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AS and A Level: Practical Questions

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  1. Outline the main features of Utilitarianism andExamine critically criticisms that have been offered against utilitarianism

    In this situation a Utilitarian would kill the man in question and save all the others as you are acting with the 'greatest good for the greatest number' and killing one man for the survival of a vast amount of people is seen by Utilitarian's as the right thing to do. Bentham would go about arguing this using hedonic calculus. This is were he created a way in calculating how much pleasure and avoidance of pain, could be brought about by different actions.

    • Word count: 1728
  2. does universial morality exist?

    This essay will also look at the reason and the relative opinions on each possibility. Universal Morality projects that objective laws and absolutism exist in our universe prohibiting the possibility of subjective moral concepts. So when one thinks he is being morally individual he is not because Absolutism permits that everyone follows the same system of 'right' and 'wrong' Absolutism is a meta-ethical view that holds strong opinions on the means to do right. For instance if one were to lie even if it were to promote a good deed, it is considered immoral.

    • Word count: 1020
  3. Explain what is meant by 'moral relativism'

    For example, in an absolute moral system, a rule that applies to a Muslim woman living if Afghanistan is equally applicable to a farmer in rural Canada. Another example would be Christian Churches preaching the Ten Commandments as a guide to knowing what one should not do: 'Do not murder', 'Do not steal', 'Do not bear false witnesses' and so on. However, moral relativists, in contrast, know there to be nothing which is absolutely right or wrong as there is no universal standard by which we can measure our behaviour or our actions.

    • Word count: 1199
  4. Analyse and explain the strengths and weaknesses of deontology

    We must then use our powers of rationality to evaluate whether this would lead to self-contradiction when universalised. Kant postulated that in a world where everyone thought it was ethically permissible to lie, the concept of telling the truth would carry no meaning, since no one would be able to rely on anyone else not to lie at any given point. Hence, the very meaning of the word 'lie' would lose all practical value, and it is therefore contradictory to propose using the rule 'it is right for everyone to lie when they want to' in such a world.

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  5. Expalin the concept of Moral Relativism

    Fletcher's theory is from a Christian perspective, but he felt that Christians needed to escape from following absolutist principles like the Ten Commandments and that Christian morality was about blind obedience instead of autonomy, taking responsibility for ones own actions and decisions. He said that legalism was wrong because it often lead to people doing the supposedly right thing without thinking of the consequences. For instance a mentally ill person is raped but, decides to follow laws forbidding abortion present in her culture.

    • Word count: 1433
  6. 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.

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  7. Subjectivism as an Ethical Theory

    and have a feeling of life and death and immortality, and after it is over I feel very sad but very fine' Basically, Hemmingway argued that if you accept that an action which has good consequences for you as good, then even if the action is deemed wrong by others, it is still a right action because you personally think it is good for you. Effectively, Hemmingway is arguing that morality depends on the feeling of the individual. However, this does not allow any room for judgement or criticism from others and so moral subjectivism is said to have the

    • Word count: 1098
  8. Emotivism as an Ethical Theory

    That is, if all conduct is simply about how we feel, can anything be right or wrong? Can we not prove, in some rational manner, that the truth is preferable to the lie? Loyalty better than deceit? Many people argue that surely we can appeal to something more substantial than just my feelings of approval or disapproval? One particular view of philosophy argues that such questions cannot be answered by philosophy. This is called Logical Positivism. The Vienna Circle among whom R. Carnap, M. Schlick and O. Neurath, were the most famous founding members, first conceived this idea.

    • Word count: 1794
  9. Situation Ethics

    The cab driver said " I, my father and grandfather before him and their fathers have always been straight ticket Republicans" Fletcher's friends replied saying "I take it that you will vote republican as well?" The Cab driver responded with something that stuck with Fletcher's. He said, "No, there are times when a man has to push his principles aside and do the right thing". According to Fletcher, there are only three possible approaches to ethics: 1. The legalistic, 2.

    • Word count: 1254
  10. Identify the main problems of Utilitarianism. To what extent do these make Utilitarianism unacceptable?

    It is concerned with the majority, and the majority is usually morally just. With the majority's rights being primary, chances of prejudice in society are unlikely. If a society were to be utilitarian then it would be a society free of prejudices, the majority would be cared for despite race, gender, age, class, ability (or disability). This is one major advantage of utilitarianism. Secondly, Utilitarianism offers compromise and fairness as each case is to be judged on its own merit.

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  11. RE euthanasia for and against

    Suicide is not illegal, however, assisting it is. Anyone who tries to bring about the death of another is to blame.2 However, if the actions were done with the intention of compassion, a manslaughter charge can be issued instead of murder. Anyone found assisting suicide could be imprisoned for up to 14 years however for compassionate intentions, a suspended sentence can be issued.3 There is also an instance where euthanasia can occur and no charges can be brought about, this is called 'the double effect'.

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  12. is abortion justified to save the mother's life

    It is a principle based on Genesis which states that God formed all human beings and hence all human life has an intrinsic moral value. To expand, human life in itself is worthwhile, there is no other justification for it's value but the fact that it is alive. Hence, human life is sacred because it is created by God. God creates life so He must be the one who has control over human life's end as well as its beginning.

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  13. 'Euthanasia should be legalised. Agree or Disagree?'

    They argue that it should be on offer as one option among many, along with the kind of care of patients with a terminal illness is offered by hospitals and hospices. This argument is maintained by John Stuart Mill who, in his book On Liberty (1859), argued that in matters that do not concern others, individuals should have full autonomy: 'The only part of the conduct of any one, for which (a citizen) is amenable to society, is that which concerns others.

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  14. Sexual Ethics

    There has been controversy and debate regarding homosexual ministers in the Anglican and Catholic Church for years. But for many of those years, homosexuality was a criminal wrong doing, for which gays could be imprisoned or fined and many gay men would marry heterosexually to deny to the law, the church or even family and friends or themselves. This was up until the homosexual reform act in 1967, after which society's view of gay couples became a less disdainful one and in 2004 the civil partnership act made gay marriages as legally valid as heterosexual ones.

    • Word count: 1072
  15. Capital Punishment

    It was partly because of the Christians that the act has been abolished. One of the key figures of the time was Pope John Paul II - he spoke of Capital Punishment as the 'culture of death'. In his encyclical 'Evangelium Vitae' he declared his 'near' total opposition to the death penalty, his 'near' opposition has only one case in which the punishment is appropriate "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady improvement in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."4 At the time of voting for

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  16. 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.

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  17. 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
  18. Explain what is meant by calling an ethical theory relativist or absolutist.

    are shadows of the certain truth found in the World of the Forms. This strengthens the theory of Religious absolutism, that everyone is based on the same universal standards, for example both an American and an Indian would both be equally wrong for killing for whatever reason. The deontological view is that there are moral rules that cannot be broken and that the important aspect is not the consequence, but the action itself. To a deontologist, the result never justifies the action, for example, you should never kill because the deed of killing is wrong.

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  19. 1. A) Morality is derived from religion and its teachings

    Likewise, religious authority in Judaism provides basis for morals from the Torah and 10 Commandments, from the Talmud (an encyclopaedia of rules) and the Halakah and again from their own reason and conscience. To give a closing example of how morals can be traced to religious authority, we must look at Islam. The Quran (the revelation of Allah), the Hadith ( the sayings of Muhammad), the Sunnah (traditions of The Prophet) and Ulama (a gathering of Muslim scholars); all provide religious authority for practising Muslims. A heteronomist would agree with statement A by providing many valid reasons for this belief.

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  20. Deontology - looking for an objective basis to ground all moral action.

    Contractualism - an action is morally right if it is in agreement with the rules that rational moral agents would accept onto a social relationship or contract. Divine command ethics - an action is morally right if, and only if, it is in agreement with the rules and duties established by God. Monistic deontology - an action is morally right if it agrees with a single deontological principle which guides all other principles. Duty - an action is morally right if it coheres with a set of agreed duties and obligations.

    • Word count: 1245
  21. Moral Relativism

    All they wanted was to fit in with their own community; the 'truth' was an inconsistent and unpredictable idea. Protagoras said that nothing is absolutely right or wrong and that each person is their own final point of authority when making decisions. Moral Relativism is also subjective, meaning that a person's values are relative to them and so cannot be judged objectively. This is important because we learn that we need to be tolerant of other people's beliefs and behaviour as well as not to impose our beliefs or morality on other people.

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  22. Austin's theory of law is based on coercio

    Thus the power to inflict a sanction (punishment) in the case of non compliance is what makes an expression a command. This constitutes Austin's positive law (posited by humans). The form of the sanction and whose commands will constitute law will be considered below. Austin believes that for a command to be a law, it is only necessary for it to have generality as to acts; and thus not all commands can be law. This coercive nature of law indicates that power is made central to law. It also illustrates Austin's emphasis on law being an 'instrument of government' (Cotterrell); thus it is a centralised power for the benefit of the common good as determined by utility.

    • Word count: 1866
  23. Describe the main strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism

    * It is also attractive to secular thinkers, because it makes no grand claims to the supernatural or metaphysical. It appeals to tangible results - the consequences of an action will be perceived. Weaknesses * What do we mean by happiness? What makes us happy? It is hard to define happiness as it varies with person to person. * Should happiness always be pursued? What if we can only be happy if we achieve it in a 'bad' way? Like if a murderer is only happy if he kills someone.

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  24. Ethical Theories are of no help when discussing matters of sex and relationships

    Help is a multifaceted concept which within the context of this essay will be restricted to one of the definitions proposed by the Hamlyn World Dictionary as 'to give aid; be of service'. For the purpose of this essay we shall take an ethical system to be one which can 'clarify the implications of certain very general beliefs about morality, and show how these beliefs can consistently be put into practice' (Warburton). The Thomist approach to sexual ethics was informed by a combination of 'negative' views on sexuality.

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  25. Natural Law

    Natural Law was our inborn sense of right and wrong, discovered through the conscience. However it also depends on the superior laws, eternal and divine. He said that behaviour should not be worked out exclusively on what is natural, but with reference to Holy Scripture and church teaching, with the imperative need to educate our consciences. Aquinas also involved Aristotle's ideas of potentiality and actuality of all existing beings. Potentiality is the possibility to alter within an existing thing, and actuality is the existence. For example a foetus has the potentiality to become a human.

    • Word count: 1391

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