Welcome to SEE's Reasoning with Ethics page. The following case and supporting resources (below) are provided to help facilitate class discussions or essay assignments with a focus on ethical reasoning. Ethical reasoning is one factor teachers can encourage for student character formation.
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SEE encourages the strategy described in our Reasoning with Ethics resources to be applied beyond current events cases and used to analyze relevant cases in history, literature and life.
Cases can be used as
• Class discussion starters
• Reading lessons
• Essay prompts
• Social studies, health or ethics class analysis
* See below for link to supporting resources and archived cases
Frederick Douglass: Man of Character
February 22, 2021
During Black History Month, SEE recommends a study of Frederick Douglass. Douglass’ story spanning 77 years of the 1800s represents some of the best and worst of American history. From his intrinsic drive to self-educate and escape slavery, to his gifted writing and oratory, Douglass was an effective abolitionist, a supporter of women’s suffrage, and an advocate for equal rights, fairness, and justice. Using the US Constitution and writings from his Christian faith, he argued for policies and laws of the United States to demonstrate the claims that all men (and women) are created equal. He became an advisor to Presidents and a sought-after speaker in the US, England, Ireland, and Europe.
Frederick Douglass short video bio (2:58)-- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka0IRru-JYA
Frederick Douglass on Wikipedia-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass
History.com on Frederick Douglass-- https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/frederick-douglass
Analysis Activity: Did Douglass forgive his slave master?
Thank you to the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire for the picture of Frederick Douglass: https://blackheritagetrailnh.org/reading-frederick-douglass-on-july-3rd-2018/
One example of his remarkable character was his willingness to reach out to his past slave master with a letter that stated, “there is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege, to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other.” Douglass wanted his example to demonstrate authentic civility while continuing to resist the institution of slavery.
Students are asked to consider what core values would have led Douglass to include this statement of hospitality in a letter to his slave master.