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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  1. Explain the argument from religious experience for the existence of God.

    Teresa of Avila where she struggled to fully describe her experience with God. ?O my God, what must a soul be like when it is in this state!? she states. Noetic Quality refers to the fact that religious experiences provide a sense of deeper understanding and knowledge of the divine.

    • Word count: 540
  2. Cosmological Argument Essay RSS03

    St Thomas Aquinas (1224 ? 1274) was a Catholic Priest and one of the most important medieval philosophers and author of many books ? his most famous being the Summa Theologica. In his Summa Theologica Aquinas explained five proofs for the existence of God, the first three of which include; Motion, Cause and Contingency. The first way is the argument from Motion. After studying the work from Greek philosopher Aristotle, Aquinas concluded that an object that is in motion (moves) is put in motion by another object or force.

    • Word count: 724
  3. Analyse Wiles view on miracles

    In other words, if miracles actually happened, God would make them very uncommon in order to ensure that humans did not think that the laws of nature are not strict and absolute laws that are always followed. The second statement is that the pattern of miracles appears strange. By this he means that miracles that the church and people have recorded are too random in nature and in the times that they have happened. If God was to act in the world, he would make his miracles more iconic less random.

    • Word count: 766
  4. Explain the origins and development of the teleological argument

    Design arguments are a posteriori meaning they are derived by reasoning from observed facts. The argument is also synthetic, meaning it requires physical evidence, and it is inductive. An inductive argument is an argument that is intended by the arguer merely to establish or increase the probability of its conclusion. This is because Aquinas was writing primarily to justify the faith of those that are already theists. Aquinas observed the universe and saw that everything in the universe appeared to be working in some sort of order. In particular he noticed that ?natural bodies? ? such as plants - behaved in a regular way.

    • Word count: 874
  5. Explain the difficulties which the problem of evil poses for the religious believer.

    The creator of our universe, says Hume, might have been a god in his dotage. Or perhaps he was `an infant deity' still practising his craft. The suffering of children is a particular stumbling block for believers. It is understandable why sinful adults should suffer, but unless one holds to the doctrine of total depravity children are innocent. The Brothers Karamazov by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky explores this theme. It tells the story of brothers Ivan and Alyosha - Alyosha is a holy young monk, whilst Ivan is a worldly-wise young man returning home from the big city.

    • Word count: 924
  6. Describe the origins and nature of the Ontological argument for the existence of God.

    He starts by defining God as, ?a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.? His argument can be outlined as thus: God is the greatest possible being. If God existed only in the mind and not reality, then we could imagine another great being that exists both in the mind and reality. That would make that being greater than God, which is impossible. Therefore God must exist both in reality and the mind. Anselm claims God is a necessary existence, because he is too great not to exist.

    • Word count: 767
  7. With reference to other aspects of human experience, explore the view that suffering is necessary for human development and freedom to be enjoyed.

    He even argues that certain pain can be pleasurable, for example muscle ache after exercise gives is a sense of accomplishment. Moving on to development, suffering can be the catalyst for human progress. When we suffer we develop traits such as empathy and altruism. If we didn?t suffer we could become narrow-minded and self-entitled. For example, the enormous suffering of the first and second world wars spurred many advances such as penicillin and the first computer.

    • Word count: 527
  8. Explain the features and origins of the Cosmological Argument

    The Greek word ?cosmos? was coined by the philosopher Pythagoras to refer to the order of the universe. The actual cosmological argument for the existence of God was first put forward by Plato. For Plato God is timeless, spaceless and unchanging in contrast to this fleeting world. However, the most famous proponent of this argument is Aquinas. He wrote about it in Summa Theologica and three of his Five Ways deal with cosmology: The Unmoved Mover, The Uncaused Causer and Possibility and Necessity.

    • Word count: 977
  9. With reference to the life and work of Martin Buber describe and explain this contribution to Mysticism and religious experience.

    A key extrovertive mystic is Martin Buber. In examining his contribution to religious experience, a good place to start is considering his background. Martin Buber was a mystic who lived from 1878-1965. He was an Austrian Jew and was highly influenced by his grandparents and by his grandfather in particular who was a respected Jewish ?Midrash? writer. He was essentially brought up by his grandparents after the break-up of his parent?s marriage and Buber was included and encouraged to engage in discussion with the dinner guests, mostly on theological and philosophical issues. Buber?s early philosophical ideas were heavily influenced by Kant, Neitzche and later those of Kierkegaard.

    • Word count: 958
  10. Explain the main challenges to the arguments for the existence of God

    Our world is not like a machine at all since it is composed of vegetables and animals. It is more organic than it is mechanical. Hume also pointed out that intelligence is not the only governing principle behind the world, there are others such as: generation, vegetation, and gravity. So why should one of these not be the dominant principle? Indeed why should different principles not rule over their own natural domains: vegetation in plants, generation in animals, gravity in the movement of the planets?

    • Word count: 785
  11. Utilitarianism practice paper essay plan.

    In order to work out how to gain the most amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain, Bentham created the felicific calculus. Some of the principles of the felicific calculus are duration, purity, extent, fecundity and propinquity. Duration is how long the pleasure or pain lasts, purity is how much pleasure without pain there is, extent is how far it reaches, fecundity is how far it goes into the future and propinquity is the remoteness of the pain or pleasure.

    • Word count: 895
  12. With reference to other aspects of human experience explore the claim that atheism is without foundation. Justify your answer

    The main problem facing the atheist is that his position can never be proved. Atheism is a negative, existential assertion: something does not exist, whereas theism is a positive assertion: something does exist. It is possible to prove that something exists by demonstrating proof, however it is impossible to find demonstrative proof that something does not exist. For example, an atheist will assert that God does not exist. However, to have concrete proof of this claim the atheist would have had to have existed at all times and in all places to verify that God is nowhere to be found.

    • Word count: 535
  13. Critically assess Platos claim that there are forms, with particular, but not exclusive to Aristotles objections to them.

    These examples are called Platonic forms; they are abstract entities that exist independently of the sensible world. The forms are split into the Realm of ordinary reality, which encompasses the changing world of senses and the intelligible realm, which consists of mathematical thought, dialect and understanding. Plato argued that all of the information we acquire about sensible objects (like knowing the weather or temperature) is temporary and unreliable, while genuine knowledge of the Forms themselves (like knowing that 10- 6=4) is certain forever. Per contra to Plato?s beliefs, Aristotle was an empiricist and had his own theory. Instead of splitting the world into two separate realms, Aristotle divides objects into two parts or aspects: form and matter.

    • Word count: 965
  14. Platos theory of Forms tells us nothing of importance. Discuss.

    In my opinion Plato?s theory of Forms does not tell us anything of importance ad there are many reasons to why I think this. The main reason is because there is no evidence for his theory, the only way to access the World of Forms is intellectually and so you can only gain evidence if you access it yourself. Even if Plato says he has been to the World of Forms there is no way he can prove that he has.

    • Word count: 803
  15. Explain Plato's Theory of Forms

    Beauty is also limited, for example, a rose might have a beautiful shape but the colour may be ugly. This can also apply to things like large and small, a cat may be large compared to a mouse but compared to a lion it is small; therefore it is not definitely small or large. Plato says that there must be something that is definitely small, large or beautiful and so he proposes the idea of Forms. Forms are basically the idea of what a thing is and these Forms are uncreated, universal, perfect, permanent, eternal, non-material and unchanging originals of the world of Particulars.

    • Word count: 926
  16. Explain the cosmological argument for the existence of God from Aquinas and Copleston (25 marks)

    It was based on the observations of cause and effect that we see in the world. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th Century philosopher used his 3 ways argue for the cosmological argument. His three ways were motion, causation and contingency. Frederick Copleston developed and explained his view of the cosmological argument in a radio broadcast in the 1940s by using 4 steps. The first of Aquinas? 3 ways was the observation of motion in the world. He said that everything in the universe is constantly moving from one state to another.

    • Word count: 491
  17. Explain the difference between Bentham and Mills forms of utilitarianism

    Mill was concerned with the ?sadistic guards? problem where two or more guards getting pleasure from attacking a prisoner obviously wouldn?t be right. He thought that a sadist?s pleasure is bodily and low so it does not outweigh the prisoner?s pain. Mill and Bentham believed different things about utility. Bentham prioritised the number of individuals and the amount of pleasure. Whereas Mill prioritised each individual and the quality of the pleasure.

    • Word count: 641
  18. Explain Platos Concept of Forms (25 marks)

    Plato?s view was that we cannot gain knowledge through the experiences we have through our senses. This is because the world is constantly changing and so our senses cannot be trusted. He said that true knowledge is innate- gained through the mind rather than the senses. Innate knowledge is something we have from birth e.g. we know that 1 plus 1 equals 2. Plato was also a dualist. This means he believed that the body and soul exist separately. The body is temporary and the soul has always existed.

    • Word count: 511
  19. Explain Aristotles theory of the Four Causes (25 marks)

    These four types are usually referred to as the ?Four Causes?. These include the material cause, the efficient cause, the formal cause and the final cause. In order to explain the four causes in this essay, I will be using a book as a simple example. Firstly Aristotle says that each object has a material cause. The material cause it the physical material or matter that the object is made from. For example, the matter that a book is made from is paper and ink, this is its material cause. In addition to this, Aristotle said that all material has potential for change.

    • Word count: 612
  20. Explain Kants Categorical Imperative (25 marks)

    Through this, Kant argued that we would be able to know which actions are moral, and which are not. The first categorical imperative, the universalisation of actions is known as the formula of the law of nature. Kant says ?act as if the maxim of your action was to become through your will a universal law of nature?. In other words before you act, ask yourself whether you would like everyone in the same situation to act in the same way.

    • Word count: 772
  21. Explain two versions of the ontological argument for the existence of God

    In this context 'greater' is synonymous with 'perfect' and conceived refers to anything that can be thought of. As a consequence of defining God in this way, Anselm argued that in order to refute this statement God must be thought of. He referenced Psalm 14 which reads 'The fool in his heart says 'there is no God'. For someone to argue that an entity doesn't exist, they must have a concept of that entity otherwise there would be nothing to refute. As the definition states God must be perfect, and existence is a perfection which an entirely perfect entity must possess, then God must have the perfection of existence.

    • Word count: 515
  22. Examine two theories on the nature of faith

    He posited three criteria for making a faith decision, with all three needed for an option to be genuine. The first was that it had to be momentous, meaning that it is significant enough to actually matter so that it has the potential to have a significant impact on life. For example, choosing between two different movies to watch would not have the same impact on a person?s life so consequently wouldn?t be momentous. James? second option outlines that a decision has to be forced meaning that there must be two distinct options so that suspension of judgement isn?t possible.

    • Word count: 690
  23. Explain why the teleological argument attempts to prove the existence of God.

    There must be a mind directing non-thinking things to their goals. In this example it is the archer. However, the question arises, who is the ultimate mind, directing all things? Aquinas calls this mind, God. Even though human beings are thinking beings and can direct themselves towards goals, the cause of existence of human beings, still needs to be explained as we are not immortal and we eventually die. William Paley who was born 1743-1805, supported the teleological argument and came up with the watch analogy.

    • Word count: 875
  24. Explain Kants Moral argument for the existence of God [Part A question]

    What Kant means by this is, we all have objective moral laws, and these are known through internal reasoning (our own opinions and our own experiences) and external reasoning (others influence and most importantly, God?s influence). However in this quote Kant is actually referring God to a concept and not a physical being that influences you. Kant says that existence is not a predicate of God. Kant is known for his coin analogy. Essentially this analogy claims that 100 coins in your hand in comparison to picturing 100 coins in your hand BOTH have the same value: neither is greater.

    • Word count: 731

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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