moral standards that businesses abide by like dealing honestly with customers and fair wages

Changing Standards

It was once acceptable to smoke in enclosed public spaces like restaurants. Now it is unacceptable. 

Concern for Good

Below are examples of how people show their concern

  • Take a stand on human rights issues where these are being violated.
  • Ensure the protection of the unborn.
  • Promote the fair treatment of others.
  • Remedy unjust discrimination.
  • Ensure that the needs of refugees, the hungry and those without access to proper medical care are provided for.
  • Protect the rights of the unemployed. Care for the needs of people with disabilities.
  • Work against political persecution in the world.
  • Achieve freedom for ‘prisoners of conscience’.
  • Encourage healthy life styles.
  • Discourage domestic violence.

Moral and Ethical Issues

Moral or ethical choices occur all the time in private and in society, choices can be about how another person gets treated, who gets what and when.

Societies also have to make moral or ethical choices. These may be about how groups or individuals in society get treated, like prisoners for instance. They may involve the allocation of resources, or who pays tax and how much. They could also be about the behaviour of the society, such as the decision to go to war.

Moral or ethical issues are often complex and challenging. Often such choices have competing and conflicting elements. There may be pressure to act in one way or another. There may also be good reasons to make choices that are the opposite of each other.

Finally, what is the good or right thing to do is not always obvious, and doing what is good may not be easy. Some form of pain, suffering or loss may result. 

Lawful but still immoral

Sometimes the law allows certain conduct which may still be immoral (depending on circumstances).

Within business this occurs in such areas as: