What is Philosophy?
Quite literally, the term “philosophy” means, “love of wisdom.”
Philosophy, then, is about seeking to understand the fundamental
truths about ourselves, the world in which we live, and our
relationship to the world and to each other. Those who study
philosophy are perpetually engaged in asking, answering, and
arguing, in an attempt to find answers to life’s most basic questions.
Why study Philosophy?
Students who learn philosophy get a great many benefits from
doing so. The tools taught by philosophy are of great use in
further education, and in employment. Despite the seemingly
abstract nature of the questions philosophers ask, the tools
philosophy teaches tend to be highly sought-after by employers.
Philosophy students learn how to write clearly, and to read
closely, with a critical eye; they are taught to spot bad reasoning,
and how to avoid it in their writing and in their work.
What topics are covered in Year 12?
All students will be expected to sit the AS paper towards the end
of their first year. The paper (3 hours) consists of two sections:
• Section A – Epistemology: Epistemology is concerned with
the theory of knowledge. It starts off with the question
“What is knowledge?”, moving on to looking at how
we acquire knowledge, the problem of relying on our
perception of the world, comparing this to the use of reason
and the limits of what actually might be knowable.
• Section B – Moral philosophy: Moral philosophy, or ethics,
looks at how we determine what is right and wrong.
The course critically looks at three ethical frameworks;
Utilitarianism, Kantian deontological ethics and Aristotelian
virtue ethics. The course also covers Meta-ethics which deals
with ethical language and what we actually mean when we
use the terms “right” and “wrong”.
What topics are covered in Year 13?
Students going on to study the A level qualification will have
needed to have covered all the work in Year 12 for the AS course.
This forms the bases for the first of two papers (both 3 hours). In
the second year of their A level studies they will cover two further
units of work which is assessed on their second paper:
• Section A: Metaphysics of God: Metaphysics deals with
abstract ideas and concepts. The question of God’s existence
is one which philosophers have been wrestling with for
thousands of years. The course critically looks at three
traditional arguments for the existence of God: Ontological,
Teleological and Cosmological. Students then go on to
examine whether or not the proposition of God’s existence
is incoherent especially with regards to the problem of evil
in the world.
• Section B: Metaphysics of mind: Philosophers have always
been interested in human consciousness. It has raised questions
about where consciousness come from and what makes
humans unique. The course looks at how traditional dualism,
physicalism and functionalism treat the mind-body problem.
What subjects at GCSE do I need for the course?
The course is perfectly accessible to all students. However, since
it is a written examination, a grade 6 or higher in GCSE English
would be advantageous.
What is Philosophy suitable for?
Philosophy has many applications and is sought after by many
academic courses. Philosophy continues to be a popular course
at degree level at university. Many students are attracted to
doing PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) especially if they
are interested in pursuing a career in politics. People who do
philosophy find themselves in a variety of work; from business to
entertainment. Philosophy is useful for those who are thinking
about furthering their studies in either science and technology or
“The un-examined life is not worth living.” Socrates (470 – 399 BCE)