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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  1. Utilitarianism is a useful method of making moral decisions. Discuss.

    Moreover, considering the results seems warmer and personal, as deontological arguments can be cold and rigid (e.g. stealing bread to feed starving children). This makes it more useful because it allows people's gut morality to be used more than being too legalistic. However, consequences can be very hard to predict, so often good intentions can result in a bad result. As we cannot tell the future, this kind of ethics is flawed as people who are especially bad at predicting the results of actions will end up making many mistakes, possibly causing lots of damage in society.

    • Word count: 431
  2. Explain the main differences between Act and Rule Utilitarianism

    Jeremy Bentham, and his disciple John Stuart Mill have become recognised as the two greatest sponsors of Utilitarianism. Bentham is known for his popularisation of the more traditional version of the theory, known as Act Utilitarianism. Although a student of Bentham, Mill could see problems in what he was being taught and so began to develop his own views in his own version called Rule Utilitarianism. Bentham's main philosophy of Act Utilitarianism is to create the "greatest good for the greatest number".

    • Word count: 770
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. '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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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

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