Key Points

Exam practice

There are various types of questions you may get asked:

Have a look at 'Evaluating the Theories' and TICKETs (pdfs), as well as each of the ethical theories on War (AS) and the Environment (A2).

June 2015:

  1. Explain the main aims of Kant's ethical theory. [25]
  2. 'Kant's idea of universalisation does not work in practice.' Discuss. [10]

June 2014:

  1. Explain how the various formulations of the Categorical Imperative might be applied to an ethical issue. [25]
  2. 'The Categorical Imperative has no serious weaknesses.' Discuss. [10]

June 2013:

  1. Explain, with examples, the importance Kant placed upon doing one’s duty. [25]
  2. To what extent is doing one’s duty the most important part of ethics? [10]

June 2011:

  1. Explain the differences between the Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives. [25]
  2. How useful is Kant's theory when considering embryo research? [10]

In January 2011, candidates were asked:

  1. Explain Kant's argument for using the Categorical Imperative. [25]
  2. 'The universalisation of maxims by Kant cannot be defended.' Discuss. [10]

The following question was from June 2010:

  1. Explain how a follower of Kantian ethics might approach issues surrounding the right to a child. [25]
  2. 'The right to a child is an absolute.' Discuss. [10]

This question was from June 2009 :

  1. Explain the strengths of Kant's theory of ethics. [25]
  2. 'Kant's theory of ethics is not a useful approach to abortion.' Discuss. [10]

This question was from the January 2009 AS Ethics paper:

  1. Explain, with examples, Kant’s theory of the Categorical Imperative.

  2. ‘Kant’s theory has no serious weaknesses.’ Discuss.

This question was from the OCR Website :

  1. Explain Kant’s theory of duty.

  2. To what extent is Kant’s ethical theory a good approach to human embryo research?

The following are actual exam questions written by OCR:

(a) Explain what Kant meant by ‘the Categorical Imperative’. [33]

(b) Assess critically Kant’s claims about the Categorical Imperative. [17]

(taken from the OCR website)

(a) 'People should always do their duty.' Explain how Kant understood this concept. [33]

(b) 'The use of the Categorical Imperative makes no room for compassionate treatment of women who want abortions.' Discuss. [17]

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

The first time you answer an exam question, have your notes in front of you and take your time. Later, do it without notes there. Finally, try writing timed essays - each one (a and b) should take half an hour.

Here's part of a question to have a go at. Try it first, then click on it to see a sample answer:

Evaluate the argument that Kant’s moral theory could not support the idea of voluntary euthanasia.

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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