“Utilitarianism is more useful than Kantian Ethics when dealing with ethical dilemmas” Discuss: Student’s Work

Writing application essays can be very difficult. You not only are juggling your topic with evaluation but applying it to an ethical issue. In this case, the question is even harder  because you also have two compare two topics together. Now you could just talk about ethical dilemmas in general and whether Utilitarianism or Kant is more useful. However I think you run the risk of producing a vague and bland answer. I would stick with the dilemmas surrounding Business Ethics (this is what your examiners are really looking for.) So before you start writing decide which 2-3 dilemmas or issues you are going to talk about (e.g. sweatshops, treatment of employees, whistleblowers, globalization etc.)

This is an example of what I would class as a good introduction.  This is because it displays to an examiner all the necessary elements in a simple and clear way, yet remaining informative (not descriptive) and is effective in the way it handles the question. From reading this introduction it is obvious what the question is. Always a sign of a good start!

intro

When answering a question that specifies two theories (Util and Kant in this case) then you need to decide your four paragraph rule for each – this is your structure. It is only four paragraphs (not the usual five: The Five Paragraph Rule) because you are required to compare two theories rather than one (e.g. unlike the Natural Law and Euthanasia question I blogged about previously)- therefore you need time to explain and evaluate  both.

Four paragraph rule=

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“Natural law provides a helpful approach when dealing with issues surrounding euthanasia”: Student’s Work

Writing application essays can be very difficult. You not only are juggling your topic with evaluation but applying it to an ethical issue. For help on structuring application essays see: Tackling the Application Essays.

Here are some examples of introductions and main paragraphs to show the structure:

This is an example of what I would class as a good introduction.  This is because it displays to an examiner all the necessary elements in a simple and clear way, yet remaining informative (not descriptive) and is effective in the way it handles the question. From reading this introduction it is obvious what the question is. Always a sign of a good start!

intro-1

This is another introduction example. This demonstrates a different style of writing, yet the core structure (as above) is present. See how this student focuses on developing their evaluative tone with rhetorical questions (red) and demonstrates wider understanding through added details (green)

intro4When writing your paragraphs within an application essay, keep the structure simple: theme, link, evaluate – so in this question it might be: reason, sanctity of life and helpfulness.

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“What would Aquinas say about Euthanasia?”Tackling the Application Essays

How is your juggling technique? Well that is exactly what you need to do in application essays. You not only have to consider the topic but evaluate how well it applies to an ethical issue, juggling-too-muchwhilst at the same time taking into consideration the specific wording of the question. Hence why application topics are so challenging!

The application topics work as follows:

  • Natural Law and Situation Ethics as applied to euthanasia
  • Kant and Utilitarianism as applied to business ethics

My understanding is that there are three possible types of questions you might be asked in ethics:

  1. Specific topic and issue (e.g. Natural law provides a helpful approach when dealing with issues surrounding euthanasia)
  2. Two topic comparison with issue (e.g. Utilitarianism is more helpful than Kantian ethics when dealing with ethical dilemmas)
  3. Just issue (e.g. Evaluate the view that the religious concept of sanctity of life is outdated)

Note:

  • A question might say ‘ethical dilemmas’ or ‘ethical issues’ which means you still need to talk about the related application topic, even if it is not specified (like Q2.)
  • If the question is just on the issue, you still need to draw in arguments from one or both topics, not just a general discussion of the issue (like Q3.)

So here are my tips to help you handle an application question. These four steps will work with any type of application question.

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“Religious experiences are an illusion of the mind”: Student’s Work

This is an example of what I would class as a good introduction. See the use of critical terms (red), links to the question (x3 in green) and the engagement with the two key names (Freud and James) in relation to the quote. The quote shows higher level independent reading but also shows understanding through not only linking it to James but also the question.

intro.PNG

This is the first paragraph from the same essay. See the clear structure: James (yellow), E.G (green), E.G evaluation (purple), E.G evaluation linking back to James and introductory links to Freud (blue). Once again this is what I deem a good paragraph. The student maintains links to the example throughout (St. Teresa), I learn as a reader about her case without excessive description, James is also not forgotten from the first part of the paragraph by the student linking it to the example in an evaluative and analytical way. It does not over complicate the structure, the evaluation is prominent and the links back to the question are noticeable.

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Assessing the Obvious: Key Knowledge Tests

R.S ResourcesThere are many reasons why students struggle with writing essays. It might be because of the higher level technique, the structuring of their own prose or arguing a certain standpoint. Or maybe we are missing the obvious…they just don’t have the recall of the basic information.

Because of this I introduced Key Knowledge Tests about three years ago (or KKT’s as my students know them). Every week I set a KKT in lesson to assess the previous week’s topic. They are designed to test the basic knowledge needed in order to survive on the course (some mainly key words, names and ideas).

Benefits for Student:

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Time Saving Tips: University Essays and Coursework

I have wrote a lot of essays in my time: College, University, PGCE and Masters. All in all, I have probably spent a large chunk of my life redrafting my own work a few thousand times to make it better. These are my top ten tips that I wish I had known at the start of my essay writing journey.

Trusty Tool Number One: Planning

Write a rough plan or guide for the different sections of your essay. This will help you maintain control over your writing and to avoid tangents and irrelevant material. When creating a design plan for your essay do not just stick to the lecture notes or tutorial content. Independent study is imperative.

Trusty Tool Number Two: Pick your sources carefully

Only reference books and journals, treat online articles ( even BBC news articles) as a rare treat. This is because they are hard to source and may still be based on unreliable or biased views. Also if you find your own sources it is worth checking with your seminar leader that they are appropriate. What might be a good article might be considered not quite reputable enough, especially if you base a significant part of your argument on it.  It is also important to note not to use too many sources or else you are just seen to be copying others’ work. Try include a good balance of primary and secondary sources.

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