Ethics is a branch of philosophy that explores morality, justice, virtue, and the good life. Choosing an interesting ethics essay topic can be challenging since the subject is broad with many aspects to consider. Here are some engaging ethics essay topics for students.

Good Ethics Research Topics & Essay Examples

  • Does the end justify the means? An analysis of Machiavellian ethics.
  • The trolley problem – would you divert the trolley to kill one instead of five?
  • Are organic and local foods more ethical than conventional foods?
  • Can violent protest ever be justified on ethical grounds?
  • Is civil disobedience ethically defensible? Discuss in relation to historical examples.
  • Evaluate the ethics of plea bargaining practices in the justice system.
  • Is ethical relativism a defensible moral theory, or does it undermine ethics?
  • Analyze Project Prevention, which pays drug addicts to be sterilized or use long-term birth control.
  • Discuss controversies around screening embryos for disabilities like Down Syndrome.
  • Do corporations have social responsibilities beyond profits? Should they?
  • Can human enhancement technologies like neural implants be ethical?
  • Evaluate the ethics of eminent domain laws allowing private property seizure.
  • Is it ethical to have children in an overpopulated world facing climate change?
  • Assess arguments for and against intermittent fasting diets from an ethical lens.
  • Analyze the ethical implications of over-tourism and sustainability in travel.

Hot Ethical Topics for Essays

Current events and trends often provide compelling ethics essay topics. Some hot topics include:

  • Should social media platforms censor misinformation or protect free speech?
  • Does excessive CEO pay demonstrate corrupt business ethics?
  • Discuss controversies around ethical AI development and use.
  • Analyze #MeToo and debates around sexual harassment and consent.
  • Evaluate protests over policing and racism through an ethical lens.
  • Examine the ethics of influencer marketing on social media.
  • Assess the environmental ethics of fast fashion and textile waste.
  • Discuss the ethics of unpaid internships – opportunity or exploitation?
  • Analyze debates around athletes kneeling during the national anthem as a protest.
  • Evaluate arguments for and against cancel culture as social accountability.
  • Examine issues around transgender athletes competing based on gender identity.
  • Discuss controversies around companies like 23andMe sharing genetic data.
  • Assess concerns about the addictive nature of social media from an ethics lens.
  • Discuss the Parler platform and ethical issues around unregulated free speech.
  • Analyze the SolarWinds breach and ethics of undermining faith in elections.

Most Interesting Ethics Essay Examples

Specific cases can illuminate abstract ethical principles. Interesting examples include:

  • Evaluate BP’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill using ethical models.
  • Analyze Volkswagen’s emissions testing scandal through the lens of utilitarian and deontological ethics.
  • Discuss ethical issues in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Consider informed consent and harm.
  • Examine ethical dilemmas faced by Facebook content moderators censoring disturbing content.
  • Analyze Theranos’ fraudulent blood testing claims. Discuss whistleblowing and utilitarian ethics.
  • Assess the unethical human experiments conducted by Nazi doctors during WWII.
  • Discuss ethics violations in the Stanford prison experiment led by Philip Zimbardo.
  • Evaluate Enron’s unethical accounting practices and corporate fraud.
  • Analyze ethical issues raised by Martin Shkreli hiking the price of Daraprim.
  • Discuss the ethical implications of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.
  • Examine revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook user data.
  • Assess the unethical radiation experiments on vulnerable populations by the U.S. government.
  • Evaluate the ethics of Project MKUltra mind control experiments by the CIA.
  • Analyze ethical issues related to the Tuskegee syphilis study.
  • Discuss the ethics of human cloning using the case of Dolly the sheep.

Simple Ethical Essay Topics

Sometimes, a focused question is best for an introductory ethics essay:

  • Is it ever ethical to tell a lie?
  • How should we ethically treat animals?
  • Does true altruism exist?
  • Are morals relative or universal?
  • Is ethical consumption possible?
  • Is eminent domain ethical?
  • Can censorship ever be justified ethically?
  • Does the death penalty achieve justice?
  • Is ethical relativism defensible or problematic?
  • Should we have an ethical obligation to the environment?
  • Is it ethical to design your baby using genetic engineering?
  • Can suicide ever be ethically justified?
  • Does trophy hunting have ethical defenses?
  • Should more professions have an oath like medicine’s Hippocratic Oath?
  • Is it unethical to be rich while others are poor?

Ethics Paper Topics for Speech

Public speaking courses often require persuasive speeches on ethics. Some engaging speech topics include:

  1. Argue for or against animal testing from an ethical perspective.
  2. Make the case for stronger corporate ethics policies and regulations.
  3. Advocate for ethical fashion and reducing textile waste.
  4. Persuade others to support a position on capital punishment based on ethics.
  5. Convince the audience of an ethical duty to volunteer or donate to charity.
  6. Argue for or against censorship from an ethical framework.
  7. Advocate for more ethical and sustainable consumption.
  8. Persuade the audience to care more about climate change ethics.
  9. Make the case for or against affirmative action based on ethics.
  10. Argue for more ethical standards and regulation of social media.
  11. Convince the audience of the ethical imperative to reduce economic inequality.
  12. Advocate for the ethical treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
  13. Argue for or against plea bargaining from an ethical perspective.
  14. Make the case for ethical human enhancement technologies.
  15. Persuade the audience with an ethical approach to artificial intelligence.

Ethics Presentation Topics

Similar to speeches, presentations allow more creativity. Some ideas:

  • Create an illustrated guide to major ethical philosophies and thinkers.
  • Use images and examples to compare deontology and utilitarianism.
  • Design a slideshow on unethical versus ethical business practices.
  • Present on ethics and technology issues like automation, AI, and genetic engineering.
  • Illustrate the ethics code and standards for a profession like medicine, law, or engineering.

Ethics Research Paper Topics

In-depth ethics papers often examine a practical issue through a philosophical lens. Consider:

  • An application of Kant’s categorical imperative to vaccine policy and obligations.
  • A utilitarian perspective on climate change action and reducing environmental harm.
  • Rawls’ theory of justice applied to issues of economic inequality.
  • Aristotle’s virtues are examined in modern ethical leadership models.
  • An existentialist view of finding meaning and ethics in individual freedoms.
  • A deontological analysis of truth-telling obligations and justifiable lies.
  • Assessing corporate social responsibility through a Kantian ethics framework.
  • Applying Rawls’ veil of ignorance thought experiment to healthcare access.
  • An Aristotelian virtue ethics approach to social media habits.
  • Examining technology’s ethical challenges through a utilitarian lens.
  • Analyzing animal rights through deontology, utilitarianism, and care ethics.
  • Evaluating ethical egoism and altruism in volunteerism and charity.
  • Applying virtue ethics to ethical consumption and minimalism movements.
  • Using classical ethics systems to evaluate moral dilemmas like the trolley problem.
  • Contrasting deontological and utilitarian approaches to the death penalty debate.

Easy Ethics Essay Topics

Sometimes, a simple, focused question allows more accessible analysis:

  • Are white lies acceptable?
  • How young is too young for social media?
  • Does prison achieve justice?
  • Can money buy happiness?
  • Should we eat meat?
  • Is piracy unethical?
  • Do we have a duty to rescue others in danger?
  • Can discrimination ever be morally justified?
  • Is it ethical to cut in line?
  • Should we prioritize local over global aid?
  • Do animals have moral value?
  • Is doxxing always unethical?
  • Should affluent nations prioritize citizens over refugees?
  • Can rioting be ethically defended?
  • Is it moral to enjoy unethically made art or products?

Ethical Topics to Write About

Current issues often raise ethical questions worth examining:

  • Police use of facial recognition technology and privacy concerns
  • Ethical questions around genetic editing like CRISPR
  • The ethics of social media addiction
  • Gender pronouns, misgendering, and respect
  • Social media activism: raising awareness or slacktivism?
  • The ethics of influencer marketing on social media
  • Moral implications of deep fakes and synthetic media
  • Ethics of anonymous messaging apps like Yik Yak
  • Microtargeting ads and political manipulation
  • Sexting, revenge porn, and victim blaming
  • Raised awareness but no action – ethical analysis
  • Gender reveal parties and upholding binary constructs
  • Discrimination fears around DNA analysis and sequencing
  • Contact tracing apps – public health vs privacy ethics
  • Manipulation in the ‘Plotagon’ videos on TikTok

Trending Ethics Topics for Research Paper

Look to news headlines for engaging and timely ethics essay inspiration:

  • Artificial wombs’ impact on abortion ethics and personhood debates
  • Ransomware attacks and Cybersecurity Ethics
  • The shift to electric vehicles – environmental and business ethics
  • Tax avoidance strategies of billionaires – legal but ethical?
  • Algorithms and bias in healthcare, banking, and criminal justice systems
  • The ethics of extremist content and free speech on social media
  • Smart city surveillance systems – safety vs privacy concerns
  • Ethical questions around commercial space flights
  • The environmental impact of NFTs and blockchain technologies
  • AI art and ownership – Does creativity have morality?
  • The right to repair movement – corporate profits vs sustainability
  • Greenwashing accusations and authentic corporate sustainability
  • Ethics of true crime entertainment and podcasts
  • Discrimination in healthcare algorithms and medical AI
  • Contact tracing apps – public health vs privacy ethics

Ethical Paper Topics for Debate

Debates highlight the nuance in ethical dilemmas. Some topics include:

  • Consumer sovereignty: Should people be free to buy what they want, or are limits needed? Examine issues like vice goods, harm to others, and government overreach vs. paternalism.
  • Participation trophies: promoting self-esteem or undermining excellence? Discuss whether trophies for all undermine meritocracy, discipline, and achievement vs. building self-worth.
  • Monuments and controversial historical figures: preserve or remove? Analyze conflicting perspectives on reckoning with racist history vs. erasing historical records and art.
  • Papers for sale online: free enterprise or promoting cheating? Evaluate the morality of businesses selling essays and concern over plagiarism and academic dishonesty vs belief in open information.
  • Cash bail system: justice or discrimination against the poor? Assess arguments about the unfair impact of cash bail on lower-income defendants vs the belief that bail is needed to ensure appearance and public safety.
  • Clinical trial ethics: informed consent or exploitation of the vulnerable? Weigh arguments for consent, transparency, and patient protection versus the belief that trials offer hope and access for the underserved.
  • Standardized testing ethics: meritocracy or institutional bias? Discuss bias and barriers for disadvantaged students versus belief tests provide objective achievement measures.
  • Right to be forgotten online: privacy vs free speech? Evaluate arguments for removing outdated or irrelevant online information versus concerns over censorship and public records.
  • Violent protest tactics: unethical or catalysts for change? Contrast views seeing property destruction as antithetical to goals versus the belief major change requires disruption.
  • Corporate political donations: free speech or improper influence? Debate whether money equates to speech versus the corruption of the democratic process.

Ethical Research Questions

Research papers often begin with open-ended ethical questions:

  • How does gender shape moral perspectives and judgments?
  • What factors influence ethical business leadership and corporate culture?
  • How do different cultures approach ethics related to the environment?
  • What role should ethical values play in technological innovation?
  • How is moral psychology studied, and what insights does it offer?
  • How do political ideologies and affiliations shape ethical viewpoints?
  • What ethical frameworks best evaluate emerging technologies like AI and genetic engineering?
  • How do different religious traditions approach medical and end-of-life ethics?
  • What are effective ways to teach and develop ethical reasoning skills?
  • How do historical atrocities and injustice shape modern ethics and human rights?

Final thoughts on Ethics nursing essay topics

In summary, ethics essay topics develop valuable skills in reasoning, critical thinking, rhetoric, and self-reflection. Applying philosophical frameworks to real-world dilemmas refines moral analysis, while debating controversial issues teaches nuanced communication. 

Most importantly, ethics essays move us past simplistic notions of right and wrong to ask deeper questions that wrestle with complex moral trade-offs. Examining ethical dilemmas allows us to clarify our values, improve our character, and gain principles to guide an examined life. Ethics prompts teach humility in the face of hard truths and seek insight on living ethically in an imperfect world.

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