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Ethics Vocab

Theme A: Relationships and families


A couple living together without being married/in civil partnership.


Sympathy and concern for the suffering of others.


Precautions taken to prevent pregnancy and to protect against contracting or transmitting STIs (sexually transmitted infections).


Legal ending of a marriage.

Extended family:

Family unit comprising two parents and their children, but also grandparents, cousins etc.

Family planning:

Planning when to have a family and how big a family to have by use of birth control practices and/or contraception.

Gender discrimination:

Acting on prejudices against someone because of their gender.

Gender equality:

Belief that all genders have equal status and value, so discrimination against any is wrong.

Gender prejudice:

Negative thoughts, feelings or beliefs about a person or group based on their gender.


Being physically/sexually attracted to persons of the opposite gender.


Being physically/sexually attracted to persons of the same gender.

Nuclear family:

Family unit made up of two parents and their child(ren).


The practice of having multiple spouses (wives and/or husbands).


Having a child; seen as a duty in many religions.


Marriage for the second time, after divorce ending an earlier marriage.


Promises made during a marriage ceremony.

Theme B: religion and life


The deliberate ending of a pregnancy.


Beliefs about what happens to ‘us’ after our body has died; in many religions this relates to life after death or immortality in some form.

Animal experimentation:

The use of animals for medical research and product testing.

Awe and Wonder:

Sense of wonderment at nature; often linked to the feeling that God is involved/revealed through it.

Big Bang Theory:

Scientific theory about the origins of the universe; belief that the universe began almost 14 billion years ago with a reaction of particles from a singularity followed by a process of inflation and expansion.


The end of the physical, bodily life.


Belief that humans have been given control/charge of the world.


The world around us; this can be made up natural or artificial surroundings.


Assisting with the ending of life for a person who is terminally ill or has degenerative illness; often known as assisted suicide.


Scientific theory of the development of species which involves a process of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

Natural resources:

Resources which are found in nature – fossil fuels (eg coal, oil, natural gas), plants etc.


Contamination of an environment with harmful substances.

Quality of life:

The standard of health, comfort and happiness/fulfillment experienced by a person or group.


Having a duty or obligation to act in a certain way.

Sanctity of life:

Belief that life is sacred/special because it was created by God, or because we are each unique individuals.


Knowledge based on what can be observed (eg regularities in nature) and experimentation.


Duty given by God to humankind to look after the created world, and all life within it.

Theme D: religion, peace and conflict


Dispute between sides, can be between individuals, groups or nations.


Letting go of blame against a person for wrongs they have done; moving on.

Holy War:

War that is believed to be sanctioned by God.


Bringing fairness back to a situation.

Just War:

Set of rules for fighting a war in a way believed to be justified and acceptable to God.

Nuclear deterrence:

Having nuclear weapons with the aim of deterring/preventing other states attacking for fear of retaliation and nuclear war (possibly leading to Mutually Assured Destruction).

Nuclear weapons/war:

A weapon of mass destruction which causes widespread damage and loss of life. Nuclear war would be a war fought using these weapons.


Belief that all violence is wrong, which then affects all behaviours.


The opposite of war; harmony between all in society.


Working to bring about peace and reconciliation.


A statement or action to express disagreement; can be an organised event to demonstrate disagreement with a policy or political action.


Making up and rebuilding relationships between two groups/sides after disagreement.


To pay someone back for their harmful actions.


Use of violence and threats to intimidate others; used for political purposes to build fear in the ordinary population and to secure demands from Government.

Victims of war:

Those who are harmed during a war, for example those killed, injured or left homeless.


Behaviour involving physical force which intends to hurt, kill or cause damage.


Armed conflict between two or more sides.

Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Weapons which cause widespread, indiscriminate damage (eg nuclear, chemical, biological).

Theme E: religion, crime and punishment


Being addicted to/dependent on a particular substance; can be a cause of crime (eg stealing money to pay for illegal drugs).

Community service:

Punishment involving the criminal doing a set number of hours of physical labour/work in their local community.

Corporal punishment:

Punishment in which physical pain is inflicted on the criminal.


Action which breaks the law; can be against the person (eg murder), against property (eg vandalism), or against the state (eg treason).

Death penalty:

Capital punishment; the execution of a criminal which is sanctioned by the state.


Aim of punishment; the threat of punishment as a way to put a person off committing crime (eg knowing they could go to prison if they steal).

Evil intentions:

Having the desire to deliberately cause suffering or harm to another.


Letting go of blame against a person for wrongs they have done; moving on.


Reason for committing crime – wanting or desiring something or more of something.

Hate crime:

A crime committed because of prejudice views about a person or group.


Imprisonment is a form of punishment where a criminal is locked in a secure guarded building (prison) for a period of time.


The rules a country demands its citizens follow, the breaking of which leads to punishment.

Mental illness:

A medical condition that can cause changes to a person’s behaviour; can be a cause of crime.


Unlawfully killing another person.


The state of being without the things needed for a reasonable quality of life; can be a cause of crime.

Principle of utility:

The concept of acting out of the greater good for the most people. (eg removing a dangerous criminal from society in order to protect others).


Aim of punishment; helping the criminal see how and why their behaviour was wrong, so that their mindset changes for the better.


Aim of punishment; getting the criminal back for their crimes.

Sanctity of life:

Belief that life is sacred/special because it was created by God, or because we are each unique individuals.


Taking something without the owner’s consent.

Unjust law:

A legal requirement within a society that is believed to be unfair; a cause of crime if a person believes they cannot follow (or must act against) a law they believe is unjust.


The environment a child lives in, and the instructions they receive, while they are growing up; can be a cause of crime.

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