writing an essay

Question 1

In one paragraph describe the difference between ethics and morals?

Question 2

Name two opposing ethical theories from those defined in this lesson, briefly discuss how these theories differ, write no more than one paragraph.

Question 3

Use books/internet to examine the life and metaethical theories of an important philosopher. You could research an ancient Greek Philosopher such as Plato or twentieth century philosopher such as H Sigwick or GE Moore. Report back on your findings in approximately 500 words.

Question 4

Which of the following statements are metaethical questions and why? Give you reasons in 1-2 paragraphs.

  • I think Euthanasia is wrong
  • Euthanasia is murder
  • What does it mean to say that euthanasia is wrong?
  • Euthanasia is wrong
  • Why is Euthanasia wrong?
  • The morality of Euthanasia is a matter of opinion
  • Does the morality of euthanasia differ in different cultures?

Question 6

Research and discuss a metaethical theory behind the statement ‘ethical statements are no more than expressions of emotion’. Write 1 page.

Question 5

Apply a relevant metaethical theory to the following statements:

  • X is good means an individual approves of X
  • X is good means an ideal observer would approve of X
  • X is good because God teaches us that X is good
  • ‘X is good’ means x agrees with my beliefs

Question 6

Using the transplant organ dilemma – A transplant surgeon has five patients who all need a different organ. All of them will die without that organ. There are no organs available. That day, a young traveller visits the doctor for a routine check-up. The traveller is healthy and the doctor finds he is compatible to all five patients, so saving five lives. No one would suspect the doctor is the healthy traveller disappears. What should the doctor do? Discuss with the doctor what he should do from the view point of at least three ethical models, such as utilitarianism, absolutism etc. Write at least 1000 words.

Question 7

Two hundred children are being held prisoner of war. If you go and save them, the enemy will know that you know where their base is and will start an all-out war, potentially killing hundreds or thousands of people. If you do not rescue the children, they may be harmed or killed. Again, discuss what you should do from an ethical point of view. Again consider at least three ethical models. Write at least 1000 words.

Question 8

Look at a newspaper or news report today. What do you consider good virtues discussed in the news report and what do you consider immoral behaviour? Make notes.

Write a brief essay on the moral and immoral behaviour discussed in the news report you viewed today. Aim to write around 200 words.

Question 9

Why do you consider the behaviours you mentioned in question 1 moral and immoral? Explain how you came to determine which behaviours were moral and which were not. Write ½ – 1 page.

Question 10

Carry out research on virtues. You may look at virtues generally or virtues suggested by a particular religion, society or culture.

Write an essay of around 500 words on the moral virtues you researched.

Question 11

What do you consider your strongest and weakest virtues; and why? Write ½ – 1 page.

Question 12

Select an issue which one or many people who you know, have varying opinions on. Put aside any prejudices that you personally might have.

Work through the following steps, to determine an ethical position on this issue.

Make notes at each of the eight stages:

  1. State the Issue Clearly and Concisely

Write a clear and concise statement of no more than 2 or three sentences that define the ethical conundrum which you are going to consider.

  • List all choices.

As soon as decisions start to take on an ethical dimension it’s important to make a list of all possible actions. The act of simply writing things down can often clarify issues.

  • Predict the outcome of each choice.

List the benefits and consequences of each action on the stakeholders – all interested parties. Consequences may include effects on financial position, reputation, relationships, stock availability, scheduling etc. They may be long or short term.

  • Examine the legal implications.

Consider how each action would be viewed under the law. Ignorance is not an excuse. If you don’t know, find out from a reliable source (e.g. Consumer Advocates or Fair Trade departments, Experts in the issue, People with strong and differing opinions).

  • Examine the industrial or professional code of ethics.

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