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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

How to Write an Ethics Essay: Tips and Example

Ethics essays are often set for students in higher education. Why exactly? Morality is a wonderful topic of vast discovery, critical thinking and evaluation. So what exactly do ethics relate to? Ethics are moral principles that guide a person’s behavior or activity. It is also a branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles - the term “morality” and “ethics” can mean pretty much the same thing.

An Ethical Approach

If you’re writing an argumentative essay, ethics is a great one to choose, because any ethical topic is bound to bring many opinions with it. With many opinions comes a lot of research, so leave ample time to read about people’s opinions in order to build robust arguments. You can use a variety of sources, from popular philosophy literature to academic journal articles, but make sure you’re making a note of all of these with a well organized bibliography. Also, just because one person says something, doesn’t mean you should take it at face value - there are a lot of quacks out there, so only reference opinions from reputable sources.

The Introduction

If you’re not in tune with ethics, you’re not really in tune with the real world - this is because ethics relates to any decisions we, as a society, make. Because of this, there is an enormous range of ethical topics you can discuss, so make sure that your essay doesn’t feature a mundane topic and instead you pick a topic that allows for appropriate elaboration and discussion. After engaging the audience with some thought provoking material, you’ll need to follow on with a clear and succinct thesis statement. This will show the reader of what you’re arguing for and against. From here, you’ll be able to demonstrate your opinion and critically evaluate using good sources to put your point across. It’s crucial, that before you write anything, you create a plan of all your main arguments and points that need to be featured in the body of your essay - without this, it’ll be easy to get carried away with a tangled web of arguments and opinions, rather than a coherent, structured essay. An engaging introductory paragraph can take some time to refine, but make it great - your thesis statement needs to shine as a basis for the rest of your work.

The Importance of Ethics

Imagine, if every single society on Earth had no understanding of ethics, it wouldn’t be a great place to live and we, certainly, wouldn’t be able to survive for very long. Ethics is extremely important and you should make your reader aware of why your essay’s body is important ethically. All the body of your work should ultimately link back several times to your thesis statement, reminding the importance of your ethical concerns. Every essay should focus on a core set of arguments, as well as valid reasons for your arguments. Whether you pick a controversial topic, such as the ethics of euthanasia, or a softer topic such as the ethics of consumer spending, you’re likely going to have a lot of personal opinions. However, with any opinion, you’ll want to reference this to the work of professionals in the field. If you can back up your arguments with some solid expert quotes, this can really give your arguments credibility.

Writing a Conclusion

Hopefully, as you’ve been writing your essay you’ve become highly engaged in your topic, but remember that you can’t go on forever, nor will your reader want to keep reading forever. Work your essay up towards a summary at the end with a strong conclusion. The final paragraph should let your reader decide the strength of the arguments presented and the overall take home message. Do you feel as though your reader understands your thesis statement? You’ll need to refer to this just like in the body. As a tip, you can reword your thesis statement in the conclusion to save you a bit of time and keep the essay flowing smoothly.

All Important Final Checks

Final checks will make all the difference. Do you think reputable philosophers, such as Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, rushed through their essays as quickly as possible before throwing them into the public’s face? - Of course, not. It would be a great shame, if a well thought out paper was tarnished with a few grammatical mistakes and schoolboy errors, so make sure you check the whole essay for these and then check again for good measure. Try reading your paper out loud to yourself to see if your arguments and ideas flow smoothly. If not, you should go back and consider making some changes. As Plato, the philosopher, said: “Nothing worthwhile is easy”. So take a hint from Plato, one of the most ethical people that has ever lived, and put some time into making those final checks to write the best possible essay you can.