Writing application essays can be very difficult. You not only are juggling your topic with evaluation but applying it to an ethical issue. In this case, the question is even harder because you also have two compare two topics together. Now you could just talk about ethical dilemmas in general and whether Utilitarianism or Kant is more useful. However I think you run the risk of producing a vague and bland answer. I would stick with the dilemmas surrounding Business Ethics (this is what your examiners are really looking for.) So before you start writing decide which 2-3 dilemmas or issues you are going to talk about (e.g. sweatshops, treatment of employees, whistleblowers, globalization etc.)
This is an example of what I would class as a good introduction. This is because it displays to an examiner all the necessary elements in a simple and clear way, yet remaining informative (not descriptive) and is effective in the way it handles the question. From reading this introduction it is obvious what the question is. Always a sign of a good start!
When answering a question that specifies two theories (Util and Kant in this case) then you need to decide your four paragraph rule for each – this is your structure. It is only four paragraphs (not the usual five: The Five Paragraph Rule) because you are required to compare two theories rather than one (e.g. unlike the Natural Law and Euthanasia question I blogged about previously)- therefore you need time to explain and evaluate both.
Four paragraph rule=
- Bentham Principle of Utility
- Bentham’s HC – Act approach
- Mill H/L pleasures with pig quote
- Mill Principle of Utility with Altruism – Rule approach
- Categorical Formulation 1
- Categorical Formulation 2/3
Now you have your plan, keep the structure of your essay simple: theme of first topic – link to one business dilemma – evaluate ‘usefulness’ – compare to first theme of other theory – remain with same dilemma – evaluate which approach is more useful- summary sentence to say ‘at this stage’ which is more useful. Second paragraph compare second themes together with a different business dilemma.
I recommend you keep Utilitarianism as the structure of the essay for two reasons. One because it is the topic mentioned in the question first, so by starting the paragraphs with Util means you are always keeping the question in mind. Secondly I advise you to stick with the same topic at the start of your paragraphs to avoid adding further complications (one paragraph starting with Utilitarianism another starting with Kant etc. just sounds messy).
This is an example of a student who supports her essay writing by colour underlining the different elements of her structure so that she can make sure that each step (as above) is covered and to maintain consistency within paragraphs. Also the student highlights the use of ‘helpful’ demonstrating excellent essay writing skills because it is clear that the question is being answered and evaluation is present (I accidently set my classes different words in the question: one with ‘helpful’ one with ‘useful’).
This is another example of a very sophisticated paragraph comparing Utilitarianism with Kant whilst applying to Business Ethics. See the combination of evaluation with clear themes for the topics and effective links to Business ethics.The table below gives you a structural overview for Q2:
For further explanation on how to structure application questions please see: Tackling the Application Essays.
If you would like to see further examples of students work please see: “Natural law provides a helpful approach when dealing with issues surrounding euthanasia”: Student’s Work
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Revision bubbles/ advice and sample questions with guidance found in: