Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Alternate Activity 2: Are Humans Born Good?

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Description of Activity

The group debates human nature.

Here are questions for the group to debate:

  • Are people born good? Are we inherently good? Or do we need to be taught virtues? If practicing virtues makes us better at achieving them, does that mean we are not born virtuous?
  • What about our first Unitarian Universalist Principle, the inherent worth and dignity of all people? Does that mean humans are inherently worthy and full of integrity?
  • Some people say humans are born flawed by original sin. Original sin is the taint all humankind carries because, according to the biblical story, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the Tree of Knowledge. What do we, as Unitarian Universalists, believe about original sin?
  • If people are not born virtuous, why do some people exhibit some virtues very early on while others do not? Why do some children seem inherently generous or empathetic? Is this learned behavior or genetics? How much of our character is inherited from our parents? How much of it do we learn learned (nature versus nurture)?
  • What does Unitarian Universalism say about nature versus nurture?
  • What or who is the best teacher of virtues? How have you learned to be "good?"