Applied ethics questions
You need to be ready to answer:
5 or 12 mark questions
Explanation of theory Y on applied ethics topic X.
You need to know how each of Utilitarianism, Deontology, Virtue ethics and Meta-ethical theories apply to each of the applied ethics topics: stealing, deception & the telling of lies, eating animals & simulated killing.
25 mark essay questions
For 25 mark questions on applied ethics you additionally need to be able to evaluate the judgement made on the applied ethics topics by normative/meta-ethical theories.
The question could be whether applied ethics topic X is right/wrong.
Your answer/conclusion could be:
- It is right/wrong to X
- It is not right/wrong to X
- It is sometimes right/wrong to X
Different answers/conclusions such as these will be those given by the normative/meta-ethics theories.
For example, if the question is whether stealing is wrong, Kantian deontologists would answer affirmatively that stealing is wrong.
Utilitarians would answer that it is sometimes wrong to steal.
Anti-realist meta-ethical theories
Error theory would say that all ethical statements are false. So, if the question is whether stealing is wrong, an error theorist would say no, because the statement ‘stealing is wrong’ is false. This doesn’t mean stealing is right though, that would equally be false.
Non-cognitive theories like emotivism would regard all ethical questions as meaningless expressions of emotion.
Unless the question specifies a particular normative/meta-ethical theory, it is up to you which and how many to include.
Evaluation in 25-mark questions
Once you have explained what answer to the question a normative/meta-ethical theory would give and why, the next step is to evaluate that answer.
There is no need to learn special criticisms or objections. The issues you already need to know for normative & meta-ethics work well enough.
You will have explained what answer a theory gives to the question. If you evaluate the theory, you therefore evaluate its answer to the question.
Bringing in issues can sometimes be directly related (most easily through illustration) and sometimes not.
If the question is whether stealing is wrong, Utilitarianism would say that it is sometimes wrong.
Example of an issue being used to directly relate to the applied ethics topic:
Issues with calculation can be brought in. It is difficult to predict the future, including the future consequences that could arise from stealing.
Example of an issue being used to indirectly relate to the applied ethics topic:
Nozick’s experience machine issue can be used. It attempts to undermine the foundational premise of hedonistic Utilitarianism, that happiness/pleasure is our sole ultimate desire. If that premise is false, then Utilitarianism is false. In that case, the judgement Utilitarianism made about stealing is false.
This issue can’t be made or illustrated to have anything to do with the applied ethics topic, but it nonetheless helps us to evaluate the answer to the applied ethics question that Utilitarianism provided.
Utilitarianism on stealing
Evaluation of Utilitarianism on stealing
Kantian ethics on stealing
Evaluation of Kantian ethics on stealing
Virtue ethics on stealing
Evaluation of Virtue ethics on stealing
Meta-ethics on stealing
Evaluation of Meta-ethics on stealing
(within computer games, plays, films etc)
Utilitarianism on simulated killing
Evaluation of Utilitarianism simulated killing
Kantian ethics on simulated killing
Evaluation of Kantian ethics on simulated killing
Virtue ethics on simulated killing
Evaluation of Virtue ethics on simulated killing
Meta-ethics on simulated killing
Evaluation of Meta-ethics on simulated killing
Utilitarianism on eating animals
Evaluation of Utilitarianism on eating animals
Kantian ethics on eating animals
Evaluation of Kantian ethics on eating animals
Virtue ethics on eating animals
Evaluation of Virtue ethics on eating animals
Meta-ethics on eating animals
Evaluation of Meta-ethics on eating animals
Deception & telling lies
Utilitarianism on deception & telling lies
Evaluation of Utilitarianism on deception & telling lies
Kantian ethics on deception & telling lies
Evaluation of Kantian ethics on deception & telling lies
Virtue ethics on deception & telling lies
Evaluation of Virtue ethics on deception & telling lies
Meta-ethics on deception & telling lies
Evaluation of Meta-ethics on deception & telling lies