Question 2 Ethics



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Question 2 - Ethics

    1. Clarify the argument and/or interpretation in the passage.

(30)

    1. Do you agree with the ideas(s) expressed? Justify your point of view and discuss its implications for understanding religion and human experience.

(20)

A01 = 30 and A02 = 20



Three further concerns have marked recent developments in moral philosophy. (1) Much work is being done on actual social and political problems. As the essays in Part V of this volume indicate, questions concerning abortion, environmental ethics, just war, medical treatment, business practices, the rights of animals, and the position of women and children occupy a considerable part of the literature and teaching considered to be moral philosophy or ethics. (2) There has been a return to the Aristotelian vision of morality as centrally a matter of virtue, rather than abstract principles. Alasdair MacIntyre and Bernard Williams, among others, attempt to develop a communitarian view of moral personality and of the functioning of morality. (3) Finally, there has been a rapid growth of interest in the problems posed by the need to co-ordinate the behaviour of many individuals if effective action is to be taken. If too many people use a lake for a rural retreat, no-one will get the solitude each desires; but one person’s decision to stay away may do no good; how are we to decide what is to be done? Many issues, including preservation of resources and the environment, population control, and the prevention of nuclear war seem to have similar structure, and moral philosophers along with economists, mathematicians, and others are being drawn to them.
AO1 Plan


  1. In this passage, Schneewind identifies the three main characteristics of modern moral philosophy. Firstly, ……This can be linked to …….who argued…… Secondly, Schneewind argued there had been a return to Aristotliam ethics by which he meant……This could be linked to……who claimed….Thirldy, Schneewind says….. This could be linked to…..and this point raises questions for us, such as….

  2. Schneewind takes us on a journey through the history of moral philosophy. He identifies three stages of development. Firstly, beginning in the 16th century with the idea that……This could be linked to….. who argued….. The second stage, which includes the work of Kant, can be identified as…… Kant’s ideas were important here because…..Stage 3 of the history of modern philosophy is the focus on…..This can be linked to the observations of Jamieson who said……

  3. As we headed towards autonomy and the ability of individuals being able to reason for themselves, philosophers like Hobbes made interesting contributions, such as….This can link to my work on……However, Locke opposed Hobbes by saying…..This can link to……Furthermore, Schneewind identifies the changes between classical natural law, which states……, and modern natural law which asserts…

  4. Schneewind shows us that there was much debate in the 18th century about whether our moral knowledge came from feelings or reason. This can link with LaFollette’s work because…..Also this can link to Kant’s ideas…..Furthermore, Schneewind cites Bayle who asked….. This can link to our key questions such as…

  5. After Kant, moral philosophy became the domain of academic study in university. This can link to Jamieson because…. Schneewind identifies three aspects of the period after Kant. Firstly, the rise of moral autonomy. This can link to Mill and Bentham…..Secondly, the primacy of the community over the individual, for example Hegel argued…. The third aspect is the irse of relativism and contributions of Nietzsche, who argued….This can link to Ayer and his work on …….

  6. Finally, Schneewind shows us how modern moral philosophy is moving in a new direction. Maybe surprisingly, there seems to be a revival of…….by Rawls who said….. Additionally, Rawls argues we need a social contract, which is….because….Overall, Schneewind shows us that modern moral philosophy is interested in communities of autonomous individuals.


AO2 Plan


  1. So what implications, if any, does Schneewind’s passage have on religion, human experience and me? I think the renewed emphasis on normative ethics, rather than meta-ethics is positive/negative because….. [what are the advantages and disadvantages to the emphasis?] Furthermore, I agree/disagree with the revival of virtue ethics because……Although I can see the alternative view…. I think the renewed focus on individuals working together for the common good has strengths like….but also weaknesses like. This could link to the recent general election of the main differences between right and left politics, for example….

  2. The implications for religion in Schneewind’s arguments is that society is placing less value on religion. Secular morality dominates society, and this is illustrated by….. The implications for religion in this regard means that religious authority, experienced in the 17th century, does not hold power any longer. Religion has to develop with modernisation in order for it to keep up with modern moral philosophy. An example where this has happened…. However, perhaps a solution is seen with Robinson and Fletcher’s situation ethics ……. But I think problems also derive from this ……..

  3. However, although Schneewind’s argument is highly reasonable, it could be argued that although we are a secular society, focusing on social and political problems, much of the political law is actually influenced by religion. For instance………..Therefore religion will I think, always play a part in morality as it has historical influence. Philosophers such as …… argued follow God’s authority was essential, but alongside government and with using reason.

  4. Schneewind in the passage highlights a return to virtue ethics of Aristotle. The implications of humans using virtue ethics highlight that everyone is able to develop and achieve moral characteristics such as that of empathy. I believe virtue ethics are positive because…However, a weakness may be… This draws links with Lafollette’s work in which he argues intimate relationships allow a person to develop empathy and thus, apply this to impartial morality.

  5. In conclusion, Schneewind’s passage does have implications for us because I agree that….However, it still leaves us with questions such as….


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