“What would Kant say about Abortion? Who knows!” Tackling the Application Essays (Old Spec)

How is your juggling technique? Well that is exactly what you need to do in these essays.juggling-too-much

You not only have to consider the topic but how it applies to an ethical issue, whilst at the same time taking into consideration the specific wording of the question. Hence why  application topics are left until the end!

You  need a lot of skills and understanding to be able to write a coherent essay that actually answers the question. Unfortunately you are pretty much guaranteed that at least two out of your four questions in Summer will be application in some disguise (if not all four questions when considering the part b) discussion questions). See Consulting the Crystal Ball: Predicting your AS Ethics Questions to help predict the wording of potential application questions.

So here are my tips that may help to ease the struggle of juggling two topics.

Step One: Five Paragraph Rule (see The Five Paragraph Rule for more guidance)

Step Two: Identify the ‘issues’ you wish to discuss (see “What does that mean?” Understanding AS Ethics Questions which outlines specific issues)

Step Three: Work out ways to link topic with application issue.

a)     ‘Explain how a follower of Natural Law might approach the issues surrounding abortion’


Note: You need to select 2-3 ‘issues’ that you are going to link to: I prefer SOL, personhood and Right to a child (IVF)

One opening point about NL (e.g Natural Law is deontological which means it focuses on intentions and actions not outcomes)

One opening point about what abortion is (e.g Abortion is the termination of a foetus)

One sentence linking NL to abortion (There are many ways NL approaches issues, including SOL, personhood and Right to a child, which will be explored in this essay)

Paragraph One: Based on reason, avoids Divine Command Theory, open to atheists


First point: explain NL

Second point: link point one to abortion issue

Third point: find an alternative way of applying theory to issue.

E.G. Natural Law, created by Dominican Monk St Thomas Aquinas, focuses upon applying the gift of reason to work out what is right and wrong. When applying to issues surrounding abortion, such as Right to a Child, it may indicate that if reason has enabled doctors to create new life through IVF then maybe this is using the gift of reason and our autonomy correctly. However because IVF involves masturbation and other means to create life natural law may argue this is a misuse of reason and not leading to a real good.
Paragraph Two: Hierarchy moral code Follow same structure but change issue.
Paragraph Three: Primary Precepts
Paragraph Four: Secondary application
Paragraph Five: Doctrine of Double Effect
Conclusion: Way up main points

The structure of every introduction is the same: point, point, link. The only thing that changes is the topic or the application issue mentioned.

Each paragraph keeps the same structure: point, apply, alternative view.

Note: I use words: ‘may indicate’ and ‘may argue’ as you can only ever make assumptions about the application. Never say: Natural Law would be against because (as you just don’t know)


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