University of Kansas, Fall 2004
Philosophy 160: Introduction to Ethics

The three areas of ethics

Classify each statement as one of applied ethics (A), normative ethics (O), or meta-ethics (M):

statement A, O, or M?
1 We shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. A
2 As long as you respect others’ rights, it’s o.k. to do whatever you want. O
3 There is no universal right or wrong; in every case, what is right or wrong is determined by the surrounding culture. M
4 Subliminal advertising is immoral. A
5 Our genes determine our values. M
6 It’s o.k. to force children to go to school until they’re 16. A
7 You should always act in a way in which it would be o.k. for everyone to act. O
8 An act is wrong if and only if it is prohibited by God. O
9 Morality is based on the will of God. M
10 Abortion is immoral except in extreme and unusual circumstances.  
11 People’s moral judgments are a function of their economic class.  
12 In any situation, you ought to do whatever will advance your interests the most.  
13 A company’s financial officers should not invest speculatively with the money in their employees’ company-managed pension fund.  
14 It was wrong of Richard Nixon to order the Watergate break-in.  
15 When people say politicians are immoral, it just means the person they voted for lost.  
16 An act is wrong if and only if it would be allowed by the rules that everyone would agree on, if everyone could meet and agree on rules that would be mutually advantageous.  
17 Dishonesty is the only sin. Anything not dishonest is fine.  
18 People tend to make the moral judgments that will serve to justify and rationalize their own behavior.