Standard Ethical Argument Structure Template

1. Ethical principle (typically containing the word "should"/"ought"/"right", etc)

2. Statement of a particular case that relates to the principle.

∴ 3. Makes a conclusion about what "should" be done in the stated case by making a logically valid connection between 1 & 2.


An Example: Should students download textbooks illegally?

1. People should make ethical decisions based on what serves their own self-interest (Ethical Egoism).

2. Pirating textbooks saves students money, which serves students' self-interest.

∴ 3. According to Ethical Egoism, students SHOULD download textbooks illegally.


Another Example: Should students download textbooks illegally?

1. People should make ethical decisions based on what God commands (Divine Command Theory).

2. Pirating textbooks is stealing, which is a violation of God's commandment "Thou Shalt Not Steal"

∴ 3. According to Divine Command Theory, students SHOULD NOT download textbooks illegally.


Your Turn!

  • In the ethical perspective groups you've been working with, use the template above to construct an argument about whether/not students "should" download textbooks illegally based on that ethical perspective...
  • Select a group representative to demonstrate your ethical perspective to the class using your slides and your group's argument!
  • Share time...

Another Argument

1. If students donít answer questions in class, then that means that they either donít understand whatís going on or they donít care.

2. Some students donít answer questions in Computer Science lecture.

∴ 3. Those students donít know whatís going on in Computer Science lecture or they donít care.

Is this argument valid?

Another Argument

1. Good programmers should always choose the most efficient approach to solve any problem.

2. Binary searches are more efficient than linear (sequential) searches.

∴ 3. Good programmers should always choose binary searches over linear (sequential) searches.

Is this argument valid?