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AS and A Level: Practical Questions

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  1. What is Christian ethics?

    Christians believe the scriptures transmit the Word of God: this gives them authority. The weight of authority given to the Bible is dependent on what exactly a Christian believes about the books. Some Christians believe that humans were inspired by God to write down the scriptures which means the writings are related to the time and culture when they were recorded and may contain human errors. This makes them a useful source of guidance to people but does not make their contents absolute.

    • Word count: 1033
  2. To what extent would a follower of Natural Law allow euthanasia?

    Although the Primary Precept of 'the preservation of human life' would lead to the Secondary Precept of 'no euthanasia', these Secondary Precepts are dependent on our own judgements of what actually to do in a given situation and are open to our own reasoning. According to the Secondary Precepts, euthanasia may not always be wrong and may, in special and rare occasions, be acceptable. In relation to the Doctrine of Double Effect, a literal follower of Natural Law would not allow euthanasia.

    • Word count: 1103
  3. Contraception. In this essay I will be analysing and examining whether the use of condoms is acceptable through the different philosophies I have studied.

    The theory of Utilitarianism was originated from John Mill and Jeremy Bentham in the 17th to the 18th century. Jeremy Bentham was born in 1748 and died in 1832 while John Stuart Mill was born in 1806 and died in 1873 (Ethical Studies Robert Bowie second edition page36)1. Utilitarianism is a philosophical theory of morality and "how one should act". It states that one should act so as to maximize the amount of happiness in the world. Utilitarianism is also defined as the greatest good for the greatest number with pain over pleasure, and is the opposite of deontological ethics, which state that actions can only be universal if they are done with duty or good intention.

    • Word count: 1246
  4. What is Natural Moral Law? What are the strengths and weaknesses of NML?

    This quote shows Cicero's beliefs that there is one universal law which applies to everyone. The stoics taught that the world was ordered according to this law. Cicero believed that Humans have reason and therefore can understand nature. He also believed that the greatest evil is emotion. Emotion goes against Natural law; such example would be the love between one man and one woman (natural). However, if one of either party was to have an affair, they will be acting on their emotions to go against nature. Overall, the stoics believed that we should fit in the world or fight against it in some futile way.

    • Word count: 1529
  5. Consider the view that humans have no free will.

    Vice versa if we were forced at gunpoint to assist a stranger we would not deserve honour or praise because it was an action that was not freely undertaken. If in ignorance one performs an action which has an unpredictable immoral consequence, then we're again not blameworthy because there was no way of knowing it could have caused harm or had ill-effect on another. Unfortunately these situations can get evermore complicated, if someone isn't entirely in control of their actions (e.g.

    • Word count: 1387
  6. Should capital punishment be reinstated?

    It is self-evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes, either within prison or after escaping or after being released from it. As well as this, it is a lot cheaper that having to keep criminals in prison who need food, sanitation and clothing. Money is not an inexhaustible product and the government would be able to spend it on more important thing like improving the economy, schools and heath care rather than on the long term imprisonment of murderers and rapists.

    • Word count: 1434
  7. Virtue ethics is of little use when dealing with practical ethics Discuss.

    However this good human life is one lived in harmony and co-operation with other people, since Aristotle saw people as not only rational beings but also as social beings. Aristotle saw two types of virtues, intellectual virtues and moral virtues. Aristotle compares the virtues to skills acquired through practice and habit, e.g. we acquire a skill by practising the activities involved in the skill. To become virtuous is rather like playing a musical instrument- it needs practice. Aristotle believed that all people have the potential to develop moral and intellectual virtues, only a few actually achieve this- these were gentlemen philosophers and today we could say that this depends in part on social factors.

    • Word count: 1800
  8. Arguing against the death penalty. Truly there is no purpose to the Death Penalty other than vengeance, yet it seems that our society has sunk to such a level that even vengeance is acceptable to most.

    The end result is the same and the feeling with which it is carried out is the same. There are, even, many qualities of the death penalty that surpass the moral obscenity of a criminal act of murder. Where then is the difference between a murder and an execution? How can one form of murder be right and another be wrong? How can the same deed, carried out by two different people, be one time evil and another time divine? How, furthermore, can a morally adverse action promote the morality, let alone the continued existence, of human society?

    • Word count: 1909
  9. Explain Aquinass cosmological argument

    Aquinas however, wanted to prove the Christian God and creator. He, like Aristotle believed that the fact that there is a universe rather than nothing proves the need for an external force to lead to the existence of things. Aquinas observed that an object moves or changes when an external force is applied, for example, wood becomes hot when it comes into contact with fire (A posteriori knoledge) .This cannot go back to infinity therefore the universe is infinite and there must have been a first mover which is not moved itself.

    • Word count: 1884
  10. Explain religious and ethical arguments in favour of Euthanasia

    Are we asking too much of a doctor to decide what's best for all concerned? Many people argue that matters of life and death are best left to God as a human cannot be a truly impartial judge. Some Christians argue in favour of Euthanasia as they believe it demonstrates the compassion and Christian Agape that Jesus told us to practice when he commands us to "love your neighbour as yourself" (Mathew Ch 5). If you were experiencing intolerable pain and suffering then you would want someone to help you end that suffering with dignity through Euthanasia.

    • Word count: 1116
  11. We are free to make ethical decisions, discuss

    He chooses to stay in the room, believing he has chosen freely. In reality, he has no option. However, his ignorance of this gives him an illusion of freedom, which supports the idea that we believe that we are free to make choices but we are already predetermined, suggesting that we are not free to make ethical decisions as we are not the ones to make a choice. If determinism is true, then not only are we wrong for punishing people who murder or rape, but we are wrong for praising those who do 'good' things such as giving to charities.

    • Word count: 1114
  12. Self-interest plays no part in genuine morality

    A good will is a 'motivated' will to achieve our end in a moral way, but even if the results are not necessarily good for everyone the good will is good in itself. Kant also says that it is our duty to be moral. We can know what is moral by the categorical imperatives. "I ought never to act except in such way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law". A maxim means ground rule or principle.

    • Word count: 1332
  13. Examine the key features of utilitarianism and its strengths and weaknesses

    The problem with the a posteriori proof, is that although we see the universe as it is now, we didn't see the universe at the time of creation, therefore we have no way of being absolutely certain that the same rules of physics applied then as do now, the chances are they did, but we can't be certain of that. Aristotle was of the view that: 'nothing can come from nothing', in which he means that how else did the chain come into existence unless it was caused by something external, i.e.

    • Word count: 1085
  14. Moral absolutism. Moralism seems to be an essential component of American conservatism, whose adherents feel far more comfortable evaluating ethicality in terms of simple rules (i.e. morals) than in terms of harm/benefit.

    Moralism seems to be an essential component of American conservatism, whose adherents feel far more comfortable evaluating ethicality in terms of simple rules (i.e. morals) than in terms of harm/benefit. This sort of thinking seems to form the basis of much of the extreme right's attitude towards homosexuality, for example: homosexuals don't follow the rule that "people should want to marry members of the opposite sex", so therefore homosexuals aren't people. It also seems to be presumed that if you're "not a person", then you're less than or worse than a person, entitled to less respect and fewer (if any)

    • Word count: 1051
  15. Do we need God to have morals?

    It basically suggests that God is restraining us from doing what we like. In this essay, things that need to be considered are people's opinions and that we all have different beliefs and not to make criticism towards a viewpoint. Also if there a profound relationship between ethics and belief in God? Some religions such as Christianity argue that we do need God to have morals. Christians believe that there is God and that he is creator of the earth and mankind, that he has great power over us so there is a necessity in order to have meanings and morals in our life and that he enlightens us with what is right and what is strongly advised against.

    • Word count: 1135
  16. People should always do their duty. Explain how Kant understood this concept.

    Kantian ethics is a deontological theory. It is based on duty and what people ought to do, rather than the end consequences of an action (and therefore isn't teleological). Immanuel Kant believed that to be morally good, someone has to do their duty and use good will in all their actions. Therefore his theory says that we should not use emotion in our moral judgements as it gets in the way of what we ought to do. We should combine good will and duty and this ought to always bring the best outcome.

    • Word count: 1338
  17. The use of the Categorical Imperative makes no room for compassionate treatment of women who want an abortion. Discuss.

    This is largely because different groups have different opinion on when life begins. For example, Roman Catholics believe that life begins and conception and therefore they think that abortion is never acceptable (absolutism); whilst the Protestants say that the situation and the potential mother's circumstances should be taken into account (relativism). As different people have different views on abortion, it can't be universalised and therefore could not be agreed on by using the formula for the universal law. The Second Maxim that the Categorical Imperative takes into account is the formula of ends in itself- in other words not using someone else as a means to an end.

    • Word count: 1145
  18. Is Any Account of the State of Nature Convincing?

    Hobbes puts forward that the most fundamental desire of mankind is that of 'self preservation', and that it is indeed a 'natural right'. Hobbes believes that, as there is no law or authority to stop us acting on this desire, we are liable to do almost anything to stay alive, with no regard for the well-being of others. As this is a fundamental desire for the whole of mankind, Hobbes reasons that one person's desire would eventually conflict with another's desire to survive, and as there is no ruling authority, there would be nothing to stop us from acting out in any way we see fit.

    • Word count: 1166
  19. Examine and comment on the view that the principle of the sanctity of life should always be considered of first Importance in medical ethics

    Christians believe in the sanctity of life, this means that holy as it is a gift from God also human life is also sacred as they believe we were created in the nature of God. When doses of painkillers are used to help ease a person's suffering, and as a result of these the person ultimately dies, this is understood as 'Doctrine of double effect'. The intention is not to kill the person, but to reduce suffering. In the same way the Church does not believe that doctors should use any 'extraordinary treatment' to keep people alive against the odds.

    • Word count: 1354
  20. The only punishment that can achieve justice is retribution DISCUSS

    therefore society has created rules and views according to a collective consensus (conventional morality). Despite collective views, some people believe in absolute morality, this can be religious or secular. From a religious point of view, the deontological commands of God would account for the absolute wrongs and rights, for example the Ten Commandments. However many people think these are outdated views and people should not be punished for them as they are no longer viewed as sinful for example 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'2 However commandment, 'You shall not murder.'3 is seen as an absolute moral by the majority of people, whether this has religious influence or is an innate instinct is unclear.

    • Word count: 1002
  21. Evil and Suffering

    painful experience may not challenge our belief that God exists, what may be at risk is our confidence in a God we can freely worship and love, and in whose love we can feel secure. Some suggest that evil is merely the name we give to inexplicable, nonsensical occurrences that defy explanation; that is why they are evil. However, some believe that evil is necessary, as it is merely a deprivation of good that provides contrast and allows us to appreciate the good God has given us.

    • Word count: 1006
  22. Free essay

    Explain What Is Meant By natural law

    This differs slightly from Thomas Aquinas' view as he believes in precepts that must be abided by. Aristotle's ideas can be tied with natural law, such as the 4 causes. Aristotle explains in his work that every object has a specific nature, purpose and function. It is based on the religious conviction that God created the world, creating a sense of order and purpose to reflect his will. Furthermore, he believes that every object has a supreme good, for humans that are happiness.

    • Word count: 1298
  23. Utilitarianism. Identify the main problems of Utilitarianism. To what extent do these make Utilitarianism unacceptable?

    John Stuart Mill was one of the most educated philosophers. 'He was not allowed to go to public school, but was very carefully educated from infancy under the tutelage of his father.'2 At the ages of 8 he had mastered several languages and by the age of 12 he had worked his way through many of the philosophical classics. His father was a friend of Bentham and followed him in the idea that 'a mans character and even his intellect can be completely determined by his education.'3 Mill set out to correct Bentham's theory as he thought it was too broad in the areas it covered and that he could adjust the theory.

    • Word count: 1830
  24. Evaluate the claim that conscience is the voice of God

    Aquinas said that they had followed an apparent food, rather than real food, so in effect their conscience was mistaken. Aquinas divided the conscience in to two parts, Synderesis and Conscienta, which is distinguishing between right and wrong and making appropriate decisions. He didn't believe tat the actions of the conscience were always correct. He said that as long as you apply the moral principles that your conscience has shown you, and then you are following the correct course of action.

    • Word count: 1464
  25. Religion and Morality

    The Divine Command Theory tells us that our morals are set by a divine power: God. This means everything that God tells us is moral and that we should not judge this as it is the word of God, and God's word is good. But surely, if we are just doing what God says, this takes away our free will, which God gave us, and it undermines the basis of Christianity, when God has said he wants us to choose him rather than to be forced to follow him.

    • Word count: 1045

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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