A Level Philosophy
The course is made of up three key themes: Philosophy of Religion, Ethical theory and Buddhism. This task is designed to introduce you to some of the ethical theories that you will be studying over the next two years. In 1967, Philippa Foot devised a famous thought experiment to explore our ethical decision making called the ‘Trolley Problem’.
Task: Watch this video that introduces the problem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg16u_bzjPE
There are two main responses to this dilemma:
- CONSEQUENTIALISTS would argue that the right thing to do would be to pull the lever, or to throw the large man over the bridge because the right thing to do is the action that brings about the best consequences.
- DEONTOLOGISTS would disagree with this. They would say that actions are right or wrong in themselves, and so regardless of the consequences, if an action is wrong, then it is never acceptable to do it.
Extension: to develop this further, watch episode 5 of Season 2 of ‘The Good Place’ – an American show on Netflix that explores lots of philosophical problems. If you don’t have Netflix, there’s this clip on YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWb_svTrcOg
Task: study a theory and apply it to the Trolley Problem
The ethical theory you need to research is SITUATION ETHICS
1. Use the internet to research a little information about the ethical theory you have been given, for example, key scholars, key ideas. Find out whether it is a consequentialist or a deontological ethical theory and HOW the theory makes ethical decisions. Start with this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/introduction/situation_1.shtml
2. Once you are confident you know what the theory is and how it would solve moral dilemmas, you now need to apply the theory to both of the trolley dilemmas. Remember to explain WHY they would make the decisions made, not just the choices made!
3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your ethical theory. Do you think this ethical theory made the right decision? Why or why not? Reach a conclusion: Is this a good ethical theory?
We will discuss this during induction week and in the first term we will be studying the Philosophy of Religion which explores questions like this and others about the existence of God. Bring your notes from this task in the first week and we look forward to seeing you then…