OCR Philosophy possible exam questions

These questions are taken from the wording of the specitication, meaning they could all actually come up in the exam. They are roughly sorted into easy, medium and hard.

Find revision notes for Philosophy 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.
‘Plato’s form of the Good is not real’ – 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‘Aristotelian teleology is outdated’ – Discuss.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?
Are there any convincing solutions to the mind-body problem?

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.
How convincing is Descartes’ solution to the mind-body problem?

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?