University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE

Ethics Toolkit

Decision making and reaching ethical conclusions

There is no single way in which ethical debates about bioethics can be unambiguously resolved to reach firm decisions. Ethical conclusions are valid if:

  1. they are based on reason;
  2. they are based within a well established ethical framework and
  3. they rest on a reasonable level of consensus arising from genuine debate.

(Revd Prof Michael Reiss, 2003)

This is different from the more usual scientific debate where reason holds sway; in ethical debate reason alone is insufficient. For example, reason cannot decide between an ethical system which looks only at the consequences of actions and another which considers certain actions right or wrong whatever the consequences.


We live in a multicultural society and in any class there will be students from different cultures with different takes on moral values and ethical arguments. So there will plenty of opportunity for debate.

Debate will help you practice your arguments and develop listening skills. To write a good essay in an exam you not only need to put forward your argument, but to justify it by linking the backing evidence to your claim and presenting counter arguments to counteract any opposition.

Have you tried the BEEP Online Discussion?


To reach a conclusion consensus is needed but this does not mean that the majority win as in a vote; we need to take into account minority interests especially those who cannot speak for themselves such as children, the mentally infirm and animals.

 Designing Arguments


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Should calves be taken from their mothers before weaning to provide more milk for people?

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