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Ethical principles of life writing

Why do you need to think about this?

Across our lives, no matter where we live or what we do, we are guided by ethics that help us make decisions about how we ought to behave. Sometimes ethics are straightforward. For example, from an early age, we learn that to physically harm others or destroy their property is wrong in the eyes of the law and the community.


Other ethical issues are not so clear. For example, one person might be outraged by the use of solitary confinement in prison, believing it is a form of torture, while someone else thinks it’s necessary to keep order and modify prisoner behaviour. In some communities and nations, there are fierce and sometimes violent actions carried out because individuals or groups cannot agree on the ethics surrounding the termination of pregnancies. These are just two ethical issues that illustrate how our beliefs and values inform our behaviour.

So, what’s this got to do with you writing a life story? 

Some things are straightforward, others are not. Facebook is a good example of an arena where ethics come into play. Here are some examples for you to consider: ethical or unethical? legal or illegal?

Anyone who shares their life experiences with you deserves your respect. This means that you must understand that they have the final decision about what is and is not to be included. Mostly, this won’t be a problem and these principles are provided not only to protect your subject, but also to protect you from any unintended problems.

So, here are three things that you must do for the purposes of the life story you write:

If you are ever uncertain, then the best thing to do is check with your teacher.

Here are some questions to help you resolve ethical dilemmas:

Finally, two questions that will be really useful: