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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  1. Do humans have innate knowledge?

    This can be understand using the analogy of a building. Think of a building and the foundations of which it is built on, if the foundations are damaged or structurally weak then the safety of the building is at risk. This can be compared to a person?s knowledge. The building itself represents a person?s knowledge which is based on the senses as foundations. The only way that the building can be safe is if the foundations are impossible to doubt which Descartes argues they are not.

    • Word count: 1408
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Explain Paleys argument for the existence of God (25 Marks) The universe has no purpose (10 Marks)

    In Paley?s case, it was the watch. Paley?s teleological argument aims to show that the universe must have been created for a purpose, for example: the purpose of a seed is to grow into a flower. Therefore, the Teleological Argument based on the design qua regularity and the design qua purpose ideas, suggests that the universe is so complicated that it can't have been created by mistake surely something must have created and designed the universe. Paley argued that the natural world was full of apparent examples of design.

    • Word count: 1125
  11. Discuss the study of Religious Language

    He argued that univocal language couldn?t be used to speak about god, as univocal language is language where a word has exactly the same meaning at all times. When talking about god however, this anthropomorphizes him, as human language cannot be used to describe god as he is beyond human understanding. Aquinas argued ?no name belongs to God in the same sense as it belongs to humans;? Aquinas also argued that we couldn?t use equivocal language to describe God. Equivocal language is language where the same word has different meanings.

    • Word count: 1709
  12. Knowledge of God and/or ourselves can be transformed by religious experience Examine and comment on the importance of this claim for understanding ourselves and/or God with reference to the topic you have investigated.

    He argues that RE are psychological phenomena that occur in the brain but they may have a supernatural element. He argues that RE are emotional reactions, which is directed by God however they are too subjective for those who have not experienced them. He therefore argues that RE gives us knowledge about God and ourselves. As it shows the psychological and emotional aspects of RE in ourselves but they are directed by God which gives us further insight into him. James collected empirical evidence and found 4 common themes of RE. He argued all RE were: Passive, acting upon the person; transient, not sustained but passes; ineffable, beyond description; and noetic, giving a deep knowledge as directed by God.

    • Word count: 1739
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. Evaluate the claim that the soul is distinct from the body:

    Secondly, is his argument of opposites, this suggests that because we live in a world of opposites (night/day, light/dark, big/small and so on) that there must also be an opposite of death. Then, for there to be a death, there must be something that lives on, so that there is a distinction between the two. Peter Geach rejects Plato's distinction as he questions how the soul is able to have knowledge of the forms when the body gives the soul its sight and senses.

    • Word count: 1560
  18. Outline the key features of The Problem of Evil and two solutions

    The Problem of Evil is an emotive topic and this can influence our response. Historical tragedies, such as the Holocaust, make theists question their religion, as the intensity of suffering is often too strong to cope with. The Augustinian Theodicy offers a solution to The Problem of Evil. Plato influenced St Augustine of Hippo. He argued that evil was not a separate force over and above goodness. Instead he described evil as a privation of good that God did not create. Rather, God gave humankind free will, which allowed people the choice to choose evil. Another part of the theodicy is that natural evil is the loss of order in nature caused by sin.

    • Word count: 1135
  19. Examine the key ideas of Utilitarianism and to what extent are the strengths outweighed by the weaknesses?

    Some of the principles of the calculus are duration, extent, purity, fecundity and propinquity. Duration is how long the pain or pleasure lasts, extent is how far it reaches, purity is whether or not it is accompanied by pain, fecundity is how far into the future and propinquity is the remoteness of the pain or pleasure. As Bentham stated ?Push-pin is as good as poetry? as in the early version of Utilitarianism, all pleasure is equal. As time progressed John Stuart Mill decided to change some of the main aspects of Utilitarianism after a breakdown at age 20.

    • Word count: 902

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