Debating superhero and everyday morality in ethics class

Choosing between saving a mentor or saving Gotham is one of the tough choices discussed in Stacey Burleson’s ethics class, which focuses on fictional and real-world dilemmas.

In today’s assignment, students select film or movie clips such as “Batman Begins” and analyze the characters’ decisions based on ethical theories.

“A person may perform an act because he feels it is right in his own conscience. That’s when individual morality comes into play,” said student Ricky Toussaint Jr. of his clip from “Tears of the Son,” where a military man chooses to try to save lives rather than follow orders.

The class is a philosophy, culture or literature elective designed to help students think critically and form their own opinions.

While some classes focus on global issues, others focus on everyday drama.

Student Krista Ochoa, of Dickinson, chose to analyze an episode of “New Girl” where a character chooses between honesty and sparing a friend’s feelings. She enjoys class discussions.

“We discussed everyday life situations, family, politics and how you make decisions. It helps in relationships. You see how to better communicate,” said Ochoa.

Students explore ethical theories and evaluate their reasoning.

“We do two debates. We talk about whether it is ever justifiable to take a life. We talk about lying and cheating and everyday dilemmas,” said professor Stacey Burleson.

By the class’ end, students have explored dozens of ethical theories, ultimately drawing their own conclusions.

“This class has changed my perspective on ethics, as I thought that ethics was just about what is right and what is wrong. Rather, I have learned that there are many sides to an ethical issue and that all of the solutions to an ethical issue have their own outcomes or consequences,” said student Colin Carter, of League City. “Stacey Burleson makes her classes interesting and she wants her students to think critically and to form their own opinions of the material that is being taught.”

For more information on ethics, contact Burleson at sburleson@com.edu or 409-933-8317.

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