Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism

Here are some past questions on utilitarianism from the OCR board for AS level.

It is important to analyse past questions to know the mind of the examiner. Often question themes repeat themselves, even if the wording is different. Then produce essay plans and, very important, practise under timed conditions.

The question number follows the date of the paper. By going to the OCR website, you can download a mark scheme for that question, which gives valuable guidance on how to achieve an A grade. The specification changed in 2008, (see 2009 below code G572), so that the sections are marked out of 25 for part a. and 10 for part b. The two parts reflect different skills: part a. tests knowledge and understanding, part b. analysis and evaluation.

You have 45 minutes per question (to do 2 out of a choice of 4).

Mark schemes can be downloaded from the OCR site (reference G2760 or G2762 up to 2008, and G572 from 2009).

Specimen
a. Explain the main differences between Act and Rule Utilitarianism
b. To what extent is utilitarianism a useful method of making decisions about euthanasia?Jan 2001
a. Describe the main strengths of a Utilitarian ethical system.
b. To what extent is Utilitarianism a useful method of making decisions about abortion?

June 2001
a. Describe the main differences between the Utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill.
b. Evaluate the claim that Utilitarianism is a useful method in judging issues of voluntary euthanasia.

Jan 2002
a. Explain J.S. Mill’s version of Utilitarianism.
b. To what extent is Utilitarianism a useful method of making decisions about abortion?

June 2002
a. Describe the main strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism.
b. Evaluate a utilitarian approach to genetic engineering.

Jan 2003
a. Explain the main arguments in favour of utilitarianism.
b. Assess the value of utilitarianism in relation to the “right to a child.”

June 2003
a. Explain Bentham’s version of utilitarianism
b. “Bentham’s version of utilitarianism cannot be defended”. Discuss .

Jan 2004
a. Explain the strengths of utilitarianism
b. “Utilitarianism has serious weaknesses.” Discuss.

June 2004
a. Explain Mill’s version of utilitarianism.
b. “Mill’s version of Utilitarianism is morally unacceptable.” Discuss.

Jan 2005
a. Explain how utilitarianism can be applied to embryo research.
b. To what extent can embryo research be justified?

June 2005
a. Explain the main differences between Utilitarianism and ethics of Kant.
b. “Happiness is the most important consideration in ethics.”Discuss.

Jan 2007
a. Explain the main differences between Act and Rule Utilitarianism.
b. ‘Rule Utilitarianism ignores consequences.’ Discuss.

June 2007
a.  Explain the main strengths of Mill’s version of Utilitarianism.
b. ‘Mill’s Utilitarianism has no serious weaknesses.’ Discuss.

a. Explain how Utilitarianism might be applied to the issues surrounding the right to a child.
b. ‘Utilitarianism can lead to wrong moral decisions.’ Discuss.

January 2008
a. Explain the differences between Bentham’s and Mill’s versions of Utilitarianism.
b. ‘Utilitarianism is the best approach to euthanasia.’ Discuss.

June 2008
a.  Explain the main weaknesses of Bentham’s version of utilitarianism.
b.  “Mill’s version of utilitarianism avoids the problems of Bentham’s version.” Discuss.

Jan 2009 (new spec)
a. Explain how Bentham’s version of Utilitarianism can be used to decide on the right course of action. (25)
b. “Utilitarianism is the best approach to euthanasia.” Discuss. (10) (G572 Q2)

Jan 2010 (new spec)
a. Explain how Utilitarians approach the issues of war. (25)
b. “Pacifism causes more harm than good.” Discuss. (10) (G572 Q2)

June 2010 (new spec)
a. Explain the main strengths of Mill’s Utilitarianism. (25)
b. “Utilitarianism can lead to wrong moral decisions.” Discuss (10) (G572 Q2)

Mark scheme
Examiner’s report

Jan 2011 (new spec)
a. Explain the main differences between Act and Rule Utilitarianism. (25)
b. To what extent is Utilitarianism a useful method of making decisions about euthanasia. (10) (G572 Q1) 

Mark Scheme

June 2011
a. Explain the Preference Utilitarianism of Peter Singer. (25)
b. To what extent is Preference Utilitarianism the best form of Utilitarianism? (10) G572 Q2

Jan 2012 (new spec)
a. Explain the main difference between the Utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill (25)
b. “Mill’s Utilitarianism is superior in every way to the Utilitarianism of Bentham.” Discuss (10) G572 Q1

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