One basic issue to clarify is exactly what the word ‘analysis’ means. At A/AS level we are expected to analyse ethical theories – implying that we can explain how the theory moves from assumptions and worldview to a conclusion about what it means to say ‘X is good’ and ‘action Y is bad’.

Think of as many verbs as you can that could be related to the word analyse (if you have problems thinking of any, try Roget’s Thesaurus online)


  • Distinguish
  • Differentiate
  • Appraise
  • Test
  • Compare
  • Contrast
  • Examine
  • Sort
  • Connect

Devise questions from the Utilitarianism section of the syllabus using one of the verbs.


Explain how Mill's form of Utilitarianism was different to that of Bentham's.

Examine the reasoning behind Mill’s rule utilitarianism.

Choose one of your statements from the previous activity and write an opening paragraph of a possible answer.

Hint: it may help to produce a summary sheet on the aspect of utilitarian ethics you wish to concentrate on. In the summary sheet start with technical vocabulary, then key ideas, then important connections, and then the conclusion the theory comes to. Remember the base questions in ethics are twofold: 1. How does this theory derive the idea of goodness? And 2. How does the theory apply the idea of goodness so derived?