Moral & Ethical System Development Questions

Questions to help you figure out your science fiction and fantasy cultures' moral and ethical systems. You also can use this to troubleshoot for potential problems in a system that's supposed to be good, or find ways to make conflict in one that isn't!

  • Who originally designed it? What kind of person/people were they? What did they want out of it? Why did they choose this, and not something else?
  • What is it supposed to accomplish? What are its goals?
  • Who is this system supposed to benefit? In what ways? Who might be left out of this system's benefits, whether in whole or in part? If it benefits people unequally, why is it seen as right and/or acceptable that one group should benefit while another does not?
  • How might any of its precepts end up being used against the very people it's supposed to benefit or protect?
  • Does following its precepts genuinely make things better for people - IE, promote harmony and reduce suffering while delivering the greatest good to the greatest number? If so, in what ways?
  • Or are the consequences of not following its precepts mainly constructed - IE, you'll be punished by authority/the system if you fail to comply?
  • Does it provide an actual ethical framework? Or does it mostly just provide a list of dos and don'ts?
  • How might this system be exploited by a bully with a victim complex?
  • How might it be exploited by someone who wants to take down an innocent person out of malice or spite?
  • Does it have any measures in place to prevent people from exploiting it thus? Does it have anything along the lines of due process and "innocent until proven guilty"?
  • How might someone with absolutely no compassion or empathy exploit it for personal gain or pleasure?
  • How could it be applied to hinder or stop someone from helping others, or from otherwise behaving in an ethical manner?
  • How could it be applied to pressure people into harming others, or otherwise behaving in an unethical manner?
  • How could its precepts be applied in a morally abusive manner?
  • What kind of people might find it stifling? What sorts of harmless behaviors or forms of self-expression might it serve to inhibit?
  • Are there any particularly heinous and atrocious actions that are technically not prohibited by this system, or are even implicitly encouraged? What are they?
  • Is it more concerned with actual personal behaviors and actions, or is it more concerned with public appearances? Does it ever get looking good confused with actually doing good?
  • Does it have any rules or guidelines to prevent people from taking its philosophies or precepts too far?
  • Does it have any measures to prevent or remove corruption? If so, what?
  • Does it have any mechanisms in place to allow people to improve upon it and fix any errors or oversights it might have? If so, what?

You might also like:

Country & Culture-Development Questions
Things To Know When Creating & Developing Fictional Governments
Basic Tips To Create More Believable Sci-Fi & Fantasy Religions & Belief Systems
Tips To Create Fictional Philosophies & Value Systems

How Good People & Well-Intentioned Groups Can Go Bad
On Designing & Writing Oppressive Governments In Your Fiction
Factors That Contribute To Abusive & Dysfunctional Systems/Institutions

Ethical Considerations For Fantastic Situations - Are Your Sci-Fi & Fantasy Heroes Ethical People?
Character Morality & Ethics - What Separates Your Heroes From The Villains?

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