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

What is Ethics?

There are cultural differences in moral behaviour, and situations, actions etc described as good, bad, ought, wicked, right, wrong result from different actions in different cultures.

Ethics is an attempt to systematise reflections on moral behaviour.

There are two main categories of ethics: deontological and consequentialist.

Deontological ethics (deon = Greek for ‘duty’) arise from an absolute set of values that apply in all circumstances. For example, the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching that abortion is always wrong.

Consequentialist ethics arise from the belief that there are no absolutes, and that the likely outcomes in any situation should be calculated. Benefit and harm are weighed, and the best situation is opted for.

Activity Question:

Consider the claim it is always wrong to tell lies from the point of view of a) a deontologist, and b) a consequentialist.


 Ethical decision making


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NOT RATED You make it sound wrong to say it's wrong. 23-01-09 22:21
The Catholic Church has a reason to say it is wrong. If you talk to any adult who has had an abortion says that it has hurt them emotionally and physically. Science has proven that life starts at conceiving. That at that moment the egg is different from the parent and individual life is formed. If we can speak for animals that do not speak, and children who can't speak, what difference is it to speak for the unborn, who have no voice?
There is nothing moral in killing innocent life.
NOT RATED Christine 24-02-11 00:08
The example re RC church teaching: RC teaching is that the taking of human life is wrong; abortion always involves the taking of life, therefore abortion is deemed to be wrong except in extreme cases. Your statment fails to truthfully state that church's teaching

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Try it out

Do you believe that there are some things that are always right or wrong?

Share your ideas about what these matters might be. Can you agree within your discussion group?