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GCSE: Ethics

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  1. Utilitarianism is a contrast to classic approaches to ethics. One of the main features or indeed the basis of Utilitarianism is the 'Greatest happiness for the greatest number' theory which posses a secular oUtlook to ethics.

    Classic approaches to ethics stress good intentions as essential to morality. For example, 'tell the trUth because it is morally good to tell the truth, even if it hurts'. Classic approaches to ethics often stress the intrinsic value of morality. Unlike classic approaches Utilitarianism does not distribute happiness or goodness in an equalariean manner. Utilitarianism is not about having ideals; it is an aprori approach to morality, a basis that experience counts for everything. One might call it a moral theory of usefulness in terms of the greater good, not in terms of ones selfish desires.

    • Word count: 2380
  2. Explain how a moral life could be said to be at the heart of Lay Buddhism.

    Hence abiding by the moral life causes one to become a better person, which is the essence of Buddhism. Another aspect of the moral life however, is meditation. Meditation plays a crucial role in the development of a right state of mind. Through meditation, one can essentially develop a higher level of consciousness, and hence, see aspects of life as they really are. One of the most important states of mind, which is extremely significant in ethical decisions, is Metta.

    • Word count: 1987
  3. The Impact of Ethics on Decision-making.

    Such ethics rest on universal values that cut across time, culture, politics, religion and ethnicity. With all that at stake, it's clear that the impact of ethics on decision-making carries deep rooted and heavy effects. What is Ethics? Let's start by identifying what ethics is. Ethics refers to well based standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Ethics also refers to the study and development of one's ethical standards. It is necessary to constantly examine one's standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded.

    • Word count: 662
  4. Virtue ethics is of little practical use to someone faced with a moralproblem. Discuss.

    Be brave - in which case she should go into the burning house and risk her life to save the fourth child. Be pragmatic - in which case she should stay with the other 3 children; this would, in the long term mean that she would be saving 3 lives instead of 1. Virtues sometimes conflict therefore they would be of little practical use to this woman. In this particular case there would also be no time to start considering which would be the more moral thing to do.

    • Word count: 683
  5. Virtue ethics comes from the time of Aristotle and Plato but has only become popular again fairly recently. Virtue comes from the word 'arete' meaning excellence or virtue.

    Kant and Bentham both wrote about what it is to be virtuous and tried to define virtues. These people concentrated on explaining the right way to behave, rather than focusing on the best way to be. Modern revivals of virtue ethics have returned to concentration on the agent rather than the actions because ethicists like Kant's and Bentham's theory seems to have serious weaknesses. Aristotle was the main forefather of Virtue ethics. He is a very influential philosopher and was a great scholar. Aristotle's main work about morality is 'Nicomachean Ethics' which says how everyone wants a happy and fulfilled life, 'eudaimonia'.

    • Word count: 1276
  6. Are Moral Values Objective Or Subjective?

    If we were all to base our moral values on Gods' commands then these values would be objective as God is universal and therefore so are the values. This leads many people to believe that there cannot be any objective morality without the existence of God. If one has their personal interests at heart when choosing to act morally, then these values are subjective as their choice comes from inside them and is based on their personal feelings and thoughts.

    • Word count: 1027
  7. What in your opinion is the difference between doing the best thing and doing the right thing?

    Utilitarianism is therefore said to be consequentialist (results based), i.e. ends justify the means. For example there are two people, Mark and John. Mark decides to give some money to charity so that others praise him, and John gives some money out of a sense of duty. According to utilitarianism both actions result in maximum happiness for the greatest number and therefore both are equally moral, however most people would agree that giving the money out of a sense of duty, and not for personal gain is the more morally right thing to do.

    • Word count: 1111
  8. Is what promotes the greatest good for the greatest number necessarily morally right?

    The first problem with Bentham's utilitarianism is the idea that the manner in which the ends are achieved is not important. The reason why this is a problem is because say for example a young child is drugged so that he looses conscience but the drug doesn't do any harm to his body. And while he is unconscious a group of paedophiles remove his clothes and photo him nude without abusing him and once they are done they put him back where they left him, so that he never finds out what happened.

    • Word count: 1028
  9. Explain ethical egoism. Do you believe that it is true? Why or why not?

    We cannot expect people to do things that they cannot do. In the scenario of a drowning child, if one cannot swim, then one is not physically capable of saving the drowning child, and there is no sense in our saying that one ought to save the victim. Psychological egoism is not an affirmation that all people behave selfishly in concenquences. It would not disagree that people assist others, contribute to charity or even provide an organ to somebody who will die if they didn't receive a transplant.

    • Word count: 2165
  10. Bad consequences from a good will?

    Likewise, someone who is courageous or intelligent, but who has an evil will, is all the more dangerous because of such a motive. A good will, on the other hand, remains good even when possessed by an unhappy person, or by a person lacking in talent and intelligences. This is distinguished from a merely pleasurable consequence, which exerts its influence on the "good will" by means of sensations and other subjective factors and perhaps holds factual for this or that individual, but not as a principle rationally applicable for everyone.

    • Word count: 832
  11. Are all human actions motivated by self-interest?

    Being free from worry and distress. The more violent a pleasure is, according to Epicurus, the more likely and great will be the unpleasant after-effects. So, from this we can make the distinction; between what Epicurus call an intrinsic good, and an instrumental good. An intrinsic good is something that is good in itself. It is worth having for its own sake. Something, which is instrumentally good is something you do in the hopes that it will eventually lead to something good. Epicurus believed that pleasure was the sole intrinsic good, and everything else was a possible instrumental good.

    • Word count: 1890
  12. 'The availability of contraception makes society 'less moral' than it used to be.' Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer.

    But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry." This is basically saying that it is moral to remain celibate, although it is also moral to marry and within this marriage have sex, although St Paul chooses to show this as less moral then remaining celibate. Therefore it must be even less moral to have sex outside marriage. So a Christian opinion to contraception might be a negative one, as they may believe it encourages sex outside of marriage as it limits the risk of making the female pregnant, so turning it into a 'casual activity.'

    • Word count: 629
  13. How can you or your society decide ethically which knowledge should or should not be pursued?

    In World War Two, 1945, the Americans were at war with the country Japan. The Americans did not want a long and expensive war therefore they introduced the idea of the Atomic Bomb. The Americans did some tests and after confirming that they worked they used these types of weapons on the city, Hiroshima. This then obligated the Japanese to give in to the Americans fulfilling the American's goals, a short and not costly war. The damage done with the immense pressure from the Atomic bombs brought up many ethical questions, for example, whether their use and development were considered morally correct or morally wrong.

    • Word count: 1332
  14. To what extent, if at all, should conscience be ignored when making moral decisions?

    So therefore even when you believe that your conscience is corrupt or underdeveloped can you afford to ignore it? The phrase you must follow your conscience means that we must do what we honestly believe to be right. It does not mean that others have to agree with your decision. One of the most important ways of learning is through our mistakes. We may have one immediate reaction to a situation but when we then reason it out we discover other moral dimensions that are not immediately visible.

    • Word count: 1510
  15. The Revival of Virtue Ethics

    Even if an ethical system is not very religious, the only reason for keeping a moral law is if there is a moral motivator, a judge or law enforcer, to reward or punish people according to their behaviour - Phillipa Foot's 'Virtues and Vices' of 1978 also had a profound influence on the renewal of interest in virtue ethics. Anscombe's article had concentrated mostly on outlining the failings of other ethical theories, and the need for a new direction, without much detail.

    • Word count: 484
  16. What are the main features of utilitarianism as anethical theory?

    or wrongness or an action is determined by its usefulness, or utility, where usefulness refers to the greatest pleasure or good caused by an action. "An action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number" Bentham. Hence, his theory was not just applying to individuals but to the whole of society and was democratic. Bentham argued that when faced with a moral dilemma, a person should act on what would be the most utile to the greatest number of people.

    • Word count: 1277
  17. In Vitro Fertilization and it's Moral and Ethical issues.

    Quote "Yet, fewer than 5% of infertile couples in treatment actually use IVF" unquote. IVF is usually the treatment of choice for a woman with blocked, severely damaged, or absent fallopian tubes. IVF is also used to circumvent infertility caused by endometriosis or a male factor. Many programs also use IVF to treat couples with unexplained infertility of long duration who have failed with other infertility treatments" What is IVF? Most people create moral disagreements without having the basic knowledge about IVF. Simply stated, IVF involves removing eggs from a woman, fertilizing them in the laboratory and then transferring the fertilized eggs, or zygotes, into the uterus a few days later.

    • Word count: 874
  18. Truth or Truths

    It's up to the individual or the culture to decide." These positions, and others like them, are forms of relativism. "Relativism is the view that judgments about truth and falsity, good and bad, are relative to the individual person or culture." This definition is correct provided that the subjects are JUDGEMENTS and/or ETHICS, because judgement is the opinion of someone about something. We cannot expect everyone to like skating, can we? For me skating might be extremely enjoyable, but others may find it unnecessary. We cannot deny the fact that skating cannot be done without a pair of skates, but can find it thrilling or boring.

    • Word count: 630
  19. How can you or your society decide ethically which knowledge should or should not be pursued?

    It became evident that Tom believed Sal (my present girlfriend) was being unfaithful to me, in fact that she was sleeping with another friend of mine Warwick. This leaves me with an ethical dilemma: pursuing the issue with Sal would probably result in the end of our relationship if I am wrong, and likewise with Warwick, no doubt hurting both party's with my mistrust. However should I choose not to pursue this knowledge then I would probably hurt Tom by not trusting him, and also risk the fact that he could be right, resulting in suffering for all parties concerned.

    • Word count: 1728
  20. How can we know if at all that our behaviour is ethical

    The environment each individual grows up in is different. Different cultures, different religions, different societies. At a personal level, the ethical judgements made by individuals will vary, influenced by their cultural background, religious and beliefs and, quite significantly, their emotions. Emotions are a strong instinctive or mental feeling one gets in various situations. For example one feels a feeling of sadness when leaving one's loved ones;. These emotions intervene with knowledge. For exampleor if a person loves dogs, this person would overlook the fact that dogs can also be vicious and have the capacity to injure or kill humans humanstoo.

    • Word count: 1479
  21. Assess The Strengths / Weaknesses Of Virtue Ethics

    Once we know what it means to be the best human being possible, then the virtues are whatever character traits enable us to live at the heights of excellence. Aristotle suggests this theory too. However, identifying the "flourishing life" is itself a major task. Also, if we look very closely at the notion of a "flourishing life," we will find that instead of helping us determine what the virtues are, it actually begs the question, since the flourishing life already contains value judgements.

    • Word count: 1004
  22. Explain The Alternative View To Virtue Ethics

    It isn't only about action but also about emotions, character, and moral habits. The virtues are Excellencies of character. Traditionally, they have been divided into two types: moral and nonmoral virtues. Moral ones being; honesty, benevolence, non-malevolence, fairness, kindness, conscientiousness and others like that... Nonmoral virtues being; courage, optimism, rationality, self-control, patience, endurance and so on... The exact classification of various virtues is debatable. The nonmoral virtues generally are considered as contributing to the moral life but also as more easily expropriated for immoral purposes. Even though most of the virtue systems don't deny that there are principles of action that serve as action guidelines. These entities are not the essence of morality.

    • Word count: 919
  23. Outline The Criticisms Of Action Based Ethical Systems

    The aretaist rejects this judgement, they see morality as an intrinsically worthwhile activity. Another criticism is that action based ethics are founded on a theological- legal model that isn't really appropriate. Moral language in traditional schemes usually has a structure that resembles that of law. Traditional, natural law ethics used this model with integrity, for it saw moral principles as terminology to law and God as alike to the sovereign. Now, however, ethics has become autonomous activity, so that it is now an inarticulate metaphor. The virtue ethicists reject this model. Ethics should help us develop admirable characters that will generate the kind of insights needed for the difficulties of life.

    • Word count: 601
  24. Problems with Utilitarian and Kantian Ethics.

    One popular criticism of utilitarianism is that it deals too much with the consequences of one's actions, and the same for Kant except that it focuses too much upon intentions. For the purposes of this essay I will explain how both theories fail as moral guideline on how to live life, and touch upon some components of morality, which I feel are imperative in order to live the good life. Utilitarianism is a theory that maintains that pleasure/happiness is the only intrinsic good, and that whatever act, choice etc.

    • Word count: 2823
  25. Discuss whether moral judgments are subjective or objective

    Morality changes from era to era, person to person - an act can not be condemned as wrong as in some societies it may be considered correct. However objectivists believe in a universal right and wrong, all moral judgments have a truth-value - to state murder is wrong, would in accordance with objectivism be considered true. These moral facts stay the same throughout time - they never change, it will always be wrong to take another humans life, always wrong to steal from others.

    • Word count: 3486

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