5. Morality (Part 2)


Remind the students that they are looking at the question, ‘What does it mean to be ‘good’?’

Should we live according to set moral laws?

This session is designed to develop students’ ideas about whether or not moral absolutism is the way forward. It is mainly based around watching a video of the American lecturer Michael Sandel talking to a group of students at Harvard University. Really stress to the students that they are watching a recording of a lecture done by one of the top philosophers on the planet delivering this lesson to a group of university students. As such, they should be very proud of themselves for doing this level of work, but also not worry about asking you questions if they get a bit lost at any point.

Begin this session by asking the students to remind you about the difference between moral absolutists and moral relativists. Then ask them which position they personally tend towards. At this point tell them they are about to watch a video (see paragraph above). The video is available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBdfcR-8hEY

Play the video from the start until Sandel finishes his lecture at just over 24 minutes.


Throughout the video stop and question the students about how they would react in each of the dilemmas and ask them whether or not they are regard themselves as ‘consequentialists’, that is, believing that whether an act is right or wrong depends only on the results of that act and that the more good consequences an act produces, the better or more right that act.

You might want to ask them to draw up the strengths and weaknesses of consequentialist and categorical approaches to morality. You might want to outline what Utilitarianism is and build on Kant’s views which you highlighted in the previous lesson.

Finish the session by getting the students to consider why Sandel thinks that philosophy is fascinating, useful and unsettling at the same time!


1.  Happiness Part 1: status anxiety
2.  Happiness Part 2: religion and happiness
3.  Happiness Part 3: what is happiness?
4.  Morality Part 1: what is morality?
5.  Morality Part 2: should we live by ‘moral laws’?
6.  Morality Part 3: where does our sense of morality come from?
7.  Are You Religious?
8.  What Is a Religion and what is a Cult?
9.  What does it Mean to be Religious Today?
10. Religion in Numbers Part 1: how many people on Earth?
11. Religion in Numbers Part 2: how many people are ‘religious’?
12. Religion in Numbers Part 3: how did believers got to where they are?
13. Are All Religions Equal?
14. Transactional Analysis: learning how to feel equal
15. Bloom’s Taxonomy
16. Harry Potter and God
17. Without Fear or Favour Part 1
18. Without Fear or Favour Part 2
19. It’s Not Fair
20. Mind, Memory and Justice
21. Karma, Memory, Freedom and Justice
22. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 1: Religion Without God
23. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 2: God and Morality
24. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 3: Is Life Beautiful?
25. Can Atheists learn anything from Religion?
26. What do Buddhists Believe about God?
27. Is Seeing Believing?
28. Are We Being Hypnotised?
29. Sex and Relationships
30. Truth, Proof and Evidence
31. How should we deal with the range of different opinions in today’s world?
32. Is Religion a Force for Evil or Good?
33. Do Religious Experiences Prove God?
34. What Is Evil?
35. God and Evil
36. Can we verify Religious Experiences?
37. How Spiritual are You?
38. What is Philosphy?
39. The Power of Words
40. Art and Beauty

A printable (pdf) version of this session can be found here

© Sea of Faith 2018

Sea of Faith is a Registered Charity no: 1113177