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Religious Studies: Unit 2 - Area of Study 1: Ethical Method in Pluralistic Society

Study Design Outcomes

In this area of study students are introduced to the nature of ethical decision-making in pluralist society.

Ethical decision-making refers to the selection of methods and principles which guide practical moral judgment. Students explore the concepts underpinning ethical decision-making and various influences on it. Various approaches to ethical decision-making are discussed as well as theories derived from these approaches. For example, one approach may involve a conception of right and wrong as subjective, from which relativist theories of ethics are derived, which in turn inform practical moral judgment. Another approach may be to see right and wrong as absolutes, from which various normative theories are derived.

Key Knowledge 

  • Understanding of concepts used in ethics and ethical decision-making, such as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’
  • The way competing ideas, values and principles in pluralist societies influence ethical decision-making
  • Factors involved in the process of ethical decision-making, such as reasoning, conscience, intuition, common sense, assumptions, authorities, world views, values, ethical principles and the competing rights and responsibilities of individuals, groups and society
  • A variety of approaches to ethical decision-making and the theories that arise from these, including those that appeal to religious, philosophical, scientific, political, economic or other authority, to rules and principles, and to assessing consequences, motivation or intention.

Key Skills 

  • Define and use correctly, concepts associated with ethics and ethical decision-making
  • Explain the ideas, values and principles of pluralist societies that influence ethical decision-making
  • Outline the role of various factors in the process of ethical decision-making
  • Explain a variety of approaches to and theories of ethical decision-making
  • Interpret and synthesise source material.

Religion and Society Study Design

Ethical Authorities


Catholic Essentials - Magisterium 

Catholic Social Teachings

Caritas - Catholic Social Teachings

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Short Video on the UDHRs

The UDHRs Articles

Concise version of UDHRs

History of UDHRs (Video - 9.30)

The Goldern Rule

Resource booklet on Inter-faith Dialogue and the Goldern Rule.There is now an Australian version of the Goldern Rule!

Catholic Perspectives

What does the Catholic Church say about your Ethical Issue?

Use the index in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to look up your topic / value / issue, etc. There are a number of copies kept in the Library at 238.2CAT.

Search the Online Catechism here. 

Scroll down to: Part Three: Life in Christ (1691-2550).

The Beatitudes


Primacy of Conscience 

Pope Francis Sunday Angelus 2013-06-30

"So we also must learn to listen more to our conscience. Be careful, however: this does not mean we ought to follow our ego, do whatever interests us, whatever suits us, whatever pleases us. That is not conscience. Conscience is the interior space in which we can listen to and hear the truth, the good, the voice of God. It is the inner place of our relationship with Him, who speaks to our heart and helps us to discern, to understand the path we ought to take, and once the decision is made, to move forward, to remain faithful."

Francis emphasizes a core teaching of the Catholic tradition: this is the sacred obligation of all Christians to follow their informed consciences.

Mercy Health Bulletins 
Contains Catholic related perspectives on a number of Heath topics, including euthanasia, IVF, cloning, etc. 

Exploring Values

It's a good idea to determine and explore what your values are before makng ethical decisions. Below are a list of websites that offer suggestions, you can add to these if you wish. 

1. Watch the short video and read the article here: MindTools

2. List your values, those that resonate with you.

3. Determine your top 10, then prioritorise these into orer of importance for yourself. 

Researching your Ethical Issue


New Internationalist Magazine

English - Issues Research (LibGuides Page)


Issues in Society Books: These are an excellent resource. 

Some topics are available as online ebooks through our Library Catalogue at school. You may save the ebook onto your computer to read at home. 

Issues in Society Links 


Ethics by John Roth (Reference Volumes on Ethics)

Resources for World Religions

Select a world religion. 
1. What are five core values for your religion?
2. What evidence do you have for the these values? E.g. Beatitudes for Christianity.
3. What stance does this religion take on your ethical issue? Explain why.  

Cultural Differences

A number of cultures in the world have different values to our culture.

What happens when we disagree on some issues? Do we have a right to influence another culture?

Can you think of historical examples when one culture has influenced another with good intentions but the outcome has been tragic for some?

Watch the 'It's a Girl" documentary trailer below and accompanying TED Talk (11 mins).

Finish the conflict of values:

Cultural Differences VS ________________

Ethics Resources

St James Ethics Centre: What is Ethics?

BBC Religion and Ethics (UK)
Current ethics in the media.

BBC Ethics Guides (UK)
An excellent breakdown of major ethical issues. 

BBC: An Introduction to Ethics (UK)

Harvard University's Justice with Michael Sandel 
Introduction to Ethics - includes the trolley scenario and the lifeboat. 

Ethics Resource Centre Glossary


Articles Concerning Ethics

St James Ethics Centre: Ethics Articles

Santa Clara University: Ethics Articles

The Guardian: Ethics

New York Times: Ethics Articles

Human Rights in Australia 
Articles concerning a number of ethical issues. 

Gattaca Resources

Genoism: "a fictional prejudice that exists in a genetically determined future".

Gattaca Scripts

Student Notes on Gattaca

Gattaca+powerpoint from Chantelleba


Opinion Pieces 

There's no one gene for the human spirit: Gattaca: The Ethical Dilemma of Science 

Gattaca from Philosohical Films

An Analysis of the Ethical Issues in the film Gattaca from Yahoo Voices 

Study Guide

Study Guide 2 (only the first 10 pages are available)


Ethical Issues

Religion and Peace: A Just War

Just War (BBC) 

Basics of Christian Just War Theory

Just War Theory (Philosophy of Religion)

Just War Theory (BBC Bitesize) 



Smacking Ban

Rules of War: Chemical Weapons

Spy Leak

Drone Dilemma

Government Secrets

Animal Testing 

Logging War



Pros ad Cons of Ethical Issues (ProConorg)

Topics At A Glance: Dangerous Dogs Laws (SBS)

In the beginning ...

"An un-examined life is not worth living." Socrates (460 BC)

"What ought one to do?"

In the library

Approaches to Ethics

Branches of Ethics (Philosophy Basics)

Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making by Santa Clara University 
Includes Utalitarian, Rights,Fairness or Justice, Common Good and Virtue Approach.   


Utalitarian Approach

Calculating Consequences

Utilitarianism Notes


Subjectivism (BBC)


Cultural Relativism


Ethical Nihilism

Situation Ethics

Situation Ethics (BBC)