Religious Studies Ethics Revision Guide

A revision guide for the OCR exam, containing relevant and condensed content on Absolutism and Relativism, Deontology and Teleology, Natural Law, Situation Ethics (Religious Ethics), Kantian Ethics and Utilitarianism. 

It also includes the application of these theories to Abortion, the Right to a Child, Euthanasia, War and Peace, and Genetic Engineering.

Some of the content is taken from the OCR textbook for students.

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AS Ethics Revision Guide

March 2015
For the Summer 2015 Examination

© Toni Adejuyigbe


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To maintain that some things are right and others are wrong, always and
for everyone, is to take an absolutist view. Absolutists believe that certain
ethical norms or precepts exist, independent of human experience. These
moral rules are objective and universal. Absolutists believe that immoral
acts are intrinsically wrong.…

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Relativists believe that there are no objective truths
Moral values are relative to societies and to individuals. Concepts like
goodness, justice and truth have a range of meanings. Moral statements
reflect people's responses to issues rather than the "right" answer.
The only categorical or `absolute' statement that a relativist…

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moral agent. Duty comes first: you should obey the rules and follow your
duty even if it isn't in your favour or to your advantage.

Deontological Approaches: Kant
The best example of a deontological approach is Immanuel Kant.
He argued that reason shows us what to do: "act in such…

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consequentialist. If you decide to give to the cause with the purpose of
achieving a specific aim (e.g. saving more lives) your focus is teleological.
(In practice, and for our purposes, the two will usually produce a similar

Teleological approaches
There are more examples of teleological and consequentialist ethics…

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As God created the world ex nihilo (out of nothing), He is the author of the
natural world. Inherent divine design in nature may be discovered
through reason ­ this means that we could further understand the ideas
of God by using our reason. Aquinas believed that good reasons would…

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of particular acts, and so it allows for some measure of flexibility.
The Doctrine of Double Effect is also a way through moral
dilemmas when two rules conflict.
· Moral decision-making is not done by reason alone. Aquinas also
involves the imaginations ­ the body, the emotions and passions ­…

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Autonomy is (self deciding and a priori) while Heteronomy is (the law(s) imposed
upon you and a posteriori.) Kant believed that morally human beings are
autonomous. We don't follow a certain rule because they are given to us but
rather because we can see the sense in it, we understand…

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· Kant sees humans as being of intrinsic worth and dignity as they are rational
creatures. Humans cannot be enslaved or exploited. This is the basis of the
Declaration of Human Rights.

Weaknesses of Kant's Theory of Ethics
· Kant's theory is abstract and not always easily applied to moral…

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Ross shows that there are possible exceptions to any rule and these exceptions
depend on the situation in which I do my duty, the possible consequences of
doing my duty and the personal relationships involved.

However, calling these `duties' may be a bit misleading, as they are not so much…


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