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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 13
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Defenders of situation ethics would argue that one of its key strengths is its flexibility; it allows for pragmatic decisions to be made where rule-based ethical systems follow their own absolute commandments.

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    permissible, but the modern scientific technique of just removing the foetus, which has the significant advantage of letting the mother still bear children, is not. Opponents would say that doing something like murdering Hitler brings you down to his level, and point out that it is against our consciences. But the phrase 'bringing you down to the same level' which disguises the fact that most people just find killing uncomfortable.

    • Word count: 486
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Evaluate the weaknesses of design arguments for the existence of God

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    The design argument is also a posteriori argument which means everything is based on experience of the world. This means that we can find evidence in the world to support the premises of the conclusion. Although, Kant emphasised that the design argument depended on the assumption that there is design in the universe. The design must be the independent work of a designer who imposed order and purpose in the universe. The argument is based on the assumption that there is irregularity, order and purpose in the universe.

    • Word count: 708
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Give an account of Kant's ethics

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    According to Kant one should not behave out of any inclinations or love and compassion. In this essay I will be giving a clear and detailed account of Kantian ethics by explaining the idea of good will and duty, the categorical imperative and it's sub-sections. According to Kant, the highest form of good is good will. He mentioned that good will is carrying out one's duty and doing only the actions which are morally required whilst avoiding any thought of the benefits that will be achieved which are considered to be morally wrong. A duty is good because it is good within itself meaning that one does his duty due to the fact that it is his solely one's duty.

    • Word count: 712
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Explain how Benthams version of Utilitarianism can be used to decide the best course of action

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    An example of when Act Utilitarianism could be used to decide the best course of action would be in a group of people choosing what topping to order on their pizza. If, for example, 3 out of the four people wanted pepperoni but the fourth person wanted ham, it only seems logical to order pepperoni. This is because the collective pleasure or happiness to be had by the first three outweighs the possible unhappiness, or possibly pain, of the fourth person.

    • Word count: 916
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    Give an account of Kants Ethical Theory

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    Only good will can be unconditional love. So for his theory, we humans must do our duty, which makes the will good. He says that duty is done for its own sake and not for any kind of benefit to our self. He says we know what is good by using reason. Kant says we have an obligation to do our duty; he calls this the Categorical Imperative. Kant has 2 categories, hypothetical and categorical imperatives. The hypothetical ones involve achieving specific targets and goals.

    • Word count: 922
  6. Explain Aristotles Theory that everything in the universe is caused

    This interest lead Aristotle to suggest that there are four different types of cause or explanation of why any object exists. In modern philosophy these four types of explanation are usually called the 'Four Causes'. Aristotle's Four Causes pertains to the four things that explain the cause or purpose of something, the first is called Material Cause. The Material cause relates to the cause of something in terms of the physical make-up. The Material Cause comes into existence due to its parts or materials.

    • Word count: 944
  7. Theodicy Essay: - St Augustine and Ireneus

    A question that could be asked is why, if creation was wholly good, would the angels choose to rebel. This could be responded to that since the creation was rich and diverse there must be grades of morality as well. I.e. greater and lesser goods. It can be said that Augustine's clarity on evil merely being a lack of good is successful. Augustine said that evil is a 'privation', merely a lack of goodness. Like a bird without a wing or as St Basil said an eye without sight. Many point out that if God is all loving then why would He plan hell as part of His creation.

    • Word count: 679
  8. The World of the forms is a myth made up by Plato. Discuss.

    Plato argues that the true form of a cat must exist somewhere; it exists in the world of the forms. A Form if unchanging because it is a concept, it is not like physical objects that copy the Form; they die. The Form is everlasting. So the forms exist in a different reality. It could be argued that many cultures although have different habits and traditions then others, all of them share the 'forms.'

    • Word count: 440
  9. Augustine's philosophy. In Augustines thinking all moral and natural (evil) comes from moral choices.

    So if God made the Universe and continues to keep it in existence for ever, then if people commit acts of evil, God is keeping alive those very people while they do those acts. He solved this problem by saying that god is responsible for the evil in the world by defining evil as 'privation.' This means that something is lacking a particular thing that is should have. Augustine gave the example of 'blindness'. He called this a privation, because if you are blind it means that you are unable to see - in other words, you lack the attribute of 'sight' or if you cannot walk - 'you lack the health you should have.'

    • Word count: 584
  10. Enlightenment Philosophers. These philosophers used to criticize the things around them but also giving a solution for example criticizing the government but stating how it could be improved.

    In the 18th century, educated middle class, nobles and artisans become more interested in reading and this helped enlightenment ideas spread more. In some countries like France, books were published and sold freely but in others like Russia, books were sold secretly. As already mentioned, these people who reasoned things out were philosophers. These philosophers had their own ideas and something that they wanted and admired. These philosophers used to criticize the things around them but also giving a solution for example criticizing the government but stating how it could be improved.

    • Word count: 644
  11. The concept of God is incoherent. Discuss

    For example; creating a stone so heavy, that he could not lift it. However the suggestion that God makes a stone so heavy that he himself cannot lift it is actually a contradiction and so logically this makes it impossible. One might react to this by saying that God is indeed so powerful that he can defy the laws of logic. However, a better response, in my view, is that 'being unable to do what is logically impossible' is not a genuine limitation on God's power, since any proposition that purports to say that some logically impossible act has been performed is in fact nonsense.

    • Word count: 557
  12. Explain the main features of the design argument for the existence of God.Science makes the design argument irrelevant assess the claim

    In addition, Aquinas featured an analogy in his argument; he argued that an arrow cannot be directed to its goal without the aid of a guiding hand (archer) William Paley took a different approach in explaining the existence of God. The first part of his arguments was design qua regularity. Paley used a simple analogy when developing his design argument. If we were to find a pocket watch, we would presume that all its parts were put together for a certain purpose and did not come to existence by chance. So someone must have designed the watch for its purpose.

    • Word count: 861
  13. Utilitarianism. The father of utilitarianism is considered to be Jeremy Bentham, who believed the pleasure should be measured quantitively. For example, if ten people wanted to eat chocolate, and one person wanted to read Shakespeare

    He said: "Better to be Socrates dissatisfied, than a fool satisfied". This quote emphasises his belief that there are higher forms of pleasure; Socrates would see pleasure as seeking wisdom, while a fool may see pleasure as watching television. Bentham thought that he could empirically and scientifically measure pleasure through a set of seven criteria. One of these criteria was duration - who long would the pleasure last? Another is certainty - how certain is it that you will actually gain pleasure?

    • Word count: 910
  14. Criticisms about Agustinians Theodicy, and the strengths and weaknesses.

    This bought about disharmony both in our human nature and in creation, it also destroyed the delicate balance of the world (the good world god created) and caused the world to become distanced to god. Hence, God created a perfect world which was very good. Natural evil is a consequence of the disharmony of nature brought about by the fall, human actions brought about it. Moral evil is the second and flourished and spread in a now imperfect world.

    • Word count: 537
  15. Explain the Cosmological argument for the existence of God.

    From his idea of the one primary mover, Plato suggested that there were secondary movers ( for example humans) who could only change with the help of a primary mover, therefore the prime mover could not be dependent on any other being or it would not be primary. Aristotle took Plato's idea and developed it , he too said that all changes in the universe must come from one ultimate source, however he uses a different method to make the non existence of one ultimate being an impossibility.

    • Word count: 942
  16. How far do the criticisms of the cosmological argument weaken it? (10 marks)

    A defender may say that " Reductio Ad Absurdum " covers this and that it is impossible to conceive the universe as being a product of its own creation , this retaliation still leaves a loophole as it is simply an assumption to think that a reasonable human being is only able to think of God as being the first cause. Another criticism is from David Hume, a Scottish philosopher who states a peculiar view. Hume stated that for example, just because when we hit one snooker ball into another, the "hit" ball moves, this does not necessarily mean that

    • Word count: 655
  17. Religious Experience is Nothing but Fantasy. Discuss (35 Marks)

    But how does one explain those who do not experience religious phenomena? Are some people born with Gods calling card? This in my mind is where atheists and theists will never agree; theists will say God only chooses some to be his messengers and atheists will say that our genetics and upbringing predispose some of us to superstition. In this way we cannot know whether each and every religious experience is fantasy; a conclusion reached by Bertrand Russell who reasoned that the fundamental truth that we cannot get inside someone else's head and verify the experience deems this argument irresolvable.

    • Word count: 805
  18. If God knows what we are going to do, he has no right to reward the good and punish the wicked (35 marks)

    As with a parent punishing their child for dangerous behaviour, the brain does this a reason, to prevent reoccurrence of the same, damaging behaviour. This is where God differs as his punishment of eternal damnation has no effect upon the existing world and so it cannot be classed as punishment; nor heaven as a reward. This shows that God has no right to inflict pain or grant pleasure after death, so he can only legitimately reward and punish on earth. Even so this brings in the problem of evil; he clearly does not always punish the wicked (changing their ways)

    • Word count: 591
  19. Explain the theodicy of Irenaeus. Irenaeus theodicy is the response to the problem of evil, which like Augustines traces back to the idea of humans free will being the source of evil.

    We have been made in the image of God with the potential to be like God. If we were just made to be perfect it would mean nothing to God. However, if we prove to God by the choice of free will it will show God we really care as we are choosing to do good. To back up this point Irenaeus uses the example of a mother not being able to give a child 'substantial nourishment' or solid food. This meaning, just as a young infant can't take solid foods and therefore is given milk as they are immature, humans could not receive fully formed goodness, as they were spiritually immature and so are given free will to develop their own goodness.

    • Word count: 824
  20. Explain the difference between Act and rule utilitarianism

    The out come must bring out the 'Greatest good for the greatest number.' Thus cannot be for one person alone as an act utililitarianist aim to bring out the maximum amount of good and least amount of pain. For example in act utilitarianism a group of people may be on there way to the cinema, however may come across a lady asking to give money for charity, according to act utilitarianism the people would therefore have to give up there cinema money and give it to charity instead, this is done because it would cause the maximum amount of good,

    • Word count: 956
  21. To what extent is god's omnipotence a logically coherant concept

    any matter and so can't run does this mean that we are better than god by being able to do something that he can't and therefore he isn't omnipotent. The omnipotence of god and the paradoxes it creates were attempted to be solved by Rene Descartes he theorised that god is completely omnipotent and there is nothing that cannot do e.g. create a stone too big for him to lift. Descartes would then go on the say that although he has created a so called object that he cannot lift he would be able to lift because of his omnipotence no matter how logically impossible the instance.

    • Word count: 688
  22. The body soul distinction is a myth derived from philosophers such as plato discuss.

    imprisoned in our bodies, and that we can only fully access it by dividing the soul from the body, he says to be a true philosopher, we should aim to gather our mind into itself where it is not disturbed by any pleasures nor pains, he believes that once the soul has as little as possible to do with the body, and has no bodily sense of feeling that is when a person can attain true truths, not misconstrued truths from inaccurate witnesses.

    • Word count: 578
  23. Religious responses to the verification principle have been largely unsuccessful. Evaluate this claim.

    In response to the falsification principle, R.M Hare criticised it with his theory of the 'blik', which is an individual's own personal opinion and meaningful statements. He says that you cannot falsify the blik because it holds meaning to the individual. Christians will think in their minds that God is good; this is their own thought so we cannot prove their 'blik' wrong. However, Flew replies to this criticism saying that this is not relevant and cannot be applied to religious language as it has not happened in real life, just in someone's mind.

    • Word count: 648
  24. Outline the ontological argument. The ontological argument is based on the idea that the very fact that we have a concept of God must mean that He exists.

    In Anselm's book Proslogion (Discourse on the existence of God,) Anselm defined God as 'that than which nothing greater can be thought' and from this Anselm developed the first part of his argument. It means that a being that cannot be improved upon and to think of a greater being must be God. Anselm supports the statement in Psalms that 'The fool has said in his heart "there is no God".' Anselm says that it is absurd that an atheist (fool)

    • Word count: 684
  25. Explain how Aquinass theory of Natural Law can be used to decide on the right course of action. (25 Marks)

    * Even without knowledge of God, reason can discover the laws that lead to human flourishing. * The Natural Laws are universal and unchangeable and should be used to judge the laws of particular societies. Like Aristotle, Aquinas concludes that humans aim for some goal or purpose, but does not see this as eudemonia which Aristotle saw as the final goal for humans (supreme happiness/good). Humans for Aquinas are above all made "in the image of god" and so the supreme good must be the development of this image i.e.

    • Word count: 718

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Religious responses to the verification principle have been largely unsuccessful. Evaluate this claim.

    "To conclude, I think there are a few reasonable responses to the verification principle such as the falsification principle, as this does not limit God to our understanding but we can still talk about Him. Also the doctrine of analogy is a strong theory as we can compare one thing to another thing we are familiar with without properly describing the unfamiliar thing and this makes it easier for us to understand. However, symbols can often be misinterpreted and lead to confusion, as they don't say enough about God and religion for people to fully understand."

  • "The design argument is challenged far more by science than by philosophy." Discuss with specific reference to the work of Darwin and Hume.

    "In conclusion, which is actually the bigger challenge science or philosophy? Darwin can't explain the goal of evolution so he doesn't get rid of the idea of the designer. So, in effect Darwin's theory can work in tandem with the Design argument. On the other hand, some say that Hume destroys the Design argument whereas others say that it is just there as evidence for people who already believe. However, should you need proof? All in all, science provides evidence against the argument whereas philosophy only provides ideas and arguments."

  • Compare and Contrast the Philisophical Contributions of Nietzsche and Mill to our understanding of political and social tyranny.

    "Both have similar views on the topic of religion, arguing that no longer should one set of religious truths be imposed on a population. To move forward, to progress, is to explore the world through the exercise of human reason and critical enquiry. For Nietzsche, we must continually question everything, for there is no absolute truth. We have to find our own truth. We do this by being individual, and not following a herd. For Mill, we are rational thinkers, and bases his theory on this view - that we will come to sensible conclusions. Hence, both philosophers advocate maximising negative liberty as a necessary condition for human flourishing. With the freedom to be individual without the barriers or constraints of tyranny, we as a society and as individuals' progress and new ideas are formed. New values are made, replacing old ones. The Elitist vs. the Liberalist approach is where the two philosophers differ in attitudes. Taking into consideration a rejection of negative liberty, this could be used to pave the way for an alternative account. Hollie Mckechnie"

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