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AS and A Level: Practical Questions

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  • Peer Reviewed essays 1
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  1. The 21st century has raised more problems for equality than it has solved. Examine and comment on this claim with reference to homosexuality.

    On the other hand, lesbians were never acknowledged or targeted by legislation. In the early 1950s the police enforced laws prohibiting sexual behaviour between men, leading to a number of high profile arrests, such as Alan Turing - who was a scientist, mathematician and war time code breaker. He was convicted in 1952 for 'gross indecency', however in 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an apology. On 3rd September 1957 the Wolfenden Report was published, recommending that 'homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence'. It also stated that 'homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a disease, because in many cases it is the only symptom and is compatible with full mental health in other respects'.

    • Word count: 2828
  2. Examine the key features of utilitarianism and its strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism

    So, if 10 rapists were to rape the same woman, then using the Hedonic Calculus, their pleasure would outweigh the woman's pain. Therefore, it would become justifiable, although to most people this act of quite obviously morally wrong - and this is called the Swine Ethic. Thus, one of the obvious flaws is obviously that there is no protection for the minorities and going by what Bentham said himself 'every person counts as one and not more than one' than why should the person in majority get priority over someone in the minority?

    • Word count: 2620
  3. Humans are Eternal Beings

    One of the most important dualists was Plato. Plato's views changed over time, which is evident in his three books, 'The Timaeus', 'Phaedo' and 'The Republic'. In 'The Timaeus', Plato put forward that the soul, or psyche, gives life to the body - your body is like a machine, and the soul gives it life. Each of us, therefore, has a soul, and this soul must have existed before the body, to give it life. This particular thought raises many ethical issues. In 'Phaedo', Plato redefined his ideas, and divided the soul into two - the mind and the emotions.

    • Word count: 2208
  4. Ethical Issues Involved In The Legislation of Euthanasia?

    A Deontological Ethic is that you have to regard the nature of the act itself. Deontological ethics means obligation or duty and is an approach to ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions. It is sometimes described as "duty"- or "obligation"-based ethics, because deontologists believe that ethical rules "bind you to your duty". This means that if we are looking at Euthanasia, we have to consider the action taking part in the commitment of euthanasia.

    • Word count: 2181
  5. Kant's theory of Ethics

    Kant starts off by arguing that reason is the primary source of knowledge. Therefore, Kant believes that any universal moral law must be based on reason and not on any supernatural or empirical evidence. He argues that every person has an innate sense of morality and so it is possible for people to use reason to work out universal moral laws that everyone can live by 'Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration... the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not merely conjecture them and see them as obscured in darkness or in the transcendent region beyond my horizon: I see them before me.

    • Word count: 2618
  6. animal experimentation

    Some details for 2005 are listed below Dogs 22,000 Cats 3,600 Primates 10,394 Mice 6 million 53% Rats 2.2 million 19% Birds 650,000 5.4% Rabbits 300,000 2.6% Cold Blooded Animals 1.8 million 15% Guinea Pigs 240,000 2.1% "The Animals Act of 1986 insists that no animal experiments be conducted if there is a realistic alternative" (www.defra.gov.uk) Humanitarian organisations and governments have funded studies into alternative. It is estimated that the total spent by the UK government is in the region of �2 million a yearIn 1959, British zoologist William M.

    • Word count: 2829
  7. animal experimentation

    He also argued that the ability to suffer and not the ability to reason should be the criteria we look at when deciding animal testing is right or wrong, if the ability to reason was the criteria used than the humans who had the best reasoning then many humans would still be slaves. Of course this now is rejected by society however they still feel it is morally correct to treat animals as 'things'. Bentham holds the view that instead of treating animals differently because of the lack of reasoning we should treat them similar to us as they have similar pain and pleasure levels.

    • Word count: 2479
  8. "It is impossible to reconcile any kind of determinism with the concept of freewill." Discuss.

    Our common practice of thinking of others and ourselves as accountable is simply not justified! Determinism applies even if there is a "mind-substance", different from the physical stuff of our brain. It seems to imply that there is no freedom for human beings (or for anything else, for that matter). The consequences of determinism seem grave. If no one chooses freely, how can we blame, praise, or punish? How would you look upon another, who acted friendly towards you, if you knew that the person had no choice in the matter?

    • Word count: 2560
  9. Compare Utilitarianism With Kant's Theory of The Categorical Imperative And Explain Which You Think Is The Best To Use For Moral Decision Making.

    Rule Utilitarianism, on the other hand, focuses upon a set of general rules that everyone should follow in order to bring about good for the community. The best example to use, when comparing the two, is an instance of lying. For example, a terrified child runs into a shop and hides under the counter, and shortly afterwards, a mad man, who is angry and carrying a knife also enters the shop. The man asks you if you have seen the child, and through his aggressive attitude you are sure that he intends to cause harm to the child.

    • Word count: 2131
  10. "Religious ethics are not the best approach to environmental issues". Discuss.

    1 Some Christians interpret this statement to mean that the human race has absolute domination over all the earth, including every animal that inhabits it. We can therefore treat the earth as we wish, without any consideration for the harm we may cause to plants or animals, as we are their masters. This view is supported by early Christian writers such as St Thomas Aquinas, who wrote, "all animals are naturally subject to man".2 Singer writes that according to Aquinas "there is no possibility of sinning against non-human animals, or against the natural world."3 This suggests that damaging the environment is in no way improper or sinful.

    • Word count: 2957
  11. Examine the differences in ethical and Christian views concerning homosexuality

    Christians believe that this was because of the men wishing to commit homosexual acts. They feel that there is no necessary analysis of this story as the message is quite clear. Jack T. Chick is a publisher of fundamentalist Christian leaflets and comic books. In one of his children's comic books, entitled "Birds and Bees", he wrote, "The worst city was Sodom. These Sodomites worshipped Satan, were possessed with devils and they hated God. Their stink reached heaven and God was fed up with them.

    • Word count: 2837
  12. Examine the key features of situation ethics, and the main criticisms of it, and how far these lead to the rejection of the theory.

    Also, the emergence of 'the teenager', a concept that had not been acknowledge before as a type of person with his or her own music, fashion and politics, the consequential growing power of the student movement and the rebellious spirit of the rock and roll culture that went hand in hand with the aforementioned new young adult's power, when combined with the other reasons mentioned above, all meant that the scene was set for a radical shift in the social power base.

    • Word count: 2577
  13. Examine what is meant by natural law with reference to morality and analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses

    The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 BCE) in "Nicomachean Ethics" also wrote that although laws may vary from place to place, natural justice is independent and applies to everyone, solidifying the statement that natural law is an absolute ethical theory. The ancient Stoics emphasised the importance of rationality and reason that governs the world and sees human nature as part of one natural order. Aristotle believed that everything in the universe had both an 'Efficient Cause' and a 'Final Cause'. The Efficient Cause is the agent that brings something about or gets things done.

    • Word count: 2635
  14. Religious Ethics are not the best approach to environmental ethics'. Discuss.

    Humanity is placed at the top of Aristotle's hierarchy due to their possession of reason; animals can move and feel pain so come next; plants who can only grow and reproduce are placed at the bottom; and he appears to place no value on inanimate objects as they don't even have a vegetative soul. During the late 18th century and the early 19th century, the thinkers of the enlightenment period, also known as 'the age of reason', emphasised anthropocentric approaches and concluded that reason is the mark of authority.

    • Word count: 2631
  15. The key difference between someone using counselling skills and a qualified and trained counsellor is that 'the counsellor is bound by a code of ethics and practice and carries a set of professional responsibilities' (1) Generally anyone can be trained

    In order for clients to have confidence in the counselling process it is vital that those individuals who say they are counsellors but who do not abide by the BACP Ethical Framework do not call themselves counsellors, as client expectation will become confused and serious damage could be done to the clients well being. Criteria 2 The BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy The BACP Ethical Framework came into force in April 2002 and provides a professional framework to counsellors, outlining key areas of responsibility and rules of conduct.

    • Word count: 2011
  16. What is the task of Kant's groundwork of the metaphysic of morals supposed to accomplish? How does he proceed? Is his project of any relevance for current debates in moral theory?

    Kant believed that this twofold distinction in kinds of knowledge was inadequate to the task of understanding metaphysics. Metaphysics of morals is the 'pure' (non-empirical) part of ethics. David Hume called into question our common sense beliefs about the source and support of our sense perceptions. Hume maintains that we cannot provide a priori or a posteriori justifications for a number of our beliefs like, "Objects and subjects persist identically over time," or "Every event must have a cause." Hume argued that there is no knowledge that could not derive from subjective knowledge alone and he uses causation to justify his ideas.

    • Word count: 2690
  17. The founder of situation ethics, Joseph Fletcher felt that the individual should be of paramount concern and that each ethical situation should be judged in its own context.Fletcher wanted to preserve the Christian principle of agape love

    The absolutism of love is its power to go into concrete situations" Situation ethics regards mainly love and situations ethicists believe that if love is involved the outcome is coming from a good place and produces the right choice or result in a situation, which is why it is appealing and favourable by others to apply in a given situation. Tillich believes that is possible to live a life of just love and this will fulfil the major purpose of human existence.

    • Word count: 2293
  18. Examine the Strengths and Weaknesses of Kants Ethical Theory

    So Kants evidently pre-supposes the existence of 3 things; God, immortality and freedom. So these are the duties humans must perform according to Kant, which he refers to as the 'Categorical Imperative'. 'Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law.' The maxim of my action is my intention, or perhaps better yet, my principle of action.Kant defined an imperative as a statement that declares a certain type of action to be necessary.

    • Word count: 2042
  19. Business environment

    It derives its contents from what the majority perceives of a thing. The countries belong to different culture and traditions, which have different perceptions about the rightness or wrongness in business practices. The surfacing of different International Standards are all there to make sure that businesses are complying with the basic standard practices. Social Accountability 8000 makes sure that the business is being conducted on strictly ethical grounds. Ethical Statement and/or Social Audit report the ethical and social commitment of an enterprise, but it can also be certified. The international business ethics asks for commitment to: 1)

    • Word count: 2601
  20. "Environmental policy can't be based solely on efficiency arguments. Issues of ethics are at least as important." Discuss

    The rights of nature will be brought under the umbrella of Ethical issues and discussed from a policy perspective. What economists mean by "economic efficiency", is that "in an ideal economic system, goods worth more than they cost to produce get produced, goods worth less than they cost to produce do not." (D. Friedman. 2004) This holds firm throughout this discussion, along with the idea of efficiency as it is defined as both: "The production of the desired effects or results with minimum waste of time, effort or skill," (dictionary.com 2004) and as "A measure of effectiveness; specifically, the useful work output divided by the energy input in any system" (dictionary.com 2004).

    • Word count: 2825
  21. "Humanitarian intervention, which is ruled out by realism and the morality of states, can only be justified by a cosmopolitan morality." Discuss.

    Most say that, where there is gross infringement of human rights, humanitarian intervention is justified. Humanitarian intervention is characterized typically by military intervention in order to diminish human suffering. It can be argued that military intervention is indeed less severe than economic sanctions, as sanctions can affect a larger number of people. Mason and Wheeler provide an excellent definition of humanitarian intervention: "...Humanitarian intervention only occurs when one or more states intervene with military force, or the threat of such force, in a territory that is beyond their jurisdiction, where a weighty and non-instrumental part of their doing so is to end the suffering or oppression of some group who live in it.

    • Word count: 2609
  22. Discuss some of the issues raised in Meta-Ethics. How convincing is the view that, when talking of morality, we are talking about facts?

    --> Remember, do not waffle. An examiner will not assess 65% waffle and 35% real content in an exam essay! --> Keep your essay responses thorough, yet concise - again, you have very little time to respond to questions! --> Finally, it remains for me to wish you very good luck, happy last minute revision, and a most successful first exam! a. Discuss some of the issues raised in Meta-Ethics. Ethics is the study of how people behave, and how they should behave. It is based on ideas of what is morally 'good'.

    • Word count: 2104
  23. To what extent, if at all, should conscience be ignored when making ethical decisions?

    (Considering Conscience from Dialogue Magazine by David Torevell, p.21) According to Aquinas, our conscience should always be followed as our minds have a natural desire and ability to reason between 'right' and 'wrong' (recta ratio). Whether a rational or an intuitive approach is taken, Christian scholars have insisted on the importance of conscience. For John Henry Newman, conscience is the standard against which we will be judged. Despite the importance given to conscience, there may also be situations in which conscience conflicts with other ethical considerations. For instance, when speaking of active euthanasia, a utilitarian might claim that it would be 'right' to ignore your conscience and help the person relieve themselves from pain and suffering, and so creating the greatest good.

    • Word count: 2069
  24. Philosophy and Ethics: A look at Confucianism and Taoism and their Affects on the Ethics and culture of the Eastern World.

    "The Way" is to lead a modest life using the elements of silence and nature. Taoists argue that nature is the way and is the path to wise living; it makes life "simple and happy". According to Taoists, wisdom is held to the highest regard and is valued above goodness. The beginning of wisdom is silence, an ideal being is quiet, mature, and does to attempt to convince others what is true or false. The ideal being automatically knows this. The Tao is the essence of all that is right, complications are present in people's lives because they choose to make a conscience decision to complicate their lives.

    • Word count: 2111
  25. If ethics are an individual's belief about what is right or wrong or good or bad, then how can managers encourage organisational members to act ethically?

    Businesses need to develop the kind of environment that promotes ethical development and they can only do that from the top down (Orme and Ashton, 2003). As businesses need to develop an ethical environment for their organisation, members of top management can do a number of things to encourage organisational members to act ethically. In order to successfully carry out this idea of having organisational members acting ethically is to implement a comprehensive ethics program. This program will consist of several different actions which include hiring individuals with high ethical standards, establish codes of ethics and decision rules, lead by example, delineate job goals and provide ethical training (Robbins et al., 2003).

    • Word count: 2082

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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