Ethics discussion guide


Integrity in action—putting ethics to work

Objective: Expand students’ understanding of integrity and how it relates to decision-making.

Discussion: Refer to specific examples of structural integrity and lack thereof, such as a tall building that stays intact during an earthquake, a rope with a frayed strand, a chain with a broken link, or a house with a crumbling foundation. Ask students to come up with their own examples.
Relate structural integrity to ethical integrity—point out how it takes strength of character to consistently demonstrate ethical integrity. This is because our personal integrity is challenged regularly when we have to make decisions and/or respond to the words and actions of those around us. Explain that every time we make a “good” or ethical decision or choice, we are building or strengthening our personal integrity, making it more likely that we will make an ethical choice the next time.

Activity: Integrity quiz

Discussion: Review the integrity quiz with students and ask what they chose for the best answer. (Joyce walked back to the store, explained what happened, and returned the money.) Why would the second answer not be a good idea? (It would be likely that Joyce would not get around to returning to the store at a later date. She might feel badly about not doing it right away, and want to avoid the uncomfortable interaction.) Ask students if what Joyce did was illegal. (No.)  Relay that being legal doesn’t necessarily make it ethical.

Ask students if they or anyone they know ever had a similar situation, where they were undercharged or received too much change for something and had to give some money back. How would they feel if something similar happened to them and they chose the ethical option? (They would feel good because the cashier would be pleased at their honesty. Doing the right thing feels good!)