Possible exam questions for OCR Religious Studies A level

This list of questions is roughly sorted into easy, medium and hard for each topic. These questions are taken directly from the specification and are therefore all potential questions that could come up in the exam.

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Find revision notes for OCR religious studies here.


Ancient Philosophical influences (Plato & Aristotle)

Critically compare Plato’s rationalism with Aristotle’s empiricism.
Does Plato or Aristotle make more sense of reality?
Assess Plato’s understanding of reality
Does the world of Forms exist?

Is Plato right that there is more to reality than we observe?
Critically discuss the ideas expressed in Plato’s analogy of the cave.
Analyse Aristotle’s four causes.
How convincing is Aristotle’s idea of the Prime Mover?
‘Aristotelian teleology is false’ – Discuss.
‘The true reality is accessible only by reason’ – Discuss.
Evaluate Plato’s purpose for the analogy of the cave.
Do the senses provide the best understanding of reality?
“Plato’s hierarchy of the forms tells us nothing about reality” – Discuss.

Critically compare Plato’s form of the good with Aristotle’s prime mover.
‘Aristotelian teleology is outdated’ – Discuss.
Critically compare Plato’s hierarchy of the forms with Aristotle’s four causes.

Soul, mind and body

Assess the approach of Materialism to understanding the mind.
Evaluate dualism.
Are the mind and the body separate?
Are Plato’s views on the soul correct?
How successful is Descartes’ substance dualism?

Does the soul exist?
Should the soul as a spiritual substance be rejected?
Can consciousness be fully explained by physical interactions?
Can the mind/soul and body problem be resolved?
Assess materialist critiques of dualism
Assess dualist arguments against materialism
Is the soul an essential and immaterial part of a human?
‘The soul is only temporarily united with the body’ – Discuss.
Is the soul the form of the body?
‘There is a soul but it cannot be separated from the body’ – How far do you agree?
Are the mind and body distinct substances?
Critically compare Descartes and Aristotle’s view of the soul.
What is consciousness?

‘Discussion of the mind-body distinction is a category error’ – Critically assess this view.
Is the concept of the soul best understood metaphorically or as a reality?
Assess the philosophical language of soul, mind and body in Plato and Aristotle’s work.
‘The soul is the way the body behaves and lives’ – Discuss.
Analyse the metaphysics of consciousness.

Arguments based on observation

Can the teleological/cosmological arguments overcome their criticisms?
Assess the teleological/cosmological argument
Can God’s existence be established by observation?
Can evidence of God’s existence be observed?
Are there logical fallacies in the teleological/cosmological arguments that cannot be overcome?

Can teleological arguments be defended against the challenge of ‘chance’?
Do Cosmological arguments jump to the conclusion of a transcendent creator without sufficient explanation?
‘Hume’s criticisms of the teleological/cosmological argument succeed’ – How far do you agree?
‘Aquinas’ first three ways show that we should believe in God’ – How far do you agree?
Assess Paley’s design argument

Is a posteriori a more successful form of argument than a priori?
Is God’s existence better proven by a priori or a posteriori argument?
‘A priori argument is stronger than a posteriori’ – Discuss.
Assess Aquinas’ 5th way
“The teleological argument fails due to the challenge of evolution” – Discuss.
Does evolution disprove the teleological argument?

Arguments based on reason

Assess Anselm’s ontological argument
Does the ontological argument justify belief?
Are there logical fallacies in the ontological argument that cannot be overcome?

Can existence be treated as a predicate?
Are Gaunilo’s criticisms of the ontological argument the most effective?
Assess whether Kant or Gaunilo’s critique poses the greater challenge to the ontological argument.

Is a posteriori a more successful form of argument than a priori?
‘A priori argument is stronger than a posteriori’ – Discuss.
Assess Gaunilo’s criticisms of the ontological argument.
Assess Kant’s criticisms of the ontological argument

Religious experience

Are religious experiences just illusions?
‘religious experience justifies belief in God’ – How far do you agree?

Are religious experiences evidence of God?
‘Religious experiences are union with a greater power’ – Discuss.
Do religious experiences prove God’s existence?
Assess whether testimony and witness is sufficient to validate religious experiences
‘Mystical experiences are of God’ – how far do you agree?
Assess whether religious experiences are the product of a physiological effect

Are corporate religious experiences more reliable than individual experiences?
How successful are the views and main conclusions of William James?
Does the influence religious experiences have show they have a supernatural source?
‘Conversion experiences are more reliable than mystical experiences’ – How far do you agree?

The problem of evil

Assess Augustine’s theodicy
Assess Hick’s sole making theodicy
Can monotheism be defended in the face of evil?

Does the logical problem of evil succeed?
To what extent does the evidential problem of evil challenge belief?
Does Augustine’s use of original perfection and the Fall solve the problem of evil?
Assess Hick’s reworking of the Irenaean theodicy
‘natural evil enables human beings to reach divine likeness’ – How far do you agree?
Critically compare the success of Augustine and Hick’s theodicies.

Is the logical or evidential problem of evil the greater challenge to belief?
Is it easier to show that God’s existence lacks evidence than that it is logically impossible?
‘Augustine solves the logical problem of evil’ – Discuss
Does Augustine’s theodicy succeed against the evidential problem of evil?
‘Hick cannot solve the evidential problem of evil’ – How far do you agree?
How successfully can the evidental problem of evil be addressed through the explanation of soul-making?

The nature or attributes of God

Is the concept of God coherent?
What is the relationship between divinity and time?
‘If God is omniscient, humans can’t have free will’ – Discuss.
Analyse the implications of God’s eternity.

Is Swinburne correct that God is everlasting/temporal?
Can God be omnipotent?
Can God be omnibenevolent?
‘The divine attributes of God conflict with each other’ – Discuss.
Assess Boethius and Anselm’s view on God’s relationship with time.
Does God know future human actions?
‘God is limited by divine self-limitation’ – how far do you agree?
Does God have divine foreknowledge?
Can God justly judge human actions?
Critically compare Boethius with Swinburne on God’s relationship with time.
Assess Boethius’ claim that God is eternal/atemporal.

Assess Anselm’s four-dimensionalist approach.
Does Anselm’s four-dimensionalist approach adequately explain divine action in time?
Evaluate Boethius’ view of divine action and time.
Critically compare Anselm with Swinburne on God’s relationship with time.
“It is not necessary to resolve the apparent conflicts between divine attributes” – Discuss.

Religious language: Negative, Analogical or Symbolic

Assess the apophatic way (via negative)
Assess the cataphatic way (via positiva)
‘God can be talked about symbolically’ – How far do you agree?

‘Analogy is more effective than symbol for talking about God’ – Discuss.
Does Tillich capture religious language better than the apophatic way?
Critically compare analogy and via negative as methods of approaching religious language.
Is God a symbol?
Can Religious language be understood through Aquinas’ analogy of attribution and proper proportion?
Critically assess whether theological language is best approached by negation.
Does the apophatic way enable effective understanding of theological discussion?

Does Aquinas’ analogical approach support effective expression of language about God?
Is symbolic religious language comprehensible?

Religious Language: Twentieth Century Perspectives

Assess logical positivism
Assess Wittgenstein’s views on language games.
Is religious language meaningful?
Is verificationism an accurate theory of meaning?

‘Words must have a verifiable connection to empirical reality to be meaningful’ – Do you agree?
Assess Flew’s views on religious language
Critically compare Aquinas’ cognitivism with Wittgenstein’s non-cognitivism.
Is religious language non-cognitive?
‘Hare’s account of religious language is correct’ – Discuss.
Which was the most convincing point of view in the falsification symposium?
Does religious language have a factual quality?

Assess Mitchell’s contribution to the falsification symposium
Is religious language a form of life?
To what extent is Aquinas’ analogical view of religious language valuable in the philosophy of religion.
Should non-cognitive approaches influence interpretation of religious texts?


Natural Law

Does natural law provide a helpful method of moral decision-making?
Assess Aquinas’s natural law ethics.

Can judging something as right or wrong be based on whether it achieves its telos?
Does human nature have an orientation towards the good?
‘Ethics can be derived from human nature’ – How far do you agree?
Assess Aquinas’ claim that there is a tier of natural law between human and divine.
How ethical are the primary precepts?
Is there a moral law of God within human nature that is discoverable by reason?”
Evaluate Aquinas’ view that human law should be related to the natural law.

Is the universe designed with a telos?
How ethically valid is the doctrine of the double effect?
Does the doctrine of the double effect justify actions like killing in self-defence?
If human nature is sinful, can natural law theory work?
Analyse Aquinas’ four tiers of law.
“The eternal, divine and human laws are the only valid laws” – Discuss.
Critically assess Aquinas’ religious development of Aristotle’s concept of telos.

Situation Ethics

‘Situation ethics provides a helpful method of moral decision-making’ – How far do you agree?
Can judging something as right or wrong be based on the extent to which, in any given situation, agape is best served

Is Fletcher’s understanding of agape really religious?
Does Fletcher’s view of agape reduce to wanting the best for the person involved in a given situation rather than a religious view.
‘The rejection of absolute rules makes situation ethics entirely individualistic and subjective’ – Discuss.
Assess whether love should be the ruling norm in ethical decision-making.
Is love the only thing that is intrinsically good?

How successfully do Fletcher’s six propositions give rise to situation ethics?
“Fletcher’s four working principles should be applied to all moral actions” – Discuss.
Is conscience a verb or a noun?
Is Fletcher correct that conscience is a term the describes attempts to make decisions creatively?
“The laws of christian ethics cannot be relativised” – Discuss.
“Persons should be at the centre of ethics” – Discuss.

Kantian Ethics

Does Kantian ethics provide a helpful method of moral decision-making?
Can judging something as right of wrong be based on the extent to which duty is best served?

‘Excluding empathy and love from moral decision making is wrong’ – Discuss.
Are categorical imperatives our duty?
“Moral action is based on whether a maxim can be estabished as a universal law” – Discuss.
Should we take a deontological and absolutist approach to ethics?

To what extent is Kantian ethics is too abstract to be applicable to practical moral decision-making?
Critically assess Kant’s view that the hypothetical imperative cannot be the imperative of morality.
Is Kant correct that consequences are irrelevant to the morality of an action?
“The three postulates must be accepted in obeying a moral command” – evaluate this view.
“Kantian ethics is overly reliant on reason” – Discuss.
“Kantian ethics unduly rejects the importance of sympathy, empathy and love in moral decision-making” – Discuss.


Does utilitarianism provide a helpful method of moral decision-making?
Can moral judgement be based on the extent to which, in any given situation, utility is best served?

Is it possible to measure good or pleasure and then reach a moral decision?
“The moral action is the one which has the greatest balance of pleasure over pain” – Discuss.
Is moral action a matter of following accepted laws that lead to the greatest balance of pleasure over pain?
Is an action morally justified if it produces the greatest amount of good over evil?
Assess whether rule utilitarianism successfully improves on act utilitarianism.
Critically compare act and rule utilitarianism

How morally valid is the hedonic calculus?
“Morality is not based on utility” – Discuss.
Should Utilitarianism aim to promote the greatest overall balance of good over evil or the greatest amount of good over evil?


Assess whether natural law is helpful for dealing with the issue of euthanasia
Assess whether situation ethics is helpful for dealing with the issue of euthanasia
‘euthanasia can be the loving choice in some situations’ – Discuss.
‘euthanasia goes against God’ – How far do you agree?
Can euthanasia ever be justified?
To what extent is euthanasia morally good?

Should a person have complete autonomy to choose euthanasia?
Is quality of life a basis on which euthanasia might be justified?
‘Life should never be ended because it is sacred’ – Discuss.

‘The religious concept of sanctity of life has no meaning in twenty-first century medical ethics’ – How far do you agree?
Critically compare sanctity of life with autonomy as principles for judging the issue of euthanasia
Is there a moral difference between active and passive euthanasia?
Critically compare the morality of voluntary with non-voluntary euthanasia

Business Ethics

How useful is utilitarianism in dealing with issues in business ethics?
Assess whether Kantian ethics applies successfully to business ethics
What does it take for business to be ethical?

Does the principle of utility lead to ethical business?
‘the categorical imperative leads to ethical business’ – Discuss.
Is Corporate social responsibility just ‘hypocritical window-dressing covering the greedy profit motive of business.
Can human beings flourish in the context of capitalism and consumerism?
Assess whether corporate social responsibility makes business ethical
To what extent is whistle-blowing ethical?
How successful is Kantian ethics at dealing with the issue of (CSR/Whistleblowing/Globalisation)?
How helpful is Utilitarianism at dealing with the issue of (CSR/Whistleblowing/Globalisation)?

Assess whether globalisation encourages or discourages the pursuit of good ethics as the foundation of good business.
Is good ethics good business?
Should whistle-blowing be considered good ethical business practice?


Assess whether ethical terms such as good and bad have an objective factual basis that makes them true or false in describing something.
Do ‘good’ and ‘bad’ reflect only what is in the mind of the speaker?
Is the word ‘good’ meaningless?
‘Ethical naturalism is true’ – Discuss.
Assess intuitionism
Assess emotivism

Does common sense suggest that people just know within themselves what is good and bad?
“Values can be defined in terms of some natural property in the world” – Discuss.
“Basic moral truths are self-evident” – Discuss.
Can the word “good” be defined?
“Ethical terms evince approval or disapproval” – Discuss.

Critically compare relativism with absolutism
“What is meant by the word ‘good’ is the defining question in the study of ethics” – Discuss.


Critically compare Aquinas and Freud’s view of the conscience
Are the workings of God present in the conscience?

‘Freud makes more sense of the concept of guilt than Aquinas’ – Discuss.
Does a theological approach to conscience work better than a psychological approach?
Critically compare Aquinas and Freud’s views on the process of moral decision-making.

Does conscience exist at all or is it an umbrella term for culture, environment, genetics and education?
Is conscience merely an umbrella term for the psychological factors involved in moral decision making?
Critically assess Freud’s psychosexual approach.

Sexual ethics

Are secular views on sexual ethics superior to traditional religious views?
‘Secular sexual ethics are an improvement on traditional religious views’ – How far do you agree?
Assess religious views on sexual ethics
How useful is natural law in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?
How useful is situation ethics in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?
How useful is Kantian ethics in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?
How useful is utilitarianism in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?

Do religious views on sexual ethics have a continuing role today?
Are normative theories useful for issues within sexual ethics?
Should sexual behaviour be entirely private or a matter of public norms and legislation?
Assess Aquinas’ on sexual ethics
Should sexual ethics be judged based on the loving thing to do in each situation?
How successful is the categorical imperative applied to sexual ethics?
‘Issues in sexual ethics should be judged based on the principle of utility’ – Discuss.
Can premarital sex ever be ethical?
Can extramarital sex ever be ethical?
Can homosexuality ever be ethical?

To what extent are traditional religious views on sexual ethics relevant today?
‘Developments in religious views on sexual ethics have had a significant impact’ – Discuss.
Have religious view on sexual ethics changed for the better?


Augustine on Human Nature

Are Augustine’s teachings on a historical Fall and Original Sin wrong?
Assess Augustine’s teaching on human nature

Are Augustine’s teachings on the historical Fall correct?
‘Augustine’s views on Original Sin are false’ – How far do you agree?
Is Augustine correct that humans can never be morally good?
Is Augustine’s view of human nature pessimistic or optimistic?
Is Original Sin the explanation of human sin and social corruption?
‘There is nothing we can do to deserve God’s grace’ – Discuss.
“Humans cannot be good because of sin.” – Discuss.

‘There is no distinctive human nature’ – Discuss.
Assess Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis
How convincing is Augustine’s view of God’s grace?
Critically assess Augustine’s views on the effects of original sin on societies.
How convincing are Augustine’s views on the Summum bonum?

Death and the afterlife

Does God’s judgment take place immediately after death or at the end of time?
Is heaven the transformation and perfection of the whole of creation?
Is heaven a place/state/symbol
Is hell a place/state/symbol
Who goes to heaven?

Is purgatory a place/state/symbol
Is purgatory a state through which everyone goes?
Are heaven and hell eternal?
Assess limited election
‘Everyone goes to heaven’ – Discuss.
Is election unlimited?

Are all people called to salvation?
Is hell eternal?
Is heaven eternal?
What does the parable of the sheep and the goats suggest about the afterlife?

Knowledge of God’s existence

Can God be known through reason alone?
Is faith sufficient for belief in God?
Assess the possibility of natural knowledge of God’s existence.
Assess whether revealed knowledge of God’s existence is the only valid type.

Assess whether the Fall completely removed all natural human knowledge of God
Is faith in God’s revelation in Jesus required to know God?
‘Human sin and finitude prevents natural knowledge of God’ – Discuss.
Can God be known through his creation?
Does God’s creation reveal his beauty, goodness, design and purpose?

Is natural knowledge of God the same as revealed knowledge?
Is belief in God’s existence sufficient to put one’s trust in him?
What is the human intellect capable by itself of discovering about God?

The person of Jesus Christ

Was Jesus only a teacher of wisdom?
Was Jesus more than a political liberator?
Was Jesus the Son of God?

Was God’s relationship with Jesus very special or truly unique?
What do Jesus’ teachings on repentance and forgiveness tell us about who he was?
“Jesus’ teachings on inner purity and moral motivation show that he was a teacher of wisdom” – Discuss.
Can Jesus’ authority be understood exclusively as the Son of God?

Did Jesus think he was divine?
Does Jesus’ resurrection show that Jesus was the Son of God?
“Jesus’ miracles show that he was divine” – Discuss.
“Jesus’ is most defined by his challenge to political authority” – evaluate this view.
“Jesus’ knowledge of God expresses his divinity” – Discuss.
“Mark 6:47-52 shows that Jesus is the son of God” – Discuss.
Assess the implications for the person of Jesus of John 9:1-41
Does Matthew 5:17-48 show that Jesus is only a teacher of wisdom?
Does Matthew Luke 15:11-32 show that Jesus is only a teacher of wisdom?
“Jesus was a liberator as shown in Mark 5-24:34” – Discuss
What does Luke 10:25-37 tell us about Jesus?

Christian moral principles

Is the principle of love sufficient to live a good life?
Is the Bible a comprehensive moral guide?
‘Christian ethics should combine the Bible, Church and reason’ – How far do you agree?

Does the Bible reveal God’s will?
What is the implication for Christian ethics of Jesus’ command to love?
Critically compare the view of the Bible having the only authority with it having equal authority to Church teachings.

Is Christian ethics distinctive?
Are Christian ethics personal or communal?
“The Bible reveals God’s will, so only biblical ethical commands must be followed” – Discuss.
“Jesus’ only command was to love” – Discuss.
“Human reason must work with the bible and Church teaching, not only in applying agape” – Discuss.

Christian moral action

Does Bonhoeffer put too much emphasis on suffering?
Assess Bonhoeffer’s teaching on the relationship of Church and State
‘Bonhoeffer’s views on the cost of discipleship are too extreme’ – How far do you agree?

Is it possible always to know God’s will?
How relevant is Bonhoeffer’s theology today?
Should Christians practise civil disobedience?
“Bonhoeffer was overall not a good role model for Christians” – Discuss.
To what degree does Christian ethics require sacrifice and suffering?
Critically assess the implications of Bonhoeffer’s role in the Confessing Church and Finkenwalde.

Assess Bonhoeffer’s views on the role of the Church.
How should a Christian think about the relation between duty of God and duty to the state?
“Christians should follow Bonhoeffer’s teachings on solidarity” – Discuss.
Assess Bonhoeffer’s teaching on ethics as action.
What are the implications of the Church as community and source of spiritual discipline?

Religious pluralism and theology

Assess exclucivism
Assess inclucivism
‘Pluralism is true’ – Do you agree?
If Christ is the ‘truth’ can there be any other means of salvation?
‘All good people will be saved’ – Discuss.
Are there multiple equal paths to salvation?
Is Christianity the one path or merely one path to salvation?
‘Christianity fully offers the means of salvation’ – How far do you agree?

Does theological pluralism undermine central Christian beliefs?
Would a loving God ultimately deny any human being salvation?
Is Christianity the normative means of salvation?
Assess the implications of Christ being the ‘truth’.
Critically compare exclusivism with inclusivism
Critically compare exclusivism with Pluralism
Critically compare inclucivism with Plutalism

“The doctrine of anonymous Christians is false’ – Discuss.

Religious pluralism and society

Has inter-faith dialogue contributed practically towards social cohesion?
Assess the methods and aims of the scriptural reasoning movement
Should Christian communities seek to convert people from other faiths?
Should Christians have a mission to those of no faith?
“Inter-faith dialogue is a waste of time” – Discuss.

Does mutual study and interpretation of different religions’ sacred literature benefit society?
‘Scriptural reasoning relativizes religious belief’ – Discuss.
How should Christians respond to inter-faith dialogue?
How should Christians respond to the development of contemporary multi-faith societies?

What is the best way to develop contemporary multi-faith societies?
Have Christian communities responded well to the challenge of encounters with other faiths?
How might understanding of different and conflicting religious truth claims be promoted?
Analyse the Catholich Church’s ‘Redemptoris Missio’.
Assess the views expressed in the Church of England’s ‘Sharing the Gospel of Salvation’.

Gender and society

Should official Christian teaching resist current secular views of gender?
Have secular views of gender equality undermined Christian gender roles?
Assess Christian teaching on the roles of men and women in the family and society.
How successful have Christian responses to secular views about gender been?

Is motherhood liberating or restricting?
‘Christian teaching on the gender roles in the family and society is sexist’ – How far do you agree?
‘Traditional Christian views on gender roles are more successful than secular views’ – Discuss.
Critically assess the views expressed in Mulieris Dignitatem.
Are Christian challenges to changing attitudes about gender convincing?
“Christian thought and practice has been undermined by contemporary secular views on gender roles” – Discuss.

Is the idea of family entirely culturally determined?
Has Christianity successfully adapted to changing views on family and gender?
“Christianity should accept different types of family than the traditional” – Discuss.
“Challenging Christian practice regarding gender roles has not has any effect” – Discuss.

Gender and theology

Is Christianity essentially sexist?
What are the implications of gender for the Christian idea of God?
Evaluate Ruether’s views on gender.
Evaluate Daly’s views on gender.
Critically compare Ruether and Daly’s feminist theologies.
Critically compare Ruether and Daly’s attitude towards Christianity.
Should Christianity be changed or abandoned?

‘A male saviour cannot save women’ – Discuss.
Is Ruether or Daly more convincing regarding sexism and patriarchy in Christianity
‘Only women can develop a genuine spirituality’- Discuss.
Can the Christian God be presented in female terms?
‘if God is male then the male is God’ – Discuss.
Is the Unholy trinity the real trinity of Christianity?
Critically assess Ruether’s view of Jesus.
Assess Ruether’s views on the implications for salvation of the maleness of Christ.
“Viewing Jesus as the incarnation of wisdom cannot justify Ruether’s feminist theology” – Discuss.

Is Ruether or Daly more convincing regarding sexism and patriarchy in mainstream Churches
Critically compare Reuther and Daly’s views on the maleness of Christ and God.
What are the implications of Jesus’ challenge to the male warrior-massiah expectation?
“The female wisdom principle has nothing to do with the Christian God” – Discuss.

The Challenge of Secularism

Does Christianity cause personal and social problems?
Should Christianity be a significant contributor to society’s culture and values?
‘Christianity is infantile, repressive and causes conflict’ – How far do you agree?

Are spiritual values just human values?
If we get rid of religion will there be no basis for morality?
‘Christianity significantly defines today’s culture and values’ – How far do you agree?
Would society be happier without Christianity?
Is Christianity the result of wish fulfilment?

Can Christianity learn and develop from secularism?
Assess the views and goals of secular humanism
Is Christian belief a personal or public matter?
‘Christianity has no place in education or schools’ – Discuss.
‘Society has improved because religion was divorced from political power’ – How far do you agree?

Liberation Theology and Marx

Should Christian theology engage with atheist secular ideologies?
Is it right for Christians to prioritise one group over another?
‘Christians have nothing to learn from Marx’ – How far do you agree?
Should Christians have a preferential option for the poor?

Does Christianity tackle social issues more effectively than Marxism?
How appropriate is liberation theology’s use of Marx to analyse social sin?
Should the Church concern itself with ‘structural’ causes of social sin?
‘The Gospel demands that Christians must give priority to the poor’ – Discuss.
‘Christianity has nothing to say about capitalism’ – Discuss.
“Marx’s teaching on alienation and exploitation has no relevance for Christianity” – Discuss.
How important in Christianity is solidarity with the poor?
Should Christians criticise capitalism?
What do Christians have to learn from Marx’s concepts of alienation and exploitation?

Has liberation theology engaged with Marxism fully enough?
Should orthopraxis occur before orthodoxy?
“Capitalism and institutions are the cause of social sin” – Discuss.