Language: Real life examples
Controversial issues concerning language are common, simply because of how integral it is to our society. Questions come up all the time - should children be able to choose any name they like? Should we use or avoid specific words for ethical reasons? Some examples are given below, and more can be found on this page by theoryofknowledge.net.
An example of the importance of language as a method of communication in ethics is this campaign from 1999 about being mindful of the language we use to talk about people with disabilities. This is an example of how value-laden language reflects our thoughts, and can be chosen to have, or not to have, specific connotations. It explains how certain words like "crippled" or "handicapped" have negative, victim-like connotations, and show disrespect to the people concerned. It suggests that instead, we use terms like "disabled people", or "people with disabilities", which have different connotations. This is an example of a group being aware of the values reflected in words concerning them, and actively trying to affect them. Often, though, this is difficult to do.
Another real life situation concerning language and ethics is this article, When Slang Becomes a Slur by Geoffrey Nunberg. It too discusses words that are derogatory because of the associations connected with them, their emotional meanings: specifically the connotations of the word "Redskins". This has been used by whites to describe Indians since the 19th Century, and although its origins are benign, it has now taken on the opinions and prejudices of 200 years ago.
Another example of language being used in ethics is this article on abortion, 10 Reasons Why Abortion is Evil & not "Pro-Choice" by the American Society for Protection of Family, Tradition and Property. In this article, extremely value-laden and emotionally charged language is selected in order to manipulate the reader on the ethical issue of abortion. Examples of this are: “Abortion is murder”, “Over 56 million unborn children have been killed”, and “innocent lives will be lost.” The selection of words like “murder” and “innocent” is an obvious attempt at ethical manipulation.