Ethical Dilemma Forum


“Ethical Debate Forum” is an interactive forum activity designed for Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate students. This resource aims to engage students in deep ethical discussions, challenging them to articulate and defend their positions on complex issues. Through exploring ethical dilemmas, students will enhance their critical thinking, moral reasoning, and argumentation skills—essential components of successful LD debate.


This activity is suited for high school LD debate teams, ethics classes, or any group looking to explore the intricacies of moral philosophy and its practical applications in debate.

Learning Outcomes

  • Enhanced Moral Reasoning: Students will develop a deeper understanding of ethical principles and how they apply to real-world dilemmas.
  • Critical Thinking: Promote critical thinking by encouraging students to analyze dilemmas from multiple perspectives.
  • Argumentation Skills: Improve students’ ability to construct coherent, persuasive arguments and articulate their ethical stances clearly.
  • Empathy and Perspective-Taking: Foster empathy and the ability to consider and understand different viewpoints.


  1. Preparation:

    • Select a range of ethical dilemmas (see below for suggestions). Ensure each dilemma presents a clear conflict of values or principles.
    • Divide students into small groups, assigning each group one of the dilemmas.
  2. Research and Discussion:

    • Allow time for each group to research their dilemma, considering various ethical theories and principles that might apply (e.g., utilitarianism, deontological ethics, virtue ethics).
    • Groups discuss their dilemma, aiming to understand the complexity of the issue and formulating a stance based on ethical reasoning.
  3. Presentation:

    • Each group presents their ethical dilemma, their chosen stance, and the reasoning behind it.
    • Encourage them to articulate their opinions without specifically referencing philosophical theories, encouraging them to come up with new ways to explain their advocacy clearly rather than referring to existing works.
  4. Class Debate:

    • After each presentation, open the floor for a class debate. Allow students from other groups to offer counterarguments or alternative perspectives.
    • Focus on maintaining a respectful and constructive debate environment, emphasizing the importance of understanding all sides of an ethical issue.
  5. Reflection:

    • Conclude with a reflective session where students share what they learned from the activity. Discuss the relevance of ethical reasoning in LD debate and how it can be applied in future topics.

Possible Ethical Dilemmas

  1. Autonomous Vehicles: Should autonomous vehicles be programmed to prioritize the lives of passengers over pedestrians in the event of an unavoidable accident?
  2. Privacy vs. Security: To what extent should government surveillance be allowed in the interest of national security?
  3. Genetic Engineering: Is it ethical to genetically engineer humans to enhance physical or intellectual abilities?
  4. Artificial Intelligence: Should AI development be limited to prevent potential future risks to humanity?
  5. Climate Change: Is it morally acceptable for developed countries to impose environmental regulations on developing countries?
  6. Healthcare Rationing: In a crisis, how should limited healthcare resources (like ventilators) be allocated?
  7. Wealth Redistribution: Is it ethical for governments to enforce wealth redistribution to address inequality?
  8. Animal Rights: Do animals have rights equivalent to humans, and how do these rights affect our dietary and research practices?
  9. Social Media Censorship: To what extent should social media platforms regulate speech to prevent harm?


“Ethical Dilemma Forum” offers LD debaters a platform to practice and refine their understanding of ethical reasoning and its application in debate. By exploring complex dilemmas, students not only prepare for the ethical dimensions of LD resolutions but also cultivate a deeper appreciation for the role of ethics in shaping our world.

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