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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 13
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  1. In what ways may suffering create philosophical problems for religious believers? Outline two solutions to these problems.

    Another reason which disproves God is Natural and Moral evil in the world. Christians believe that God made a perfect world in Genesis, but philosophers have said that if there is an evil in the form of natural and moral ways, then surely, God has not created that "perfect world" then. Natural evil is simply suffering/evil that has been caused my nature, such as an earthquake killing 1000's of people; if God was all loving, surely he wouldn't allow this to happen, and to make matters worse he would have the power to stop it, why doesn't he?

    • Word count: 2475
  2. The verification principle offers no real challenge to religious belief. Discuss

    Swinburne gives the example "all ravens are black", He points out that while people generally accept ravens are black, there is always the possibility of a raven that is not black, therefore according to verifcationism the statement is meaningless. Furthermore for early verificationsists is that no statement can be made about history. If I say that the battle of Hastings occurred in 1066, there is not way in which to verify this fact by observation. Therefore it is factually meaningless according to verifcationism.

    • Word count: 2202
  3. How to create a completely peaceful world. To create a fully peaceful world, both Federalism and non-violent resistance are necessary. Federalism and non-violent resistance can cooperate well to completely eliminate war in the world.

    The reason comes from Hobbes' human nature theory. Hobbes believes that human nature is the drive for gain, safety and reputation (Hobbes 30). The drive cause conflicts between human beings. Moreover, "for as to the strength of body, the weakest has the strength to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with others, that are in the same danger with himself" (Hobbes 29). Thus, without a powerful government, the human society will inevitably be in war, and "such a war, as is of every man against every man."

    • Word count: 2014
  4. `I know God exists, because I have an idea of perfection Discuss whether knowledge can be gained without using sense experience

    Experience can be split into two categories -raw sensory perceptions, and emotional experiences. Overall I do not agree with this view largely because very few empiricists would also accept this view as I believe there is at least some knowledge which does not come from sense experience, although the value it holds may be very small. That is not to say there is not a favourable argument that at least the majority of what we do know does in fact come from sense experience. The issue here is that it is difficult to envisage, how concepts, such as truth and pain can be reduced to simple ideas.

    • Word count: 2008
  5. Examine the contributions that two of the following may make to a study of religious language

    There are three senses in to which the word myth can be incorporated into religious language and texts. The myths could be a story which is not true but has some other value, Braithwaite argued that religious stories are inspirational to us, and they also provide us with the motivation to lead a moral life. The myth could also be a method of interpreting ultimate reality. So myths have a symbolic meaning in the sense that they open up new levels of reality or their purpose could be too bind communities together and to urge us to take action.

    • Word count: 2054
  6. Augustine on creation and Aquinas on the existence of God.

    Augustine continues the debate on time, by calling its very existence into question. Augustine questions the commonly accepted notion of time by providing his theory of "presentism," which basically reduces time into only the present tense. Augustine claims that when people talk in terms of the past, present, and future they're only really talking about various forms of the present. Augustine tries to explain the various complications that arise when trying to determine the duration of present time. It is difficult to compare two different measurements of time if each period of "present" time given can be reduced into a minute instance of time that quickly disappears.

    • Word count: 2029
  7. Evaluate Descartes Method of Doubt

    He resolves to not just give up on things which he can prove to be false, but to discard on principle everything which he can doubt in any minor way. In this way his doubt can clearly be seen as hyperbolic. By attacking all knowledge, Descartes claims he involves himself in a process called 'global scepticism' where he doubts everything to discover the axioms (truths which are self evident) which an understanding of the world can be built upon. It can however be doubted as to what extent Descartes' doubt is truly global, an issue I will examine when I begin my analysis of Meditation one.

    • Word count: 2032
  8. Discuss the suggestion that it is pointless to analyse religious experience

    Christian mysticism, which is an off-shoot of the more general mysticism which exists in all of the institutionalised religions, believes that although God converses and is personally involved with all humanity, it is only through mystical religious experience that God's message can truly be encountered. With this regard, if what they claim has any shred of truth to it, then it would not only be meaningful to analyse religious experience, but necessary, as the supreme creator is conversing his 'wishes' and 'commands' directly to the human psyche.

    • Word count: 2466
  9. Science Solves All The Problems About Where We Come From Discuss

    Fundamentalist Christians had feeble replies to these findings, showing the limits to which their faith was being tested. Darwin's theory is also, now, widely accepted by nearly all scientists and many theists as being the truth of the origins of humanity through a purely scientific method of research. A philosopher who whole-heartedly supported Darwin's theory with no room for doubt was Richard Dawkins. In his book, "The Greatest Show on Earth", he claims that although almost 40% of Americans who don't believe in evolution, believe that it was created in the last 10,000 years or so, as it is stated in the Bible.

    • Word count: 2387
  10. Analyse the key strengths for the arguments of the existence of God based on Religious Experience. Evaluate the view that the weaknesses leads to its rejection

    and regenerative experiences (conversion experience). There does however, seem to be some common themes, for example, inner peace, certainty that things will work out for the good, sense of need to help others and great emotional intensity. Many philosophers move from the idea of religious experience to the existence of God due to these being his work in the world, the complexities of this argument will be more clearly examined in the next paragraph. Clearly from all the different categories, the subject of religious experience is a diverse and subjective one, to what extents do the weaknesses of this argument lead to its rejection?

    • Word count: 2067
  11. Conscience is the voice of God - discuss

    Effectively, Jerome and Augustine thought our conscience is God-given, and thus both face similar difficulties as Divine Command theory. Arguably, Augustine and Jerome believe the capability of reason to be far greater than it really is. The Aristotelian line of thought differs from Plato's in a subtle but important way, that although reason is innate and universal, it needs to be used to arrive at an understanding of right and wrong. Augustine doesn't 'use' reason; he views knowledge of right and wrong as intuitive and automatic, which is problematic.

    • Word count: 2744
  12. The idea of miracles is a major obstacle to faith in the modern world - discuss

    Historian Ian Wilson comments, "That Jesus performed deeds that men called 'miracles,' is...one of the best attested items of information about him". The Bible contains many accounts of miracles performed by Jesus, but that does not mean to say that the miracles were supernatural - some claim that Jesus did not walk on water, but rather on a sandbar just below the surface. Wilson suggests that hypnosis could provide the explanation for a good deal of Jesus' miracles, however, events such as the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew's gospel could not be explained by hypnosis.

    • Word count: 2366
  13. An embodied life in heaven is entirely possible. Discuss.

    In the Old Testament souls gathered in Sheol. In the New Testament several passages teach that souls await the final return of Jesus when the dead will be resurrected to challenge judgement. Embodied Existence - This is the belief that after death the soul is given a new body and lives in the spiritual dimension. In Christianity this is the belief that after death the righteous go to heaven whilst the unrighteous go to hell. Islam has no teaching about reincarnation and teaches that after death there will be a Day of Judgement.

    • Word count: 2513
  14. The Goodness of God

    The Jews liked order as chaos was seen to be evil. In the Seven Day Creation story God's goodness holds the forces of evil at bay. Each act of creation is seen to be good. "And he saw that it was good" (Genesis 1: 10). The end result of God's creation was the Earth and mankind. Everything created was made for mankind to take stewardship upon, and nothing existed purely out of coincidence. So not only is God morally good and requires humans to be good, but God's creation is also good.

    • Word count: 2334
  15. Examine the main strengths and weakness of the Cosmological argument for the existence of God. Consider the view that the weaknesses are more convincing than the strengths.

    Copleston took the argument and reformulated it as three premises, all of which follow each other in logical steps. His first premise states that some things exist that do not have a reason to exist, for example humans. His second premise steps up from the first in saying that the world consists largely of these objects, and his third premise goes on to say that the explanation of these must lie outside the universe. This ability to tackle the explanation of the existence of God and the universe in a rational way indeed adds to its plausibility. The Cosmological argument denies the idea of infinite regress, adding again to its believability.

    • Word count: 2130
  16. Assess whether religious experience demonstrates the existence of God?

    Finally there are also mystical experience as William James explained them these are ineffable (cannot be put into words) transient (very intense experience but not necessarily a long experience, the effects however can last a lifetime) passive (cannot be controlled by the recipient) experiences that are simply indescribable. Rudolf Otto described mystical experiences as "numinous" this is the feeling of awe and wonder when confronted with the divinity that is God numinous experiences are one of terrifying and compelling mystery. Should religious experiences be the basis of God's existence or are they simply anomalous events that are meaningless. David Hume and A.J.

    • Word count: 2189
  17. Outline the teleological proof of the existence of God

    There are two main examples of design put forward by William Paley and Thomas Aquinas. There are several versions of the design argument and maybe the most re-noun is the idea that Paley gives us about the watch with the use of analogy. Paley was a bishop who one day stumbled across a stone and then across a pocket watch whilst walking in a heath. This was around the time when pocket watches were first introduced and Paley had a fascination of how all of the cogs and bolts and tiny screws all intertwined into one to make the watch tick, he thought of the beauty and sophistication of the watch and that these traits must be a reflection of the maker, designer.

    • Word count: 2100
  18. Evaluate plato and aristotle on well being

    loss of reputation; when sentenced to death Socrates had the chance to escape and go and live in another place but he refused to because it would be wrong to obey the laws of the land only when they suited you, so he stayed and was killed. For Plato this is not only the right thing to do but he would go as far to say that he would be happier dying virtuous than living having broken the law. Although I think this should not be taken as he enjoyed his actual death rather there was a certain content dignified

    • Word count: 2662
  19. problem of evil

    It is the result of a human action which is morally wrong, such as murder or war. Natural evil is the result of apparent malfunctioning in the natural world, it is according to John Hick 'the evil that originates independently of human actions. It is in disease, in bacilli, in earthquakes, in storms, and in droughts.' The fact that evil, or suffering is an undeniable factor in our lives presents an array of problems in today's world where there is a strong belief by many of a higher power which should in theory, be able to eradicate it from the world or in fact never have let it come to exist in the first place.

    • Word count: 2114
  20. moral argument

    Despite cultural differences, humans worldwide have a vague idea of what is right or wrong, which is more or less continuous spatially and temporally. In the appendix of C.S. Lewis' book The Abolition of Man, he lists various virtues that have been accepted across the ages and civilisations (Greek, Egyptian, Babylonian, Native American, Indian, Hebrew, etc.). Stealing and murder are condemned in these law codes, while honouring parents and keeping marriage vows are applauded. A moral argument for the existence of God would say that this mutual understanding is proof of God's existence.

    • Word count: 2090
  21. "Religious Language is meaningless." Discuss.

    To explain this theory, he came up with a parable. "In a garden, two men are arguing. There are beautiful flowers, however, there are also weeds. One man believed that there must have been a gardener to tend the flowers. The other man disagrees, as there are also weeds. The two men set up traps to try and prove or disprove the gardener's existence." Flew's conclusion of the parable is that the belief will not change his conviction. He stated that any religious belief or statement is meaningless because they have no evidence against them, and therefore they cannot be falsified.

    • Word count: 2908
  22. Assess What Can Be Concluded From The Teleological Argument

    However he then compares this to a watch which clearly has intricate parts and cannot have occurred. Despite having never met a watch maker he is aware that one must exist, for the watch is far to complex to have just happened and its purpose is great so it must have been designed and crafted to fulfill that purpose. The apparent order and design manifested within the watch are key to his argument due to the concepts which they represent.

    • Word count: 2566
  23. Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is an unfair system of ethics which could not work in the twentieth century. Discuss.

    being followed by sensations of the a similar kind), its purity (or the chance of it has not being followed by, sensations of the opposite kind) and its extent (that is, the number of people who affected by it). A distinction can be drawn between two versions of utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism, more closely associated with Bentham, and rule utilitarianism, associated with Mill. Act utilitarians maintain that , wherever possible, there principle of utility must be directly applies for each individual situation.

    • Word count: 2441
  24. The Rebirth of Dialogue: Bakhtin, Socrates, and the Rhetorical Tradition by James P. Zappen. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2004. 229 + viii pp.

    Zappen's rhetorical task in this study is formidable. He must explain two very different bodies of work for two nearly exclusive sets of scholars. Zappen devotes the first three chapters of his book to this task. In his "Introduction" (1-15), he provides an overview of the problem and of his book. He next surveys the literature on Socrates and Plato in "The Traditional Socrates: Dialogue, Rhetoric, and Dialectic" (17-36). And then he reviews the life, thought, and interpretation of Bakhtin in "Mikhail M. Bakhtin, Dialogical Rhetoric, and the Socratic Dialogue" (3 Reviewing these chapters from the standpoint of a Plato scholar, I can say that Zappen translates Bakhtin's work into terms that are intelligible to me and applicable to the texts I study.

    • Word count: 2423
  25. The Ontological Argument - Critique

    conceived, is to admit that God must exist to avoid contradiction: that is to say, for God to truly be that than which no greater can be conceived, he must exist in reality as well as in our understanding - as Anselm himself put it, "Thus if that than which a greater cannot be conceived is in the understanding alone, then that than which a greater cannot be conceived is itself that than which a greater can be conceived. But surely this cannot be."

    • Word count: 2637

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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