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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

    Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the design argument for the existence of God.

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    * P2: Order, beauty, and complex do not arise by blind chance. * P3: We can look at the world and see that there is order, beauty and complexity in it, which work well to perform a function. This is a close resemblance to human inventions. * P4: Therefore the natural world, like machines, must have been created by an intelligent being * Conclusion: God is an intelligent being, therefore God exists. In the middle ages, design arguments were used by Thomas Aquinas in his 'Five Ways', which were five ways of demonstrating the existence of God through inductive argument, based on observation and evidence (a posteriori).

    • Word count: 1731
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Theories of the resurrection of the body are logically coherent.

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    For instance, the example of Jesus' resurrection fits exactly the category. The body is destroyed and then resurrected exactly to how it was prior death. According to the doctrine of the resurrection the body is a necessary element to ensure life after death. However, if we were dualists we would argue that we are not merely made of material substance; we are not merely a 'body'. Plato argued that we have a soul that constitute our spiritual -self (including our spiritual experiences, such as thinking and acquiring self-knowledge).

    • Word count: 1269
  3. Marked by a teacher

    The design argument is also known as the teleological argument. The argument looks at the idea of purpose and order within the universe to argue for the existence of God.

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    and therefore it's not reasonable to assume that the watch came about without the agency of a watchmaker. Paley's analogy compared the watch with the universe, arguing that it is equally unreasonable to suggest that universe, with all its intricacies, came about without the agency of a world-maker. Paley proposed that this world-maker is God. This argument has also been applied to other comparisons between nature and manufactured items. Such as the human eye and an auto-focus camera. The basis of Paley's argument is that there is evidence of design in the universe around us. Everything appears to have been designed to fulfil some function.

    • Word count: 1445
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Situation ethics

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    to decide what's best and what action has the best outcome which is in some ways more demanding for the person as this will make us stronger emotionally and spiritually closer to God than any conformist could ever be. Fletcher has some basic principles that are the basis of his beliefs. He says that love alone is intrinsically good and that it should be the sole guide of more decisions and actions, which is the opposite of Utilitarianism. He also says that love and justice are the same as justice is love distributed to the community and nothing else.

    • Word count: 1538
  5. Marked by a teacher

    The strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism

    Bentham being a hedonist believed that all humans naturally pursued pleasure and conversely avoids pain. To measure this pain and pleasure, Bentham created the 'hedonic calculus' which weighs up the pleasure and pain which might arise from moral actions to decide the best option. The formula should determine which act has the best tendency and therefore right. He measured happiness with seven different elements including; Intensity and duration; certainty and uncertainty. John Stuart Mill was concerned that Bentham's theory was limited to a certain extent that law was the primarily concern. So he introduced a theory of utility for the common person which also substituted 'pleasure' for 'happiness' and moved from mere quantity to evoking the quality of happiness as well.

    • Word count: 1049
  6. Explain Aquinas cosmological argument for the existence of God. Humes criticisms alone completely discredit the cosmological argument Discuss.

    a cup of coffee being potentially hot when it is actually hot, and as another example, wood has the potential to be made into something or to be burnt. Aquinas said all change is caused by something, "It is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God". Here Aquinas means that nothing can move of its own accord therefore there has to be a prime mover and that must be God.

    • Word count: 1340
  7. Assess the view that what makes an action moral is that it is motivated by a sense of duty.

    He believed that there were certain categorical imperatives such as "I must not kill" or "it is wrong to steal" by which we must always abide (these are not to be confused with hypothetical imperatives such as "if I behave this year, i will get Christmas presents" which do not express duty, but a self-interested action.) He believed that by acting according to these duties, rather than following our emotional desires, we were being truly moral. This is demonstrated in his example of the shopkeeper, in which it is his duty to sell items to everybody at the same price,

    • Word count: 1156
  8. We have consented to be governed so we are obliged to obey the government Discuss this statement.

    This is because we have become used to living in a controlled country and any change would result in major upset around the world. I think this is the best way to live because it keeps everyone under a certain aspect of control to make sure people do not become out of hand but it does not lead to anyone being 'chained' to the government. This reason may be criticised because some people believe that they have not consented to be governed therefore they do not have to obey the law.

    • Word count: 1057
  9. I might believe that an action is morally right, but this does not give me a motive to perform it. Discuss. (30)

    claim that it is in our best interest to steal as it enables us to have anything whenever we want, but then it could be said that it is in our interest not to steal (therefore conforming with moral rules) so we do not go to prison if we are caught. As an illustration in relation to being virtuous, imagine a soldier on the front line who gives his life in order to save others - although this would be seen by the majority of people as a good or 'virtuous' action, it does not help him to be happy or flourish.

    • Word count: 1396
  10. How convincing is the claim that 'because art is informative, we value it'? (30)

    He then however goes on to say that this is evidence that art can be and is a bad influence on us - and in an ideal society we should focus on the (Realm of the) Forms, which consists of the perfect 'Form' of everything. Plato says that art can distract us by imitating something that is itself already an imitation of its Form equivalent. As an example, Plato would say that Andrea Pozzo's painted ceiling in the Church of St.

    • Word count: 1155
  11. 'It pays to be moral.' Discuss. (30)

    Egoists say we should only do something if it benefits us, not because it is right or good. As an example, I should help an old lady to cross the road, if and only if, it is in my self-interest to do so (such as getting paid or to make me feel good), not because it is seen as the right thing to do. Egoism can be separated into ethical egoism which is a statement of value: that we ought to maximise our own good, and psychological egoism, which is a statement of fact about human motives and nature - that we cannot do anything other than act in our own self-interest.

    • Word count: 1673
  12. Assess the view that conscience is not the voice of God, but is learned?

    They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts'. This is the basis of traditional Christian teaching, it holds that everyone knows what is right or wrong without being told so, this is due to the fact that God has given us the ability to do so. Aquinas also believed that the conscience was God given, he believed that people would instinctively choose to avoid bad actions and do good, he called this the Synderesis rule (Greek for conscience)

    • Word count: 1616
  13. We do not possess any genuine freedom to act ethically Discuss

    This argument then, to a certain extent removes the idea of God, in that it is saying we can choose to do whatever we wish, it can however, be argued that God chose to give us Free Will and it is a way in which he will judge us by looking at the way in which we live our life on earth. The idea that God will judge us according to how we live our lives and what options we freely choose, is to a certain extent the idea of social-conditioning.

    • Word count: 1453
  14. Explain the problem of evil (25 marks). Are the theodicies attempts to deal with moral and natural evil and suffering doomed, in the face of so much evil and suffering?

    The logical problem of evil is defined by Epicurus "If he is willing and is unable, he is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God, if he is able and unwilling, he is envious... if he is neither willing nor able, he is both envious and feeble...if he is both willing and able... from what source then are evils? Or why does he not remove them?" here Epicurus explores the problem of the inconsistent triad which is as follows : 1)God is omniscient, omnipotent and wholly good, 2)there is evil in the world , 3)a being who is holy good will eliminate evil as far as it can.

    • Word count: 1555
  15. Assess the claim 'Our lives are determined'

    This means that the physical world is determined by causality, for example there is water on the floor because a water pipe had burst, but our choices remain causally undetermined since our mind is not a part of the physical world. Naturally I disagree with the fact that everything in the physical world is determined by causality and it does not take into consideration the effect of the choices humans make in the world. In contrast to determinism, fatalism holds the view that our lives are already planned out and there is nothing we can do to change that.

    • Word count: 1419
  16. Assess the claim that we can have synthetic a priori knowledge

    I will be arguing that we can have synthetic a priori knowledge; however to do this I must consider the claims of the likes of Descartes, Bacon and Galileo in contrast to the claims of Locke, Hume, Leibniz. I will also explore Kant's conceptual schemes and metaphysics in an attempt to help settle the debate that we can have synthetic a priori knowledge. Rationalism As a rationalist, you believe that knowledge is a priori; it is independent of experience and can be derived from reason and intellect.

    • Word count: 1421
  17. Explain the cosmological argument for existence of God

    His first argument was the "Unmoved mover" argument. The argument is concerned with things which change. Everything that is in motion is moved by something else, infinite regress is impossible; therefore there must be a first mover. The movement, to which Aquinas is referring, is the movement from one state to another, from potentiality to actuality. This is not an argument relating to the beginning of the universe; rather it relates to the way everything depends on something else for the changes to occur. For Aquinas, the changes that occur from moment to moment depend on the first mover (i.e.

    • Word count: 1838
  18. St Thomas Aquinas and the Cosmological Argument

    He argued we need to argue to G-d from evidence that we find in the world. This is quite an Aristotelian concept. * UNMOVED MOVER: - Argument from motion (change). This is the first argument...some things in the world are in motion, whatever is moved, is moved by another and another and so on. It is impossible in the same way a thing could be both mover and moved. Whatever is moved is moved by another in a chain of movable objects.

    • Word count: 1680
  19. Our freedom to make ethical choices is an illusion Discuss

    The doctrine of predestination was formulated by such theologians as Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin. They would also agree with the statement and we have no free will. John Calvin developed Christian predestination idea into Calvinism. This belief says that as man is a complete sinner who is incapable of coming to God, and has a sinful free will that is only capable of rejecting God. God is in total control and people cannot do anything to achieve salvation. Calvinism suggests that people have no free will as far as ethical decisions. God simply decides who will be saved because he can, and all the rest will go to Hell.

    • Word count: 1964
  20. Analyze the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument

    Fifthly states that it is inconceivable that God doesn't exist and lastly therefore God exists. Anselm set out to show that not believing in God is an absurd position to hold. . It is better to exist in the mind and in reality than to just exist in the mind .Existence is a predicate of perfection. Therefore God must exist in reality. "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14) despite accepting the argument - if you understand the definition of God, you can't deny that God exists.Anselm stated that even an atheist must have a definition of God because even the suggestion that God does not exist requires the concept of God.

    • Word count: 1842
  21. Explain Plato's analogy of the cave.

    The analogy tells of how there are prisoners chained in a cave, bound in chains so they may only face the wall in front of them, with the only light coming from a fire far behind them. In front of the flames lies a wall, and like a 'Punch and Judy' show, puppets or statues held by others are carried back and forth across this wall, interacting and thus creating shadows on the wall in front of the prisoners. These shadows are all the prisoners see, and the voices of the puppet show echoing around the cave are all they hear.

    • Word count: 1157
  22. How convincing is the view that we are born with at some innate knowledge?

    Inevitably, if Locke's assumption is correct, it is highly unlikely that we possess innate knowledge. Locke dismissed the rationalists view of 'innate knowledge' and subsequently went on to claim that knowledge can only come from our senses, reflecting our senses and combining simple ideas. Locke's claim appears well constructed. However, the emphasis placed on our senses may well be misguided. As, the potential to gain knowledge via combining ideas appear far-fetched, due to it being virtually impossible to define a 'simple idea'. Hume would argue that our sense impression will have clarity and be coherent if it's an accurate experience.

    • Word count: 1219
  23. Assess whether 'God exists' is a testable hypothesis.

    William Paley's 'watchmaker analogy' is instrumental in the argument for the claim that God's existence is a testable hypothesis. Paley's analogy consists of a watch, which possesses parts, which ultimately fulfils a purpose. Paley's bold claims are plausible, as he likens the watch to the universe. Evidently, a watch's sole purpose is to tell the time. Therefore, there must be a watchmaker. This links together with the human analogy, which implies that human beings must have a creator, who is in this case God.

    • Word count: 1611
  24. The religious experience argument is the most convincing proof for the existence of God. How far do you agree with this statement?

    The first public event is an experience which can be seen by everyone. It is not particularly extraordinary; however it can be interpreted as so by various individuals. A second public event is one which can be seen to be breaking natural law. An example of such is when 70,000 saw the 'sun dance' in the sky on October 13th 1917 in Fatima, Portugal. The second category - private events contain three main points. One example of a private event is one which can be described in normal language. Another is one which cannot be described in normal language, also known as ineffability.

    • Word count: 1613
  25. Outline the Ontological argument for the existence of God. Comment on the claim that the strengths outweigh the weaknesses.

    which would make Him most excellent. Anselm then goes on to ask: 'is it greater for something to exist in mind and reality of mind alone?' If we apply this characteristic to a situation it is easy to see that it is far better for something to essentially exist in comparison to being a mere pigment of imagination. Therefore, if we combine the two points made so far: 'God is that of which nothing greater can be conceived' and 'it is better to exist in mind and reality than mind alone.'

    • Word count: 1513

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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