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AS and A Level: Practical Questions

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. "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
  9. 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
  10. Business Ethics

    The power and influence of business in society is greater than ever before. Evidence suggests that many members of the public are uneasy with such developments. Business ethics helps us to understand why this is happening, what its implications might be, and how we might address this situation. 2.) Business have the potential to provide a major contribution to our societies, in term of producing the products and services that we want, providing employment, paying taxes, and acting as an engine for economic development, to name just a few examples that how or indeed whether, this contribution is made raises significant ethical issues that go to the heart of the social role in business in contemporary society.

    • Word count: 5103
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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

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