Key Points

Exam practice

June 2015

Evaluate the claim that moral judgements are based on an unquestionable intuitive knowledge of what is good. [35]

June 2013

Critically assess the view that the word ‘good’ has no real meaning. [35]

June 2012

To what extent do moral statements have objective meaning? [35]

January 2012

‘All ethical language is prescriptive.’ Discuss. [35]

June 2011

‘Ethical statements are no more than expressions of emotion.’  Discuss. [35] 

See an excellent answer to almost exactly this question on Peter Baron's superb Philosophical Investigations site. Surprised not to see Intuitionism covered, but a quality essay, with comments from the marker.

January 2010:

To what extent is ethical language meaningful? [35]

The examiner reported:

There were some very good responses to this question; it clearly caught the imagination and abilities of some candidates and many of the best answers in this unit came from this question. Some candidates were positively enthused by discussing ethical language and did so with great flair.

Candidates were able to make links and cross-references to the problems of religious language and were able to make connections between these approaches to language.

Most answers were not poor but they tended to trot out the pre-prepared answer and therefore appeared (relatively) pedestrian.

There were no common errors or misconceptions.

The following are actual exam questions written by OCR:

(a) Explain what scholars mean when they say that ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion. [33]

(b) How far do you consider these views to be justified? [17]

(taken from the OCR website - mark scheme included there)

(a) Explain how meta-ethics is different from normative ethics. [33]

(b) ‘Everyone knows what “good” means.’ Discuss. [17]

(taken from the OCR website)

We now have an interactive diagram showing how to answer an ethics exam question, The 'structure' of the paragraph will be different for 'ethical theory' questions, but the basic principles are the same. Try filling it in yourself and print out the completed diagram.

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