Ethics and Research in Professional Contexts
Mrs K is a 37-year-old woman
with four children. She consults her doctor for irregular periods. She had been
using a diaphragm as contraception, having stopped taking birth control pills because
of their side effects.
Her doctor tells her that she
is pregnant. She does not want another child. She says she already has as many
children as she can cope with. Mrs K suffers from depression. Her doctor considers
her circumstances fall within
the Abortion Act 1967 and refers her to a clinic.
Mr K disagrees with
2 – The essay:
required to write an essay of no more than 3,000 words critically
discussing the application of ethical theories or approaches to your ethical
dilemma. This builds on and extends work done for the presentation.Your essay must
be submitted to the Undergraduate
office by Week 15 (see Evision for the submission date).
Weighting: 40 %
In the written assessment students should:
* describe the case-study containing an ethical dilemma. This should be no more
than 200 words. (Make sure your dilemma is realistic).
· identify the ethical
issues the dilemma raises – there will be more than one.
· identify the
different people involved, describe how each one might view the dilemma, and
explain why they take this position. (Different people might include patients,
users, carers, family members, the general public, pressure groups, front-line
professional workers, health and social care assistants, youth workers, service
· identify and discuss
potential conflict(s) and points of agreement in terms of ethical arguments;
· consider how gender,
ethnicity, religion, age, sexuality, etc might influence how people respond to
the ethical dilemma.
consider how far relevant codes of professional
conduct and law, as applied to the dilemma, help with arriving at a moral
a good ethics essay – Tips
assessment, you are required to critically analyse a ‘case-study’ containing an
ethical dilemma. Some of your case studies are based on real-life situations.
However, for the purpose of your essay, use the case-study as it is
presented. This is an abstract exercise with no one right answer, so if
during your research you find out what decision was actually made in a
particular case, this will not help you in constructing your own argument. If
you feel, while working on your essay, that there are facts you would need to
know which aren’t included in the case study, make sure that you highlight
these in your work. Part of the exercise is for you to be able to recognise
what extra information you would need to be able to make a reasoned ethical
argument. So if, for example, your chosen case study has not specified the age
of the patient, and you think that this is essential for making an ethical
judgement, you could write the following:
‘In this kind of situation it would
be essential to know the age of the patient because….’
could make an assumption (see below for more detail about assumptions) about
the patient’s age to support your argument:
age of the patient is a morally important factor here, for the following
reasons …. For the purposes of my argument I am assuming him to be 45, and will
base my argument on this assumption.’
struggle with spelling, grammar and punctuation, whether or not they are native
English speakers. In essays where analytical arguments are important, the good
use of English is essential. If we cannot understand what you mean, you won’t
do as well as you could have done. Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation
very carefully. Read your sentences through and ask yourself if they are clear
and make good sense. Make sure you know the meaning of every word you use. If
there are some you are not sure of, look them up in the dictionary, or replace
them with words you are more familiar with. Essays which are clear and
well-written will receive better marks than those which rely on obscure words
Reading is essential
for writing a good essay, but try to ensure that your essay is not simply an
amalgamation of different quotes. References should be used judiciously to
support your argument. If you include a quote, ask yourself if it is relevant.
If not, get rid of it! You should work out your argument before deciding
which quotes to use. An essay which contains many references, but does not make
a coherent argument will receive a lower mark than an essay which is
well-argued but contains no references at all.
In our ethics
class we have looked at a number of moral theories. These theories can be
useful tools for analysing problems. However, you should not feel obliged to
cover all of these theories in your essay. Some may be more relevant than others.
If the argument you are making in your essay does not fall neatly into one of
the moral theories we have addressed in class, don’t worry: as long as you
argue it well, and show your awareness of counter-arguments, you will get good
purpose of the essay is for you to demonstrate your ability to make a moral
argument. This is the single most important consideration to bear in mind. It
is not about demonstrating knowledge, or having read a library-full of books…
these things may help to make a good argument, but they are not the most
important factors. A good argument is clear, concise, and takes account of the
opposition. Think through the points you want to make, and ask yourself if
there are counter-arguments to your position. If so, strengthen your argument
by addressing these counter-arguments and saying why you think they are wrong.
If you think abortion is wrong, for example, imagine that you are talking to
someone who takes the opposite position. Would they agree with your argument?
What claims might they make?
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