Ethical debates center on a number of highly controversial topics and seek to argue the merits of a position, the differences between right and wrong and the boundaries of ethical standards. Ethical debates also help to shape personal morals and values as well as those of the organizations people lead. Concentrating on these areas helps get debaters started in the right direction in choosing a topic.

Business

Business executives having a discussion.
Business executives having a discussion.

Ethical debate in business covers topics such as insider trading, abuse of power and trade secrets. Debaters can address how top-level ethical decisions can affect entire corporations, customers and stockholders. Using current event topics, both sides can cite media coverage of wrongdoing and how the malfeasance abuses the public trust, devalues a company’s assets and limits its opportunity to grow in the future. Considering how unethical behavior can cost a business its profits and how a company can lose credibility both make great debatable issues. Debate can also include developing a code of ethics policy for workers, training in ethics for managers and disciplining employees for unethical behavior.

Media

The news is on an e-reader next to a cup of coffee and pad of paper.
The news is on an e-reader next to a cup of coffee and pad of paper.

Media covers a wide range of areas including advertising, journalism and broadcasting. Good ethical debates topics for advertising include using photo manipulation software to change a buyer’s perception of a product, representing the truth of a product and targeting behaviors to increase sales. Topics in journalism include issues such as plagiarism, paying sources for stories and advertisers' influence on news coverage. The broadcasting end of media covers television, radio and the Internet, consisting of ethical debates such as using graphic video, hearing questionable language on a broadcast and posting damaging and harmful video to the Internet.

Health Care

A doctor is talking to a senior patient.
A doctor is talking to a senior patient.

Health care and ethics present a number of questions that often tie uniquely to religious and social concerns. Using medical technology to prolong life, contemplating physician-assisted suicide, cloning, experimenting with stem cell research and using drugs for multiple births all contain moral and ethical concerns. Aside from actual medical procedures, debaters can discuss the merits of a government-run health care program and whether they consider it a right or a privilege. Other issues under this topic include who the government should cover, the age to stop coverage and who should pay to finance the system.

Social Issues

A gay couple is pouring champagne to celebrate their marriage.
A gay couple is pouring champagne to celebrate their marriage.

Much like ethical issues in health care, social issues also cross into areas of religion and politics, mainly because of the way people debate funding and legislation. Ethical debate topics about capital punishment, abortion and gay marriage allow for people to argue about a number of issues relating to values and morality. People vindicated by the criminal justice system and those harmed during a botched abortion can create debatable arguments very different from those affected by a violent crime and those who stand by their decision to choose an abortion. Debate topics also include how the courts handle these issues.