Lesson 19 & 20: Debate lesson

In this lesson we had to split into groups of 4, where two people were debating ‘for’ a certain topic while the other two would argue ‘against’ it. For our topic, we discussed the issues around making an International Law that would ban all whaling activities.




Our argument consists of reasons such that not all whaling should be banned, but people should try to reduce the number of whales being hunted or killed, in other words, sustainable whaling. Limiting the number of whales is different from banning all hunting activities. Limiting prevents endangering species and extinction of whales.

In addition to sustainable whaling, the people should  use every part of the whale instead of taking only what they need because this would just create wastage.

The majority of the population do not care if cows or pigs are killed for their meat, and that happens every day, therefore despite being endangered, the extent of banning all whaling seems extreme as killing pigs for their meat is the same as killing whales for their meat too.

To further discuss this topic, right now the food chain is not being affected because whales are towards the end of the food chain as they eat smaller fish, however if all whaling is banned, the population of whales will increase, and could lead to overpopulation, which could potentially affect the food chain causing endangering and extinction to possible smaller fish species. Population kept at a stable number by natural predators (humans included) continuing to do what they’ve done for centuries.

Lesson 18: Ethical Philosophy


Key Terms for Ethics:

  • Ethics: standards of behaviour the society wants to set; system of principles of what’s right & wrong, coming from moral values/ internal senses
  • Ethical egoism: we should behave in a way that promotes our personal happiness, in the long run.
  • Altruism: we should sacrifice our personal interests for those of others
  • Utilitarianism: maximizing the overall benefit for everyone involved OR the proper course of action is one which maximises the overall “happiness”
  • Moral duty: we do something because we know we should do it/ regardless of the benefit to self
  • mens rea: guilty mind
  • actus rea: guilty actions
  • Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”


  • Consequentialism / Ultilitarianism
  • Situational Ethics
  • Duty Ethics / Emmanual Kant and the Categorical Imperative
  • Deontology
  • What according to utilitarianism makes an action morally right?
  • What is the difference between utilitarianism and hedonism?
  • What arguments can be used to defend utilitarianism?
  • Why does utilitarianism sometimes recommend actions that go against conventional morality?
  • How do we know what is morally correct?
  • Is knowledge of morals like or unlike other areas of knowledge?

More useful links:

Consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist theories of ethics

Categoricalism vs Consequentialism pdf

Useful ToK terms