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88 Examples of Ethical Issues

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Ethical issues are questions of right and wrong that face a society, community, organization, corporation, institution, family or individual. These include areas such as the social, environmental and economic impact of your actions and inactions. The following are common examples of ethical issues.
Addictive Products & Services
Advertising to Children
Air Pollution
Animal Welfare
Anti-Competitive Practices
Barriers to Accessibility
Civility, Tolerance & Mutual Respect
Conflict Of Interest
Corporate Accountability
Corporate Espionage
Corporate Political Influence
Debt Bondage
Disaster Resilience / Readiness
Dual Agency
Due Diligence (care and concern in your work)
Education Costs
Education Quality / Access to Education
Employer / Employee / Candidate Ghosting
Environmental Impact of Business
Environmental Justice
Environmental Mismanagement
Failure to Manage Risk
Fair Wages
Fiduciary Duty
Food Security
Freedom of Assembly & Association
Freedom of Movement
Freedom of Speech
Historical Preservation
Honesty & Candor
Human Accountability for Automation / AI
Human Rights
Inappropriate Gifts
Indigenous Rights
Information Security Issues (e.g. data leaks)
Invalid Expenses
Land Degradation
Layoffs / Firing
Legal Rights
Light Pollution
Living Conditions / Access to Housing
Medical Costs
Misinterpreting / Misrepresenting Data
Misleading Advertising / Marketing
Misspending / Overspending
Misuse of Company Time
Noise Pollution
Political Rights
Poor Working Conditions
Power Harassment
Product Safety
Product Transparency
Professional Conduct
Public Access (e.g. to a beach surrounded by private property)
Questionable Accounting
Resource Depletion
Respect for Intellectual Property
Secrecy / Transparency
Self Dealing
Service Quality (e.g. a telecom service that is often down with high impact to society)
Social Impact of Business
Tax Avoidance
Tax Burden (e.g. regressive taxation)
Unethical Non-Disclosure Agreements
Unhealthy Products
Water Pollution
Workplace Health & Safety

Social Ethics

Ethical issues that relate to society. This includes any question of right and wrong that impacts people. Issues of social ethics include clear ethical lapses whereby most people would agree that a particular action or decision was morally wrong. They also include ethical dilemmas where there is no clear and agreed path that is the ethical thing to do.

Business Ethics

Moral lapses, challenges and dilemmas that occur in business. For example, a large firm with a monopoly position that begins to treat customers, partners, communities or employees unfairly due to their overwhelming power in a market such that these entities have little power to resist.

Professional Ethics

Moral dilemmas, problems and lapses that can occur in a job. This often relates to fair treatment of your employer, customers and fellow employees. Issues of professional ethics can also relate to failures to meet basic professional standards.

Media Ethics

Media ethics particularly relate to journalism and reporting of the news and factual information of importance. Issues in this area include sensationalism, disregard for accuracy and allowing biases or an agenda to shape the selection and framing of stories.

Research Ethics

Ethical issues that can arise in research projects. This includes potential harm to research participants or researchers themselves. Issues of research ethics can also relate to the interests funding or influencing the research and the overall validity of the research.

Technology Ethics

Issues related to technology and its design, deployment and use. This is a fast growing area of ethical problems that can be difficult to address do to its novelty and complexity. Issues of technology ethics can include the use of technology by governments for social control or by firms for aggressive surveillance or marketing. Technology also creates things like monopolies and pollution.

Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical issues often involve grey areas where the "right" thing to do is somewhat debatable. For example, a castle that is being completely rebuilt according to its original plans. These plans include barriers such that many people with disabilities will be unable to access the site. The designs also do not meet modern standards for safety in areas such as fire exits and earthquake resilience. Some might argue the designs should be updated to balance historical authenticity with the need to meet modern standards of access and safety. Others might argue that this detracts from the cultural heritage of the site as a castle with modern features isn't authentic.


The following are examples of ethical issues that apply to society, business, professional life, the media, technology and research. These issues can be clear lapses that are widely viewed as wrongdoing and dilemmas that aren't easy to solve. The solution to ethical issues are typically ethical principles and values that provide guidelines for decisions and policies.
Next read: Examples of Ethics


This is the complete list of articles we have written about ethics.
Business Ethics
Ethical Issues
Ethics Examples
Fair Game
Professional Ethics
Social Ethics
Technology Ethics
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