AS Philosophy

The main topics to cover in AS Philosophy

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Hume's Fork


Analytic -----------------------a priori------------------------Necessary 

Synthetic ---------------------a posteriori-------------------Contigent 


Analytic -----------------------a priori------------------------Necessary

Sythentic///////////////////////// a posteriori--------------------Contingent 

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Descartes & Leibnez


Believes in knowledge a priori & relies on existence of God (innate idea of God)

example of man stuck on a desert island will come up with the idea of greater being/God.


Proofs of God's existence fails, all that is based on God therefore fails

It would seem we cannot have a priori knowledge 

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Locke & Hume


Believe in knowledge a posteriori of experience, Locke believes the mind is initially a Tabula Rasa;

Hume believes in the distinction between impressions and ideas.
The mere idea of a tiger in the  next room does not greatly affect my emotions or my actions; but if I believed that there were a tiger in the next room, my feelings and actions would be affected to a considerable degree.


Memory of pain does not hurt

One exception would disprove the rule.

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Conceptual Schemes

Our culture, past and society can influence our conceptual schemes

example of tribe in africa can see different shades of green but we see different shades of blue.

Wittgenstein's example of if a tiger could talk we wouldn't understand it because it's life is so different from ours.

Sense experience is not enough on it's own. Your mind needs something to convert what you see into what you think it is. Play-do factory.

Kant uses a synthetic a priori which is something that is in between a priori and a posteriori.

"all bachelors are unhappy" - not necessarily true, this is not true in all cases

"all bachelors are unmarried" - this is true as the word 'bachelor' means unmarried, you cannot have a married bachelor but you can have an unhappy one. 

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sceptical arguments of the veil of perception

The veil of perception is the term for objects being filtered out by our ideas, our perception of the world is indirect. 

How do we get sense data from objects? How can we say that what we see actually resembles the object?

Descartes argues that there is a non-deceiving God, this argument fails, no proof of a God.

Russell's claim about best explanation

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Representative Realism

(Arguments against 'direct realism' are in favour of representative realism)

Interlinks with sense data theory. 

Mind - idea - object

Sceptical arguments are in favour of representative realism

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We have no concept of 'matter'.

Reality is mental not physical. Esse Est Percepi - To be is to be perceived

Representative realism's view that nothing exists except when being perceived is challenged as Berkeley, accepting the Cartesian model, claims that God perceives everything all the time, therefore must exist. 

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Direct Realism

Direct/naive realism

physical objects are immediate objects of perception, arguments from skepticism, perspective, the circularity argument...


the distinction between primary and secondary qualities

Primary - physical dimensions - properties of the object itself

Secondary - colour, smell - dependent upon perceiver

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Altruism - always help somebody else before yourself.

(Ethical) Egoism - People can only ever act in their self-interest.

Arguments against altruism - going out to eat. Two friends both want to go for a meal. The one would prefer to go to an indian but thinks the other friend would prefer chinese so suggests chinese to the friend. The friend accepts because she thinks that is what the other friend would prefer, when she would also prefer Indian. Both have lost out because they were trying to be selfless. 

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Social Contract Theory

The view that morality is a conventional contract for our mutual advantage. 


Aristotle - Man is a social creature
Humans naturally exist in groups

A rational/selfish man would break the contract as and when it suits them to, prisoner's dilema. 

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This is the thought that you are to act on the morally correct choice even if the consequence is not desirable.

axe murderer at the door asking for your friend example. 

Cannot be universalised

Hume said our actions are determined by passion and not reason alone.

Does not accord with conventional notions of reality.

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Virtue Theory for AS

To flourish rather than to be happy.

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The view that everything in the universe is already pre-determined. The view that everything is caused

Linking to chaos theory - a butterfly flaps it's wings in america causing a tidal wave in japan.

Against free will - Physical laws are deterministic, we are subject to the laws, therefore we have no free will 

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A person has complete control over the decisions they make and are entirely responsible for everything that happens to them, similar to Satre's existentialism.

Incompatible with Determinism. 

Untestable. However, we subjectively feel that we could have chosen otherwise.

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The kind of freedom we have is not Metaphysical free will. We are part of the world so are subject to forces of determinism but there are forces that give us our identity.  

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Fatalism & Pre-destination

The future is fixed and there is nothing to be done about it...predestination is the view that God’s omniscience implies that our fate is set.

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Sceptical Arguments

Perceptual illusion (against direct realism) - Muller line example <---------->


Perceptual variation - perceptions varies on the angle of the observer

Evil demon - All of out thoughts, lives are controlled by an exterior entity

Dreaming - Don't know if we are us dreaming or something else dreaming about us - Chuang Tzu - Butterfly dream, inception (counter - dreams are furnished by reality)

Time Lag - stars light years ago and we see them in the past, never see things directly, everything is in the past, light takes time to travel on everything (against direct realism)

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