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AS and A Level: Practical Questions

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  • Peer Reviewed essays 1
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  1. Peer reviewed

    Give an account of Fletcher's Theory of Situation Ethics.

    4 star(s)

    The first one is legalism. This is where someone obeys the law, always sticks to what the rules say. The second is antinomianism, when people ignore or go against the law or rules. This theory lies in-between the two, this is known as Situationism. Each situation should be dealt with individually, you should remember the rules but be prepared to put them aside, it allows people to think for themselves. He believed that if one was to always to stick to the rules, it produces the 'immorality of morality'. This means that in some situations, if you go by what the law says, the outcome will be immoral.

    • Word count: 545
  2. A Kantian would never allow abortion. Discuss.

    becomes a categorical imperative because it can be universalised and therefore we should always help others. It could be seen that by assisting a woman in having an abortion, the doctor is helping her and therefore acting in a Kantian way. In addition, if the foetus would have an unhappy or difficult life if born, then by having an abortion, the woman may feel she is helping the foetus by saving it from that life. I agree that sometimes such as the cases aforementioned, abortion would be allowed by a Kantian.

    • Word count: 601
  3. What Is Ethics?

    One can see, there are many viewpoints held about the origin, and for that matter there ought to be no right or wrong answer, because if there was, there would be only a set list of rules and regulations to which everyone abided to. Being ethical is not the same as following the law. Law often incorporates ethical standards to which most citizens adhere to. But laws, like feelings, can deviate from what is ethical. Our own pre-Civil War slavery laws and treatment of black people in our community are obvious examples of laws that deviate from what is ethical.

    • Word count: 801
  4. God Knows the ethical decisions we will make. Discuss

    There are three main approaches we should consider when answering this question; Hard Determinism, Libertarianism and Soft Determinism/ Compatibles. Hard Determinism is the theory of Universal Causation maintains that everything in the universe (including human action) has a cause which precedes it. This is the basis of science, if it wasn't the case that one event or set of circumstances lead to another, scientific observation, and the conclusions drawn, would be pointless and meaningless. John Locke gave the example of a man who wakes up in a room that, unknown to him, is locked from the outside.

    • Word count: 886
  5. Free essay

    Explain the categorical Imperative as a tool for moral decision making

    Kant was a deontologist who proposed an absolute stone cold objective unbreakable moral law which he called the Categorical Imperative. The Categorical Imperative is based upon Kant's idea that morality is derived from rationality and all moral judgments are logically supported. The Categorical Imperative is an absolute non negotiable universal moral law that holds up regardless of context or circumstance, therefore it applies to every single person on this Earth, not depending on religion or society. Kant was absolutely unwavering about this point; what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong, consequently making it everyone's duty to abide in the same equal way.

    • Word count: 759
  6. Some ethical theories are of more help than others when making decisions about sexual issues

    So with that he completely argues against the use of contraception and also homosexuality. Aquinas said sex is used for procreation so using contraception to stop it is wrong as it goes against the natural order of things. Similarly with same sex marriages, being gay is not wrong but acting on it is as there is no potential to reproduce. Natural laws belief of sexual issues could be argued to be an effective theory to make sexual decisions. It gives you clear rules on what is right or wrong and there is no room for interpretation.

    • Word count: 490
  7. Asses the claim that it is the definition of human life that lies at the heart of the abortion debate.

    It becomes clear which cells are human cells when the primitive streak appears; however, people have argued that all body cells are human cells, but cutting off a limb is not considered murder. In my opinion, this is a weak argument, as the fact that the human cells have the potential to grow into a human being is not taken into account, so an early stage embryo is in no way comparable to a limb, as a limb has no potential.

    • Word count: 525
  8. Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy. The term is derived from the Greek word ethos which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition.

    This involves considering questions of justification, such as, What are the foundations of morality? How do we know them to be true, or good, or right? It also involves questions of motivation, such as Why should we obey the demands of morality? Or, what motivates us to behave ethically? Ethics as action-guiding Ethics is concerned with norms - with standards of conduct - therefore it is concerned with what ought to be the case rather than merely what is the case.

    • Word count: 585
  9. "Virtue ethics is of little use when dealing with sexual ethics". Discuss - 35 marks

    For some this might seem like a good approach to sexual ethics because it allows us free will and doesn't force us to be tied to an ethical theory to make our decisions for us. However, for others it can be seen as a bad approach to sexual ethics because it doesn't provide guidelines as to how we should act, which implies we can act in any way we want, even if it a bad way. In this respect it would be a weak approach to sexual ethics and one where Aquinas' natural law might be better as it tells us exactly what is wrong such as "acts with a person of the same sex".

    • Word count: 979
  10. Absolutist Rules Always Good or Sometimes Bad?

    So, in cases of dispute, and absolute rule would prove valuable. Absolutism also applies to everyone, and provides people with a good basis on how to treat others. They therefore abolish prejudice and discrimination, which eliminates problems such as racism and promotes equality. This can only be a good thing. On the other hand, absolutist views can also cause many problems, and, ultimately, be wrong.

    • Word count: 527
  11. Explain how a follower of natural law might approach the issues surrounding Abortion.

    The first Precept to consider when thinking about abortion from a Natural Law follower's state of mind would be Reproduction. The precept of Reproduction states that it is always right to encourage reproduction, and most nearly always wrong to prevent reproduction. Applying this to abortion would result in a follower of Natural Law believing that abortion is wrong. This is because the act of aborting a foetus, or baby, is preventing the act of reproduction, and therefore going against one of Aquinas' Primary Precepts; Preservation of Life.

    • Word count: 852
  12. Explain the main weaknesses of Benthams version of Utilitarianism. Does Mills version of Utilitarianism avoid the problems associated with Benthams?

    This is a huge flaw in his reasoning, as to 99% of people murder is ultimately always wrong. Another weakness one could pick out of Bentham's version of Utilitarianism is that there is huge difficulty in weighing up how much pleasure is actually achieved from an action. In the same example as the last, take 3 men and replace them with women, so we have 4 a side. The men continue to beat the women. Does the women's pain now outweigh the men's pleasure?

    • Word count: 847
  13. Critically Asses Virtue Theory & Explain the concept of a miracle

    It helps us have a sense of our own innate morals and use our own judgments on a situation which avoids the problem of having conflict between personal feelings and what the theory tells us to do. Another advantage is that it can be accommodated by both religious and secular ethics. Jesus can be seen as the ultimate virtuous person for whom we should aspire to, or the inspiration can come from peers. It does not set unrealistic goals and is pretty simple in essence.

    • Word count: 974
  14. Free essay

    Hard Determinism Negates Free Will, Discuss

    The evidence presented suggests that free will is an illusion. This point is best described by Loches analogy of the 'locked room.' As a hard determinist, Loche's analogy demonstrates how we are ignorant of the restriction opposed against us. It is evident that the Hard Determinism argument presents a logical, scientific theory which has many strengths to support how it negates free will. The Hard Determinism approach has scientific verification to support the argument. Furthermore, it appeals to our understanding of life as nearly in ever decision we make prior events are always thought of.

    • Word count: 898
  15. Virtue Ethics is of little use when applied to environmental issues

    It instead suggests that in order to make ourselves more virtuous and to achieve the ideal of eudaimonia, we must objectively develop a virtuous understanding of our place in the environment. This is just one way in which virtue ethics is effective when applied to environmental issues. As eudaimonia is the prime objective virtue ethics encourages human flourishing and human development. It does not focus on what is important for humanity to survive as utilitarianism explains, but instead on what would make an environmentally good person who can survive.

    • Word count: 896
  16. Natural Law. To achieve the final cause in life, Aquinas set out cardinal virtues. These virtues were made by the Stoics and they reflect moral life, they are as followed; prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.

    He believed that justice was an absolute; this meant that only intrinsically good or bad. Kant said that only good will is a good so if someone acts out of good will, their exterior and interior acts will be good. b) On the other hand, people argue that Natural Law fails to be a practical ethical theory. A major weakness to this theory is the primary precept of worship God. The main weakness to this is not everyone believes in God so how can they worship God if they don't believe in him. It is not a practical theory if some people can obey God as it is their religions and others cannot put the theory into practise as they don't believe in a religion.

    • Word count: 920
  17. Abosolute and Relative morality

    There is no objective morality, or if there is it cannot be discovered; decisions are not related to anything that is absolute so there is not point trying to establish moral rules. A perfect example of the two beliefs being combined is the countries judicial system; in simple the judicial system does not treat every case of murder for example as the same, they weigh up the circumstances of the unique situation and judge weather their actions where carried out with malice intent or just cause.

    • Word count: 583
  18. Explain Anselm ontological argument

    Anslem starts his argument b saying God 'that than which noting greater can be conceived.' According to this definition God, is the greatest, most perfect being possible. Then Anslem goes on further to argue that God must exist or it would not be 'that then which noting greater can be conceived. Anslem's has two arguments written in his book Proslogion. In his first argument he says that god exist, both in understanding and in reality.

    • Word count: 483
  19. Hick's views on body and soul

    We are as we are because of our genetic make up, not the efforts of our souls. Hick's view is that a person includes both physical and mental, the human being is therefore a 'psycho physical unity'. According to Hicks what lives after death is a replica or a duplicate. It is God who creates the replica, once we die. Hick's views are in keeping with the Christian doctrine of resurrection as outlined by St Paul in 1 Corinthians: 'When buried, it is ugly and weak: when raised, it will be beautiful and strong. .....There is, of course, a physical body, so there has to be a spiritual body.'

    • Word count: 896
  20. Explain how the ethics of Religion you have studied might approach issues surrounding euthanasia.

    This concept is referred to as the sanctity of life. Catholic teaching argues against euthanasia for the reason that it believes in the positive significance of suffering. Pope John Paul II has written 'It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms the souls.' The Roman Catholic Church teaches ordinary treatments for the dying such as feeding must always be continued, but those 'extraordinary' treatments such as a complicated operation that is unlikely to succeed, need not to be given. In terms of natural law, the advancement of medical technology has produced an ethical grey area.

    • Word count: 855
  21. Relativist Ethical Theory

    You decide the rightness of an action by the end it produces. A choice that results in a good end is morally better than one that results in a bad end. Joseph Fletcher's view on laws was that there are no absolutist values or laws. The exception being the law of Agape, the law of love. Situation ethics is seen by most ethical scholars to be the middle ground between legalism and antinomian relativism. Fletcher also put forward the idea that Jesus was a situationist, rather than most thought, an absolutist. Traditional Christian thinkers rejected situation ethics.

    • Word count: 989
  22. Does a declaration of war justify behaviour that would be unacceptable in peacetime?

    There are also behaviors such as propaganda, espionage and deliberate infringement of human rights that are more doubtful and are usually seen as unacceptable in peacetime. Certain examples of violent behaviour in peacetime in hindsight appear unacceptable, yet at the time those guilty were not prosecuted. There have been a number of incidents when armed Police officers have shot dead suspects who were not carrying a weapon. None of the police officers who killed those people were convicted. This is because killing in defence of innocent life is acceptable in peacetime, and the boundaries and conditions can be bended to suit the individual.

    • Word count: 849
  23. How far is killing in warfare more justifiable than other kinds of killing?

    Obviously, in this case killing in war is no different, except possibly even more atrocious merely due to the much higher death toll. There are different kinds of pacifists. Christian absolutists believe that violence can be overcome by suffering. Like Jesus, such pacifists reason that turning the other cheek can be more powerful and meaningful than any violence. Political pacifists, such as Martin Luther King, have been notably successful in the past through non violent protest. For instance, the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott had hundreds of blacks avoid public transport in order to change the current segregation laws.

    • Word count: 925
  24. Is the term 'Just War' now outdated?

    or 'jus in bello' (justice in the conduct of battle). Later, Thomas Aquinas connected and organized the theory; in the Summa Theologicae he discussed the justifications for going to war. The legitimate authority principle prevented civil uprisings and feudal wars. Originally, the King was anointed and seen as responsible before God for his military actions; thus only the King had the right to wage war on God's enemies. However throughout history this has been challenged; for instance, the Communist revolution violently established new authority over the previously existing autocratic ruler.

    • Word count: 859

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss the view that only a religious ethic can provide an acceptable basis for medical ethics.

    "In conclusion I think that a religious ethic is by no means the only acceptable basis for medical ethics. Although some Christian ethics will provide a stable answer for every situation, an answer that will never change and therefore will have clear-cut boundaries, not every person in the world will ever be of the same religion, and therefore it cannot be universal. Therefore a non-religious ethic which everyone could agree on seems more acceptable, such as one that allows situations to be considered, because therefore a religious ethic could be used in certain circumstances if the people involved would like to do so, as that happens to be their own "situation"; similarly if someone does not want to apply a religious ethical theory then they are not obliged to do so, because again this option would apply to their situation. Therefore situationist ethics that are not based on religion can be made universal, allowing religious ethics to be applied or not according to the wishes of the people involved and this seems to me to be the only acceptable basis for medical ethics, an ethic that will allow for everyone's personal beliefs."

  • Discuss critically the belief that conscience is the voice of God.

    "To conclude, I do not firmly believe that conscience is the voice of God. Mainly because of the difficulties which arise with conflicting consciences. There are a number of religions with competing claims about truth, making people sincerely believe different things on a wide variety of ethical and religious issues. Also, atheists say that conscience is very important to them and if they do not believe in God then how can conscience be the voice of God? Surely if conscience was the voice of God then atheists would find it hard to have conscience in their lives."

  • Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of natural moral law as a definitive ethical theory

    "In trying to decide then, if natural moral law can be held as a definitive ethical theory one has to realise that although the theory isn't as rigid as it first appears it is still faced with problems, which may well, be insurmountable. The conclusions of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the prohibition of activities such as artificial contraception and homosexual acts, as already shown, can be subject to convincing challenge. It is also important to note that in the absence of clear guidelines it is impossible to know definitively what is and what is not natural and so therefore rendering the issue wholly subjective. Once an issue becomes subjective, and it is difficult to produce an instance when subjectivity would be absent, natural moral law has to fail as a definitive ethical theory."

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