Ethics is thinking about living well. Most people do this, although some do it rarely, and some do it poorly. We make numerous assumptions about what it is to live well and may review and revise these assumptions at key periods of our lives, or after thought and study.

Once we have a sense of what a life lived well, a good human life, looks like we can build up some pointers for achieving this. These are principles or values. We can then make use of these principles when we make important decisions about or within our lives. If our decisions generally match our principles well, we start to develop a character around our purposeful attempts to live well. Philosophers sometimes speak of developing 'virtues' when we manage to do this.


ACU students at Strathfield campus

Ethics + ACU

As a Catholic university, ACU is explicit in its commitment to ethics as an area of study, reflection, debate and practice. The university's mission focuses on pursuit of truth, acknowledgement of universal human dignity and service of the common good.

Our Strategic Plan 2020–2023  has three key focus areas: opportunity, innovation and ethics.  

The ACU Ethics Strategy derives from the university’s strategic plan. It includes engagement with church and society, research, learning and teaching as well as ACU staff, students and community

The Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Ethics)  manages and coordinates the implementation of our Ethics Strategy. 

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Catholic Intellectual Tradition

Ethics + Catholic Intellectual Framework

Every university has an intellectual framework. ACU’s operating framework is the Catholic intellectual tradition. The university does not set out to convert people to Catholic faith, but it does attempt to reflect and advance the intellectual tradition specific to Catholicism.

Catholic universities, since they include all perspectives including the Catholic one, can be amongst the most widely inclusive educational institutions.

Catholic intellectual tradition values truth and the good human life; it holds that faith is compatible with reason. This is a living tradition, an ongoing conversation about the basic truths concerning God, the world, people and morality.

Catholic intellectual tradition is marked by inquiry, dialogue and debate.

If ethics is thinking about living well, then the Catholic framework has a contribution to make. If ethical thinking is open to considering concepts and arguments derived from religious thinking, interesting views of what constitutes a good life and how to achieve it enter the picture.

Catholic ethical views, however, do not win out just because they are Catholic. They enter the ethical conversation as do all views, earning their place only if strongly reasoned and able to deal with the intellectual critique offered by others.

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