Compiled by Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, a list of discussion quetsions to explore ethical issues raised by any film.
Discussion questions which explore ethical issues raised by any film
One or two of these questions will raise the ethical issues in any film. Evaluate the questions carefully to make sure that they apply to the film being studied. We suggest rotating the questions, using a different one or two for discussions of each film. Questions 1 - 4 should be used first (e.g., at the beginning of the school year). The questions requiring a more sophisticated analysis, 5 - 10, should be introduced after children have experience responding to the earlier questions.
- Who were the stakeholders for each major ethical choice made in the film? [A stakeholder is a person or an animal who is affected, directly or indirectly, by a decision made by another person.]
- There were many people whose ethical choices contributed to the outcome shown in the film. For each major character describe how they complied with or violated the ethical principles of the The Six Pillars of Character and describe how the outcome would have changed had they acted differently.
- Analyze the actions of any major character in the movie applying two tests which any ethical action must pass: (1) The Golden Rule and (2) universality (Would the person taking the action want all persons to act the same way in a similar situation?).
- The plots of most films turn on one or more ethical choices which must be made by the characters in the movie. Which of The Six Pillars of Character, if any, are involved in the plot of this film? Tell us whether the ethical decisions on which the plot turned complied with the standards set out in the Six Pillars. Justify your opinion.
- Which characters in the movie showed ethical/moral growth? What were the causes of this change? Which character showed the most growth? Defend your position.
- Which characters in the movie showed a deterioration in their ethical or moral standards? What were the causes of this change? Which character suffered the greatest decline in their moral/ethical standards? Defend your position.
- Analyze the moral failures of the characters in this film to determine whether or not they fell into the most common rationalizations for not acting ethically.
- If It's Necessary, It's Ethical
- The False Necessity Trap
- If It's Legal and Permissible, It's Proper
- I Was Doing It for You
- I'm Just Fighting Fire With Fire
- It Doesn't Hurt Anyone
- Everyone's Doing It
- It's OK as Long as I Don't Gain Personally
- I've Got It Coming
- I Can Still Be Objective
Describe the moral failures of the characters and the rationalizations that they used to justify their actions.
- Analyze the ethical decisions made by the characters in this film to determine whether or not you would come to the same conclusion using the analysis of principled decision-making described above or in the Ethical Decision-Making Model suggested by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. See Making Ethical Decisions*.
- Did characters in this movie make decisions that involved a choice between conflicting values, including conflicts between ethical values and non-ethical values? If so, how did the characters make their decisions and did they follow the analysis of principled decision-making described above or in the Josephson Institute Decision-Making Model? See Making Ethical Decisions*.
- Analyze the process by which ethical choices were made by the characters in this film to determine whether or not they complied with the analysis of principled decision-making described above or in described in Making Ethical Decisions*? Defend your answer.
Bibliography: Bibliography: Making Ethical Decisions by Michael Josephson, published by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, 1996.*
*The Josephson Institute of Ethics permits this short volume to be printed from the web and distributed to students. Other free teaching materials from the Josephson Institute can be obtained at Free Teaching Tools.