Euthanasia Discussion Questions

Please select a question from the list below, and make sure to clearly state the question you are answering at the start of your essay.


(1) What is utilitarianism? Critically assess the plausibility of this proposal.

(2) What is euthanasia, and why is it considered to be morally different to murder or suicide? Is it?

(3) What do you think is the best moral argument for vegetarianism? Does it work?

(4) Does freedom entail the ability to have done otherwise?

(5) What is the harm principle? Does it pose a justified limitation on our freedom?

(6) What is Rawls’ concepti on of a just society? Is it is tenable?

(7) What, if anything, would be wrong in simply saying that anything counts as art so long as this is what was intended by the creator of the artifact in question?

(8) Can two identical objects differ in their aesthetic properties?

(9) Can one properly form one’s aesthetic judgments via testimony from aesthetic experts?

(10) What are Gettier – style counterexamples, and how do they challenge the classical account of knowledge?

(11) Is knowledge more valuable than mere true belief?

(12) Is ‘knows’ a context – sensitive term ?

Writing tips:

– Always begin your essay along these lines: “Since the very dawn of time the problem of free will has been considered by many of the greatest and deepest thinkers in history.”

– Always end your essay along these lines: “So it can be seen from the above arguments that there are many different points of view about the free will problem.”

– Whenever in any doubt as to what to say about X, say, apropos of nothing in particular and without explanation, that X is extremely subjective.

– When that gets boring, try saying that X is all very relative. Never say what it is relative to.

– Use language with as little precision as possible. Engage heavily in malapropism and category mistakes. Refer to claims as “arguments” and to arguments as “claims”. Frequently describe sentences as “valid” and arguments as “true”. Use the word “logical” to mean plausible or true. Use “infer” when you mean “imply”. Never use the expression “begging the question” with its correct meaning but use it incorrectly as often as possible.

– “Argument” is perhaps the most important word in philosophy. So why not impress the marker by spelling it with two “e”s?

– Get into the habit of inserting words like “so” and “therefore” between sentences that are entirely irrelevant to one another. This, all by itself, will bring into being a mutual relevance that previously did not exist.

– Be careful always assiduously to avoid answering the question asked. There are so many other more interesting things for you to discuss.

– Put “quotation marks” round words “entirely” at random.

– Be completely defeated by apostrophes. Systematically confuse “its” and “it’s”.

– At some point in every essay, treat the marker to a brief Dr McCoy style sermon about the dangers of being too “logical” when trying to think about the existence of God/moral obligation/free will/the theory of knowledge/any subject matter whatever. To reinforce the point it always helps to point out how once again how very subjective the subject matter in question is.

– Avoid clarity at all costs. Remember: nothing that is clear can possibly be really deep. If as a result the marker gives you a third that just shows that your wisdom is going straight over his/her head.

– (Don’t, whatever you do, heed the words of Peter Medawar: “No one who has something original or important to say will willingly run the risk of being misunderstood; people who write obscurely are either unskilled in writing or up to mischief.” – What a silly man!)

– Remember. Paragraphs are for sissies. So are headings.

– Only little people use examples. Avoid them strenuously. If you must insist on using some, be sure to do so with studied irrelevance

-Carefully read the question in hand, and make sure you answer it (i.e., and don’t just write down everything you know about that general topic).

– Write clearly and stick to the point. Avoid giving unnecessary details.

– Remember that you get marked on the knowledge that you demonstrate, so make sure that you properly explain your points, and that you always define terms/position/principles (etc) that you introduce.

– Always argue for your points. Do not simply state opinions. Relatedly, remember that philosophy is not journalism, in that you are not bound to be even-handed (it is more akin to law).

– That said, you should always be careful to describe the opposing view as charitably as possible. Avoid ‘straw men’.

– Use examples to illustrate your points (ideally your own), as this demonstrates that you’ve understood the points that you’re making.

– Aim to structure your essay. For example, don’t discuss a view for several pages and only then explain what the view involves. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to sketch an essay plan before writing (particularly in an exam situation).

– You don’t have to cover everything. In general, it’s better to cover less ground and cover it in style than to cover lots of ground superficially. Note that you can still demonstrate that you are aware of other aspects of the debate by mentioning them and then setting them to one side (e.g., describe three objections to X in outline, but then state that you will in what follows be focussing on just one of them).

– Don’t plagiarise!