AS OCR Religious Studies - Ethics - Whole Revision Pack of the Module

Everything you need to know for the Ethics exam in summer! 26 or so pages packed with revised notes taken from the OCR Ethics AS/A2 textbook. Hope it is useful and good luck with all your AS exams! :) Caitlin 

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Absolutists Theories
Strong Utilitarianism
Natural Law
A `moral law' that is universal and applies in all circumstances
Deontological ­ concerned with the actions and also whether an act is intrinsically good or bad.
Natural Moral Law for example is absolutist as it is only concerned with using reason to discern the
most moral option, thus the action can be good in itself, regardless of the consequences.
Relative Theories
Situation Ethics
Act Utilitarianism
weak rule Utilitarianism
A `moral law' that changes and adapts to its circumstances and situations
Teleological (or Consequentialist) ­ concerned with the result and consequence of an action, not the
action itself
Utilitarianism for example is teleological and relative because it does not have any categorical rules
or standards, it is purely consequentialist.
Absolute Morality
Absolutists hold that things are wrong from an objective point of view, not just from one's
Right and Wrong cannot change. They aren't affected by mitigated circumstances ­ for example cold
blooded murder and crime of passion are exactly the same.
Immoral acts are intrinsically wrong. Consequence is irrelevant.
Plato is an Absolutist as there are immutable forms
Advantages to Absolute Morality:
1. Fixed ethical code to measure actions
2. Universal and equal view of ethics ­ Human Rights is absolutist
1. Doesn't take circumstances into account
2. intolerant of cultural diversity
3. Doesn't allow for a lesser of evil ­ Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Absolutists say 100% wrong.
However war would have gone on for another 18 months with more deaths
Relative Morality

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People don't always agree what is right and wrong. Different cultures express different moral
codes of conduct.
Protagoras said "Man is a measure of all things."
Aristotle is a relativist, as he said the forms are in the world and are thus relative.
Not possible to have a general rule to cover every situation.
Advantages of Relative Morality:
1. Encourages cultural diversity
2. Prohibits a dominant culture
3. Flexible
1. Existence of different beliefs doesn't mean they are all equal
2.…read more

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The Secondary Precepts are said to be Relativist.
Both the intention and the act are important. It is impossible to have a good/bad interior act
and a good/bad exterior etc.
St Thomas believed that God created us Good and wanted us to be with him, but also gave us free
will. Therefore there must have been a set of rules that lead us to the path with God.…read more

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The Secondary Precepts are teleological and could thus contradict the Primary Precepts
6. Reason can be corrupted and maybe the ethics in the Bible should be followed...
7. Jesus opposed legalistic morality.…read more

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My interests cannot, simply because they are my own, count more than the interests of anyone
Believed that in any situation the interests of all concerned should be evaluated
For example, someone who doesn't want to die but is killed is wrong (Involuntary Euthanasia). But at
the same time someone who wants to die but isn't allowed to is also wrong (Voluntary Euthanasia).…read more

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The Naturalistic Fallacy
From the mere statement of psychological fact that people actually desire happiness for its own
One cannot deduce the evaluative conclusion that pleasure is desirable e.g. that it ought to
be desired.
People may desire something that they ought to not to desire, something which is not really
desirable.…read more

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Moral requirements are categorical ­ you ought to do such and such regardless of your own
Universalisation ­ Apply maxims to one's actions and then ask whether that particular action
Duty ­ Our actions should be entirely free from self-interests
Never use a human being as a means to an end
3 Motives that Shouldn't Be
1.…read more

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Strengths of Kantian Moral Ethics:
1. Straight forward and based on reason
2. Clear criteria to what is moral
3. Deontological
4. Categorical Imperative is a rule that applies to everyone
5. Commands respect for human life
6. Justice ­ corrects Utilitarianism which says that injustice can be justified by majority benefit
7. Kant distinguishes between duty and inclination. Stops the idea that what is pleasurable and
what is good.
1. Can be cold and inhuman (the Eichmann Case)
2.…read more

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We have been given a conscious which provides us with an intuitive sense of right and wrong (Moral
`The Fall' led to a break of harmony in the world and replaced it with disharmony, death, chaos and
conflict. This can be overcome by entering the covenant with God.
The 10 Commandments are the moral rules and are absolute.…read more

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Laws of the Old Testament can be a good example for this theory
If we do good acts simply because out of the obedience to God - are we being good for the right
God commands things which are right and wrong in themselves ­ murder is intrinsically wrong and this
is why God forbids it
This seems like there is a standard right and wrong which is independent of God
Unqualified obedience to God abandons personal autonomy ­ the rightness of an action…read more



Thank you!! This is very helpful :)

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