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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  1. 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
  2. Explain Plato's analogy of the cave

    His original idea is that we are all 'imperfect' copies of the ultimate forms that theoretically represent the truth and reality. His theory begins by talking about prisoners, who have been chained all their life deep inside a cave, their heads are chained in one direction so that their gaze is fixed on a wall. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a wall, along which puppets of various animals, plants, and other things are played with by puppeteers. The puppets cast shadows on the wall, and the prisoners watch these shadows.

    • Word count: 1189
  3. Give an account of the design arguments from Aquinas and Paley.

    Aquinas in particular was the main driving force of the teleological argument before Paley. The argument forms the fifth of Aquinas' five ways. He looked at the universe qua regularity, in that he looked at design in relation to the order and regularity in the universe. Aquinas stated that everything worked to some purpose or other. Aquinas pointed towards inanimate objects such as the sea or the sun, which must have purpose. Aquinas believed that because these inanimate objects cannot have a mind of its own or any rational powers, they must have been directed to this purpose by some external power.

    • Word count: 739
  4. Mills comments about the problem of evil are fatal to the teleological argument.

    Mill believed that had the creator been all-loving then the suffering of humanity would not have been included in the design. As it is, then at least one of these three essential attributes must be missing. This argument on the problem of evil and suffering points potentially fatal flaws in both the teleological argument and the Christian concept of God in general. As Mill points towards the Problem of Evil and Suffering, the Christian perspective of this problem must be used.

    • Word count: 695
  5. Explain how Benthams version of Utilitarianism may be used to decide the right cause of action and the strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism

    Bentham truly believed that pleasure was the purest form of good and pain the sole evil; he saw this as moral fact. This is why Bentham is also known as a hedonist. The hedonists were a group of Greek people who sought to find true pleasure; 'hedone' means pleasure in Greek, this group included people such as Plato and Aristotle - who agreed that good was found in the greatest happiness. The principle of utility was a way to find out how good or bad an action was, based on its utility (usefulness).

    • Word count: 1398
  6. A) Explain what Aristotle meant by the final cause.

    So the efficient cause of a table would be the carpenter. The final cause if defined as the Telos or purpose of something. From these causes we are able to have full knowledge of something. Aristotle also believed how well something achieves its telos, is a measure of how good something is. So, if a bike fails to function, and cannot transport, it has not achieved its telos, thus, it is not good. He suggested that humans had the greatest potential of all things as part of their telos is to learn and understand the world, considering the form and purpose of the things in the world and themselves.

    • Word count: 927
  7. Explain The Difference Between Hypothetical And Categorical Imperatives

    As we do not have direct access to this, we must use something that everyone has access to: reason. Kantian ethics is, therefore, also a priori. Kant believed that there were two types of commands, or imperatives: hypothetical and categorical. A hypothetical imperative is a conditional command; If you want to achieve X, you must do Y. For example, in order to achieve trust from society, I ought to tell the truth. A hypothetical imperative would only apply to some people; it would only apply to those who would like to achieve Y, in this particular case, trust from society.

    • Word count: 872
  8. 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
  9. "Plato does not value experience enough" Discuss

    They could add that it would be absurd to suggest that experience in the physical world is meaningless, and would point towards how all scientific discoveries of the past, including Andres Vesalius' about human anatomy, Pasteur's about germs and Jenner's about Vaccination,all came about through sensory experience, and have since improved the quality and length of our lives, giving us more time to devote to what Plato would call "The Meaning of Life," understanding the Form of the Good. Therefore, it could be said that sensory experience is paramount in our efforts to discover the Good, and, it could be

    • Word count: 1410
  10. Critically assess the ontological argument

    Gaunilo criticised Anselm's argument on the basis that it is possible to define anything into existence, he used a lost 'perfect island' scenario to outline his point, if you were to imagine an island of pure perfection of which no other greater or more perfect island could be conceived then - based on Anselm's reasoning - this island must exist. This was rejected by Anselm as he stated that he was attempting to show that the existence of God was not like the existence of any other things, such as a perfect island.

    • Word count: 1038
  11. Critically assess the design argument

    He developed his watch analogy and decided that the world was similar to the watch, due to it being equally complex (but on a grander scale) and because it demonstrated similar harmonious order to the universe. His explanation brought him to the conclusion that the universe is like one big complex machine that must have been created by an infinite being. God - he argued - could be the only possible designer because he is perfect in every way. However, it is surely a massive assumption to assume the designer is God.

    • Word count: 1852
  12. Explain and illustrate the Illusion and the time-lag arguments for the existence of sense data (15)

    The third premise is that if something no longer exists, we cannot now perceive it, let alone directly perceive it. And so, assuming the distant star no longer exists, we cannot directly perceive it when its light reaches our eyes. But since we are perceiving something, the object of the (direct) perception must be something other than the distant star.

    • Word count: 544
  13. Explain Platos concept of the Forms. To what extent is it true to say that the forms teach us nothing about the physical world?

    fits and matches the Form of a chair then we will then proceed to identify it as and call it a chair. It, again though, is not as simple as it seems! Plato's concept of Forms suggests that all the Forms exist in a separate world to the physical world, called the world of the Forms. The world we live in and experience is called the world of appearances, whereas the world of the Forms can also be called the world of Reality.

    • Word count: 1161
  14. Could the self be an illusion?

    The "reality" that we live in may very well be a dream. We do not have the answers to these and many other questions, therefore we cannot be certain about the self and it's nature. If one thinks that they are certain about the self then they may very well be looking at an illusion. I believe the self is not the physical body but the mind and soul with in. Everybody has a different soul and hence a different self. During our lives we are constantly interacting with the world around us and it shapes and alters our true selves.

    • Word count: 792
  15. Evolution V teleological Argument

    Teleological believers argue that God was necessary has all ways been there and the universe is contingent. Philosopher William Paeley made analogy to the human systems and a watch. He describes the features of a watch to be of extreme complexity and sophistication argues that it could not have just been accidentally or by luck created therefore it must have hade a designer who created it. This is the same for a body part like the human eye features such as the iris, cornea, retina and pupil are very complex and unlikely to have evolved and just happened to have ended how they are by chance, therefore William Paeley enforces there must have been an intelligent designer who designed this and this must have been God.

    • Word count: 628
  16. Compare Two Deontological Theories

    This relates to Jesus' teaching to 'Do to others what you would have them do to you' (Matthew 7:12) and says humans should not use other humans to gain something for themselves, as we would not like to be treated in this way. The final categorical imperative is the 'Kingdom of Morals' which says that we should always act as though we were the legislators for the kingdom of morals - we are in charge of what is fair and just. Kant placed great faith on human beings as being able to work rationally to such a conclusion and act according to principles.

    • Word count: 1087
  17. Comment on the claim religious language can never be meaningful Answer this question with reference to the Verification principle and the Falsification principle, you may wish to include A.J.Ayer or Ludwig Wittgenstein, also consider the

    We cannot possibly talk about this meaningfully as he exists in the supernatural world. A problem of the verification principle is that it means we cannot verify historical accounts; however Ayer addresses this by developing the 'strong' and 'weak' verification principles. A strong verification is one which is undoubtedly true or can easily be checked personally. A weak verification can be given through accounts of other people past and future. A problem with this is that some religious language is historical in its nature therefore we should allow certain statements such as 'Jesus rose from the dead' or even 'Jesus existed'.

    • Word count: 819
  18. 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
  19. Analyse the key features of Virtue Ethics and Deontology; to what extent is one a more practical method of resolving moral dilemmas than the other.

    Superior aims can only be achieved if the subordinate aim is completed first. The aims of life are important to Aristotle claimed that the superior aim of human life is to achieve Eudaemonia, this is a Greek word which means happiness. Eudaemonia is only to be achieved when we become virtuous and Aristotle argues virtues need to be practiced for them to be virtuous the analogy of learning to play an instrument is used; the more you practice, the better you become.

    • Word count: 975
  20. Compare and contrast the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. To what extent is one of these a more convincing position than the other?

    Although Christianity, Islam and Judaism all believe in resurrection, they all have their different interpretations of the idea. Christians for example believe in heaven and that it is a place of God and that the souls wait until judgement day and then they will be resurrected. There is evidence of this idea in the bible in Daniel 2:23 and the resurrection of Lazarus and Christ. Jews on the other hand have a belief in the eventual resurrection of the dead; this is a fundamental belief of traditional Judaism. The belief of resurrection distinguished the Pharisees from the Sadducees; these people rejected the concept, because it is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah, whereas the Pharisees found the concept of resurrection implied in certain verses of the Torah.

    • Word count: 1335
  21. Distinguish between atheism and agnosticism. Analyse a critique of religious belief and consider critically whether it better supports an agnostic or atheist view?

    Richard Dawkins gives a popularist critique on religion; he aims to identify the obvious, negative and alarming features of religion and tries to persuade scholars as well as laymen that religious belief is dangerous. He is a British evolutionary biologist who has been outspoken in his support of Darwinism, atheism and secular humanism and opposition to religion. Richard Dawkins claims that Religious Belief is unnecessary because of Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution; Dawkins suggests that there is not a need for religious belief.

    • Word count: 1346
  22. Plato's Allegory of the Cave

    This is a reflection of the way Socrates, (Plato's tutor and mentor,) was treated by the people of Athens as he attempted to teach them more about the world that we live in, and encouraged them to question their surroundings and not take anything at face value. Socrates was placed on trial for corrupting the youth of Athens, and was sentenced to death by drinking a mixture containing poison hemlock. The importance of the events leading up to Plato's establishment as a philosopher in his own right cannot be underestimated as a major influence in his works, especially the allegory of the cave.

    • Word count: 762
  23. Analyse paragraphs 11 & 12 of Peter Donovans article 'Can we know God by experience?'

    In this specific passage however Donovan explores the ideas of H.P Owen, a British philosopher and theologian who was particularly noted for his support of moral arguments for the existence of God. Donovan uses a quote from Owen to represent his ideas on the different circumstances in which Christians might have a religious experience, such as nature, scripture of worship, and how all of these offer intuitive knowledge of God. Donovan then goes on to analyse the compatibility of these ideas with biblical scriptures.

    • Word count: 1146
  24. Conocer es Ignorar

    Como nuestro c�rculo de conocimiento se expande, tambi�n lo hace la circunferencia de la oscuridad que lo rodea. As� que cuanto m�s sabemos, m�s nos parece que no sabemos. Lo importante es no dejar de cuestionarnos. La curiosidad tiene su propia raz�n de existir. Uno no puede dejar de sentir temor cuando contempla los misterios de la eternidad, de la vida, de la maravillosa estructura de la realidad. Es suficiente si uno trata simplemente de comprender un poco de los misterios de cada d�a.

    • Word count: 802
  25. All of our Choices are Predetermined

    Whether our preferences are based on nature or nurture is an ongoing debate, but regardless of the final conclusion, as long as our opinions are based on either of the two options, we would be seen to be determined. Nature is not in our control, neither on the other hand, is nurture. If our personalities are based on environmental or genetic factors and nothing else then our actions are surely determined. This position is extremely convincing and was famously used by Clarence Darrow to prevent two murderers from receiving the death penalty, he argued that they where a product of their upbringing and as such could not be held morally responsible for their actions.

    • Word count: 1554

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