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

Leader Resource 1: Fairness Dilemmas

Part of Virtue Ethics

Dilemma 1

As part of an experiment, you are offered $100. There are two stipulations to the offer: 1) You must share it with a partner. However, you decide how much to keep and how much to share. 2) If your partner refuses their share, neither of you gets a penny. How much do you offer your partner? 50/50? What if the partner says, "I won't accept anything less than $90." What do you do?

Dilemma 2

Here is a fairness/justice issue you may not have thought about, but will affect you as a young taxpayer. The U.S. has a huge national debt that has been accumulating for decades. It is not new, but it does keep growing. If we do not make major cuts in spending, the future for young Americans seems bleak.

Some politicians call for cuts in public programs, saying the government is not responsible for funding such assistance as grants for lower income youth to attend college, contributions to Planned Parenthood, Headstart, and school lunch programs. However, some people say these cuts hurt the most vulnerable members of our society and are unfair.

Other politicians say we should cut defense spending and stop offering tax cuts to the wealthy.

Very few call for cuts in Medicare. Medicare is a program that supplements the health care costs for citizens over 65. As baby boomers flow into the Medicare system, the cost of maintaining this program will grow exponentially. Many people say it would not be fair to cut Medicare or reduce the number of people who qualify (by raising the qualified age, or cutting benefits to wealthier recipients), because people should be able to rely on Medicare to help them after they retire.

What do you think? Cuts need to be made and someone will suffer, no matter what. Who suffers cuts? What is fair?

Dilemma 3

Pat, Corey, and Sam all cannot wait to audition for the school musical. They all hope to be cast in the lead. Corey had the lead in the musical last year and was a big hit. The music director decides that Corey can have the lead this year without an audition because Corey will be perfect for the part. What does Corey do?

Pat and Sam are waiting by Corey's locker on the day of the audition. "Let's go to the audition together!" they say to Corey. They are both excited at the opportunity to get the lead. What does Corey say to Pat and Sam? How would you feel and react if you were Pat or Sam, and Corey told you they were pre-cast in the lead, without an audition?