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January 29, 2020, 02:15:14 pm

Author Topic: How to tackle ethics  (Read 1103 times)

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How to tackle ethics
« on: November 02, 2019, 06:26:15 pm »

I have an extended response exam coming up and the topic is ethics. I find ethics to be a really complex topic and there is a lot to remember. So far, we have looked at things like teleological and deontological ethics, the trolley problem, virtue ethics, ethics of care, natural law theory, the multidimensional and pastoral spiral approaches to ethical decision-making, moral dilemmas of modern warfare (e.g. moral injury), Christian and Buddhist ethics, just war theory and the doctrine of double effect....

How do I remember this all? How do I tackle an extended response exam?

Thanks! :)
QCE 2020: Physics || Psychology || Biology || Mathematical Methods || General English || Study of Religion


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Re: How to tackle ethics
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2019, 11:37:09 pm »
Heya everyone! :D

I completed my exam last week and I ended up getting 24/25. So, I thought I would just share with everyone how I studied/prepared - and hopefully answer the questions that I posted above (that I'm sure someone, somewhere has been asking/will ask)

1. Read, read, read, read, and read. Did I say read?

Scholarly articles/websites/books/textbooks will be your best friend!!! Read as much as you can about each topic you have learnt - try to be as familiar with the content as possible. You want to know the content like the back of your hand.

2. Mindmaps are a godsend!!!

Draw your mind maps people! Make connections! By doing this, you are making it so much easier for yourself when it comes to writing the actual essay. Instead of panicking and having a little freak out like: "Ohmahgawd how am I meant to write about all of this?!?!?!". Just chill. And think: "How do these topics connect? What topics should I elaborate more on, and what topics can I just briefly reference in connection to the more important topic?"

My mind map looked something like (I focused on war as the social-ethical issue and my class primarily looked at Christianity and Buddhism): Christian ethics --> natural moral law --> just war theory --> teleological...... Buddhist ethics --> pacifistic --> virtue ethics --> does not ascribe to just war theory....

As you can see, when you make connections like this, all the topics look a lot more manageable. It also helps to understand the foundations of each topic (this is where reading helps). Instead of going: "Omg which topic links to what??!!". Think to yourself: "What are the foundations for each topic/concept/theory?". E.g. Ahh ok, just war theory (JWT) was developed by St Thomas Aquinas, in alignment with Catholic teachings - thus Catholic Christians ascribe to this theory. Furthermore, JWT attempts to provide a framework that enables one to assess the permissibility and morality of war and aims to produce an outcome that will benefit the greater good (thus it is teleological - the ends justify the means).

3. Show divergence (no, not the movie!)

As you can see in the sample essay (you can find that here), the writer discusses not only the Christian and Buddhist perspectives, but also broke it down into the denominations of Christianity and the branches of Buddhism. It is important that you can show the differences within each faith tradition - do not simply make generalisations. For example, as I stated above, Catholic Christians ascribe to JWT. Note how I said Catholic Christians, not ALL Christians. Orthodox Christians, on the other hand, do not ascribe to JWT. Instead, this denomination of Christianity maintains the "gravity" of taking a life, observed in early Christianity. It argues that JWT ignores the essential pacifist stance taken by Jesus.

I found that showing divergence in teachings and beliefs was more difficult for Buddhism than it was for Christianity. While the different denominations showed variation in beliefs, Buddhist branches generally shared the same beliefs. This is when reading becomes super important. I was able to find that differences in Asian languages have resulted in there not existing one singular term for the word "violence" in any Buddhist texts (both branches of Buddhism that I looked at - Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism - originate from different parts of Asia - thus there were differences in languages). So, I was able to talk about how language may have affected the interpretation of scripture. Furthermore, there are unfortunately the appearance of scriptures of a utilitarian nature (see linking concepts) within the Mahavamsa of Mahanama (a text within the Pali Chronicles - a source of religious guidance for Theravada Buddhists), which may result in the interpretation of violence as being acceptable in certain circumstances within the Theravada tradition... yada yada yada.. Long story short, show divergence.

You can use a Venn diagram to help with this. Make one comparing two denominations of Christianity, another comparing two branches of Buddhism and one comparing Buddhism and Christianity as a whole.

4. Write a practice essay

Ok ok ok... controversial, I know. But this is what I did, and it is what I highly recommend. Write a really broad essay - and I mean really broad. Try to link as many concepts as you can together - kind of like the mind map. I found that writing a proper essay and linking concepts/ideas together properly, helped me to understand those concepts/ideas in context. I learnt how to write about it in regard to a particular issue. It helps to memorise the essay too - but I stress the importance of it being broad. By writing a broad essay you won't have to freak out about having a very specific essay that doesn't answer the question that you are asked to answer during the exam. Instead, it provides you with something you can mould to answer the question provided.

5. How can you use concepts/topics to your advantage?

So, my class learnt about Isaacs and Massey's Multidimensional Approach to ethical decision making and the Pastoral Spiral approach to ethical decision making (I don't remember who developed the latter one... can you tell which one I wrote about in my exam? ;D) and we were expected to write about one of them during our exam. Did I want to have to remember a million things about these different approaches to ethical decision making? Hell nawh I didn't. So, did I use it to my advantage? Hell yeah I did.

Instead of writing solely about the Multidimensional Approach to ethical decision making, I used it to structure my essay. My first body paragraph combined the Hermeneutical and Appreciative domains, my next two paragraphs elaborated more, another paragraph implemented the Appraisive domain and my last body paragraph employed the Transformative domain. Using it as a structure, rather than having to remember every little bit about it helps.

Hope this helps!!! :)
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 11:55:58 pm by K.Smithy »
QCE 2020: Physics || Psychology || Biology || Mathematical Methods || General English || Study of Religion


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Re: How to tackle ethics
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2019, 08:46:19 am »
Awesome post. 🙌🙌🙌