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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Explain the theodicy of Irenaeus. Irenaeus theodicy is the response to the problem of evil, which like Augustines traces back to the idea of humans free will being the source of evil.

    We have been made in the image of God with the potential to be like God. If we were just made to be perfect it would mean nothing to God. However, if we prove to God by the choice of free will it will show God we really care as we are choosing to do good. To back up this point Irenaeus uses the example of a mother not being able to give a child 'substantial nourishment' or solid food. This meaning, just as a young infant can't take solid foods and therefore is given milk as they are immature, humans could not receive fully formed goodness, as they were spiritually immature and so are given free will to develop their own goodness.

    • Word count: 824
  6. Explain the difference between Act and rule utilitarianism

    The out come must bring out the 'Greatest good for the greatest number.' Thus cannot be for one person alone as an act utililitarianist aim to bring out the maximum amount of good and least amount of pain. For example in act utilitarianism a group of people may be on there way to the cinema, however may come across a lady asking to give money for charity, according to act utilitarianism the people would therefore have to give up there cinema money and give it to charity instead, this is done because it would cause the maximum amount of good,

    • Word count: 956
  7. To what extent is god's omnipotence a logically coherant concept

    any matter and so can't run does this mean that we are better than god by being able to do something that he can't and therefore he isn't omnipotent. The omnipotence of god and the paradoxes it creates were attempted to be solved by Rene Descartes he theorised that god is completely omnipotent and there is nothing that cannot do e.g. create a stone too big for him to lift. Descartes would then go on the say that although he has created a so called object that he cannot lift he would be able to lift because of his omnipotence no matter how logically impossible the instance.

    • Word count: 688
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. The body soul distinction is a myth derived from philosophers such as plato discuss.

    imprisoned in our bodies, and that we can only fully access it by dividing the soul from the body, he says to be a true philosopher, we should aim to gather our mind into itself where it is not disturbed by any pleasures nor pains, he believes that once the soul has as little as possible to do with the body, and has no bodily sense of feeling that is when a person can attain true truths, not misconstrued truths from inaccurate witnesses.

    • Word count: 578
  11. Religious responses to the verification principle have been largely unsuccessful. Evaluate this claim.

    In response to the falsification principle, R.M Hare criticised it with his theory of the 'blik', which is an individual's own personal opinion and meaningful statements. He says that you cannot falsify the blik because it holds meaning to the individual. Christians will think in their minds that God is good; this is their own thought so we cannot prove their 'blik' wrong. However, Flew replies to this criticism saying that this is not relevant and cannot be applied to religious language as it has not happened in real life, just in someone's mind.

    • Word count: 648
  12. 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
  13. Outline the ontological argument. The ontological argument is based on the idea that the very fact that we have a concept of God must mean that He exists.

    In Anselm's book Proslogion (Discourse on the existence of God,) Anselm defined God as 'that than which nothing greater can be thought' and from this Anselm developed the first part of his argument. It means that a being that cannot be improved upon and to think of a greater being must be God. Anselm supports the statement in Psalms that 'The fool has said in his heart "there is no God".' Anselm says that it is absurd that an atheist (fool)

    • Word count: 684
  14. Explain how Aquinass theory of Natural Law can be used to decide on the right course of action. (25 Marks)

    * Even without knowledge of God, reason can discover the laws that lead to human flourishing. * The Natural Laws are universal and unchangeable and should be used to judge the laws of particular societies. Like Aristotle, Aquinas concludes that humans aim for some goal or purpose, but does not see this as eudemonia which Aristotle saw as the final goal for humans (supreme happiness/good). Humans for Aquinas are above all made "in the image of god" and so the supreme good must be the development of this image i.e.

    • Word count: 718
  15. 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
  16. Is direct realism naive? Direct realism is mainly known as a starting point for theories of perception. They believe we perceive the objects directly.

    Direct realists disagree with this theory because they believe we perceive the object itself. This is what other realists would term as na�ve because they do not believe we experience physical objects just the way we see them, which in a sense is true but does not explain how we are able to view the representation of it without perceiving the object itself. Direct realism, I think, would not classify as na�ve because of the fact that our eye perceives the object to be real; we cannot doubt our sense, so therefore it is real.

    • Word count: 929
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. Explain the free will defence. Both the Augustinian and Irenaean theodicies contain the argument that moral evil is an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of human free will. This argument has however developed into a theodicy in its own right, known a

    A wholly good God is not one who operates like 'an over-protective parent who will not let his child out of sight for a moment', but one who allows his creatures the choice of doing evil. Swinburne argues that natural evil is necessary for humans to develop the knowledge of how to bring about evil. Swinburne also argues that death is essential; it means that the chances for doing good or evil that it contains are finite. If we had infinite chances, then we would never suffer the consequences of our wrong doing.

    • Word count: 804
  23. `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
  24. we do not possess any genuine freedom to act ethically

    Locke illustrated this point by describing a sleeping man locked in a room. The man is locked and has no free will over where to be. In waking up the man has the power to decide where he wants to be, however, not realising that the door is locked, he decides to stay inside anyway. This naturalistic view suggests that man is part of the mechanical universe. Man acts according to the natural laws, not against them, therefore, his actions are arguably also predictable. D'Holbach illustrated the point thus: "Man, who thinks himself free, is a fly who imagines he has the power to move the universe, while is himself unkowingly carried along by it."

    • Word count: 1211
  25. How fair is the claim that religious language is meaningless?

    Pseudo-Dionysius argued that the Via Negativa is the only way to talk truthfully and meaningfully about God. He believed saying what God is not is the only way to prove statements are meaningful, because God is beyond all human imagination and understanding. The main arguments against the Via Negativa relate to believers thoughts on the downfalls of describing God in negative ways. Strong Christians believers argue how it is useful to say what God is not. They only want to believe what God is so following the Via Negativa tells them nothing that they want to know.

    • Word count: 1232

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