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Cognitive vs non-cognitive
When words come out of someone’s mouth, they are coming from, being triggered by or, most accurately said, ‘expressing’ a certain part of their mind. If you say “The table is made of wood”, that is expressing the part of the mind that contains beliefs. Philosophers call such language cognitive.
If you are in pain and say “ouch”, that word is not expressing the part of the mind which contains beliefs. Philosophers call that non-cognitive, to indicate that it is a non-belief. In this case, it would be an expression of a feeling of pain.
The debate is where religious language fits into this distinction. When a religious person says “God is exists”, it looks like they are expressing a cognitive belief, but some philosophers argue that it is really more of a non-cognitive feeling/attitude.
When a religious person uses religious language and says ‘God exists’, do they believe that God exists, or feel that God exists?
Logical Positivism is a philosophical movement aimed at rejecting non-empirical language as meaningless. Philosophers like Comte and Mill, impressed at the power of science, wanted to universally extend the use of the scientific method, thinking scientific knowledge the only factual knowledge. Comte coined the term positivism to describe the scientific method of reliance on objective empirical data used to make empirical generalisations with predictive power. This was developed to focus on language by Russell and early Wittgenstein. ‘Logical’ emphasises Russell’s influence of focusing on the logical form and use of language.
Verificationism was invented by the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers, the most famous of which was A. J. Ayer. They believed that metaphysical claims (a priori reasoning about reality beyond empirical investigation), including religious language, is meaningless.
Ayer argued that the classic debates between empiricists and rationalists “are as unwarranted as they are unfruitful”. The empiricists claim that knowledge must be derived a posteriori from sense experience. However, rationalists/metaphysicians often claim that their premises are not based on their senses but derived from an a priori faculty of intellectual intuition which enables them to know about reality beyond sense experience.
Ayer claims that it is impossible for an empiricist to prove that a priori reason/thought cannot know things beyond a posteriori reason, because empirical thought cannot tell us about anything beyond empirical thought, including whether or not there anything beyond it. In other words, the problem with denying metaphysics is that it requires a metaphysical claim to do so.
So, Ayer concludes that the elimination of metaphysics should not be based on empirical claims, but on logic. It cannot be attacked by factually criticising its method of a priori intuition. Ayer claims instead he can eliminate metaphysics not by suggesting a factual limit to empirical thought but by accusing the metaphysician of disobeying the rules governing the significant (meaningful) use of language. So, Ayer thinks he can avoid the question of whether there really is in fact a faculty of intuition by claiming that metaphysical language is meaningless.
The verification principle is how Ayer did this. It states: “A sentence if factually significant (meaningful) if, and only if, we know how to verify the proposition it purports to express – that is, if we know what observations would lead us to accept the proposition as true or reject it as false.” If a claim cannot be verified by sense experience, then it is not factually significant and only has a non-cognitive emotional significance. This allows Ayer to avoid having to make the metaphysical claim that metaphysics is impossible. Instead, he can say that metaphysical utterances are meaningless because they cannot be verified in sense experience.
The idea is that words get their meaning by connecting to things in our shared experience, or by being true by definition. If a word connects to the world, that connection should be verifiable.
For Ayer, language can only be meaningful if it is cognitive and either analytic or verifiable.
‘God’ is a metaphysical term according to Ayer, which means it is about something beyond the empirical world, so there can be no way to empirically verify it.
Whether Ayer’s theory is too restrictive
Overly restrictive: Ayer’s theory was criticised for being overly restrictive of meaning. Wouldn’t History be considered meaningless because it can’t be empirically verified?
Ayer’s response was to come up with weak verification. We can weakly verify anything for which there is some evidence which provides probability for it being the case. E.g. Historical documents and archaeological findings can be verified, and on the basis of those we can weakly verify that there were certain civilisations in the past with certain histories to them.
Arguably Ayer has opened the door to religious belief here, however. For example, the teleological argument attempts to infer God’s existence from experience of the world.
Ayer initially argued for weak verification, but later decided it ‘allows meaning to any indicative statement’. So, he developed:
- Direct verification – a statement that is verifiable by observation. E.g. ‘I see a key’ is directly verifiable and so has factual meaning.
- Indirect verification – when things we have directly verified support a statement which we haven’t directly verified but know how to verify, we can be said to have indirect verification for it. E.g. ‘This key is made of iron’.
This seem to rule out the possibility of verifying God since we don’t know how to verify God.
Eschatological verification as a criticism/weakness of Verificationism
Hick argued that there is a way to verify God and religious language, because when we die, we’ll see God and then we’ll know.
Hick illustrates this argument with the parable of the celestial city. Imagine there are two travellers, one representing a theist, the other an atheist. They are walking along a road, representing life. One thinks that a celestial city is at the end of the road, representing an afterlife and God, the other does not. Neither has reached the end of this road before. Hick finishes with this sentence:
“Yet, when they turn the last corner, it will be apparent that one of them has been right all the time and the other wrong.” – Hick.
Hick is making use of Ayer’s claim that something must be verifiable in practice or principle. Ayer gave the example of mountains being on the dark side of the moon as something that was verifiable in principle. They had not seen the dark side of the moon in his time, but they knew that in principle it was possible to go there and look.
Hick is arguing that religious language is also verifiable in principle because it is possible that when we die we will ‘see’ God. Hick directly targets Ayer’s theory. Ayer makes it clear that a statement is meaningful even if it is only verifiable in principle. So, Hick only has to show that there is a way to verify God’s existence in principle for statements about God to be meaningful.
However, we can’t be sure that there really is a celestial city at the end of the road – that there is an afterlife where we can experience and verify God. It’s only a possibility.
Verifiability in principle & Ayer’s example of mountains on the dark side of the moon.
The statement that there are mountains on the dark side of the moon was verifiable in principle in Ayer’s time because they knew how to verify it. They knew the moon existed, that travel in space was possible and knew they simply had to look once traveling there.
None of these requirements hold true in the case of the afterlife. Unlike the moon, we do not know that an afterlife exists. It’s possible that it exists, but that is not enough for us to justifiably claim that it is verifiable in principle, because we do not know that there are steps, had we the means to take them, which would provide the verification in question.
Evaluation: This weakness of Hick is successful because Hick only shows that religious language is ‘possibly’ verifiable. He hasn’t shown that it is actually verifiable in principle.
The verification principle cannot be verified
It states that to be meaningful a statement must be analytic or empirically verifiable. However, that means that in order for the verification principle itself to be meaningful, it must be analytic or empirically verifiable. If we try to take the verification principle empirically then it would be an empirical claim that if we investigate what kind of meaning people use then we will see that it is either analytic or empirical. But that appears to be false since empirical evidence shows that people have meant something else by meaning throughout history e.g. Plato found it meaningful to talk of the world of forms and theologians find it meaningful to talk of God, both of which involve unempirical metaphysical terms.
Ayer responds by admitting that the verification principle cannot be a factual statement about the meaning of factual statements and claims instead that it is a methodological stipulation, a tool which the logical positivist adopts for methodological purposes. It is a tool which enables us to figure out whether a statement has empirical meaning.
The tools of empiricism do not disprove rationalism: this appears to reduce the verification principle into a tool one might use if you already agree with empiricism. A priori metaphysical statements are now only meaningless to this particular empirical tool, rather than categorically meaningless. In that case, Ayer has not shown that the non-empirical approach leads to meaningless metaphysical statements, only that they are meaningless from the perspective of the tools of empiricism. This no longer shows that we have to accept empiricism to avoid saying meaningless things, only that if we accept empiricism, we will find the results of a non-empirical approach meaningless.
Karl Popper thought he could capture empiricism better than verificationism could. Popper was impressed with Einstein who claimed Mercury would wobble in its orbit at a certain time in the future because if that prediction was wrong, Einstein’s theory would be falsified. Popper was less impressed with Marxists and Freudians because they only looked for verifications of their views without ever admitting a way they could be falsified. Popper concluded that true empiricism operates by falsification, not verification.
Furthermore, Popper thought verificationism couldn’t capture empirical generalisations, which he illustrated with the claim ‘all swans are white’. To verify that would require knowing that at no point in time nor at any place in the universe did a non-white swan ever exist. However, the claim is falsifiable because we can say what would prove it wrong; seeing a non-white swan.
Anthony Flew applied falsificationism to religious language. He claimed that religious belief is unfalsifiable because believers can’t say what could prove their belief false. It follows that they are not actually asserting anything about reality.
The parable of the gardener
Flew illustrated his approach using belief in a gardener as an analogy for belief in God. Two people are walking and see a garden. One claims there is a gardener who tends to it, so the other suggest waiting and seeing if that is true. After a while, the other says ‘actually, they are an invisible gardener’, so they set up barbed wire fences and so on to try and detect this invisible gardener, at which point they then say ‘actually, it’s a non-physical gardener’.
At this point the other person gets annoyed an asks what is for Flew the crucial question: “But what remains of your original assertion?”. The religious person claims to believe in a God, but in order to protect that belief from empirical testing they continually add qualifications to the belief, saying it’s ‘not this’ and ‘not that’, etc. Well eventually, it’s going to be nothing, is Flew’s point, causing the concept of God to “die a death of a thousand qualifications”.
Flew ends with the question – what is the difference between a world in which this gardener (God) exists, and a world in which it doesn’t exist. If belief in God is consistent with any possible discovery about reality, then its existence surely can make no difference to reality. It cannot be about reality. Flew claims Religious language therefore ‘fails to assert’ anything. It is unfalsifiable and so meaningless.
Religious language expresses unfalsifiable belief
Empirical knowledge is only ever our current best explanation of the available evidence. So, all our beliefs about reality could be wrong. You might think it is certain that the Sun exists, for example, but you could be in the matrix, dreaming, or in an alien reality TV show. You can’t know anything about reality for certain. Empiricists tend to accept this.
All our beliefs about reality are falsifiable (could be false).
So, a belief that is unfalsifiable cannot be about reality.
Religious believers cannot say what could prove their belief false.
So, religious belief is unfalsifiable
Therefore, religious belief cannot be about reality and fails to have cognitive meaning.
Flew concludes that religious language is meaningless because it fails to assert anything about reality. Cognitive meaning requires expression of beliefs and Flew adds that it must be falsifiable. Even though religious language expresses beliefs, since they are unfalsifiable beliefs, religious language fails to have cognitive meaning.
Whether falsificationism is actually any better off than verificationism
Strength: Falsificationism captures how science is actually done better than verificationism. Scientists don’t only look for verifications of a theory, they try to test and disprove it too by looking for falsifications of it.
Weakness: The falsification principle cannot be falsified and is therefore meaningless. It looks like falsificationism has this same issue as verificationism.
Evaluation: Popper responded to this criticism by claiming that falsificationism was not a criterion of meaning, just a method of distinguishing the empirical from the non-empirical.
Counter evaluation: Since Flew used falsificationism as a criterion of meaning, however, it seems he makes falsificationism vulnerable to the same criticism verificationism had.
Religious belief is falsifiable
St Paul claimed that if Jesus’ body were discovered then belief and faith in Christianity would be pointless. This suggests Flew is incorrect to think religious language is always unfalsifiable as there are at least some believers whose belief is incompatible with some logically possible state of affairs. That would show that Paul’s religious language would pass Flew’s test of falsification and so would be meaningful.
The parable of the gardener suggests, however, that if we did discover Jesus’ body, Christians including St Paul might make some excuse as to why it’s actually not a valid test after all. For example, Christians might be tempted to think that the body is a fake put there by the devil. Tempting though that is, it underlines Flew’s point that there really is no way to falsify belief in God.
Mitchell’s critique of falsificationism
Basil Mitchell argued against flew’s conclusions with the parable of the partisan. Mitchell is not happy with Flew’s characterisation of religious belief as irrationally blind to any evidence which goes against it. Mitchell argued that rather than need to say what would prove them wrong, religious belief can be said to be connected to empirical reality if it allows empirical evidence to count against it, like the problem of evil. Mitchell imagines the example of a soldier fighting for the resistance against the government in a civil war. One day someone comes to them and claims to be the leader of the resistance, on their side, but a double agent pretending to be on the other side. The soldier decides to have faith in this person, even when they see them fighting for the government. This is analogous to faith in God, despite the counter evidence of the problem of evil. Mitchell’s point is that religious people do allow empirical evidence to count against their belief, they simply judge overall to retain faith. Their belief is connected to empirical reality as a consequence however, and can therefore be said to be cognitively meaningful according to Mitchell.
Arguably Mitchell’s criteria for falsifiability are insufficient. Merely allowing evidence to count against your belief doesn’t make it falsifiable. Only being able to say what would prove it wrong, not merely count against it, makes something falsifiable. Explaining what evidence runs against your belief is not sufficient to explain what evidence could disprove your belief.
Hare & Bliks as a criticism/weakness of Verificationism & Falsificationism
R. M. Hare disagreed with Verificationism and Falsificationism, arguing that those theories had failed to truly understand how religious language functioned. They saw religious language as an expression of belief that attempts to describe reality. Since it is unverifiable or unfalsifiable, it fails to describe reality and is thus meaningless. Hare argues that if religious language was not an attempt to describe reality then it isn’t actually making a statement at all and so it wouldn’t make sense to get to the stage of calling it unverifiable or unfalsifiable.
Hare argues that religious language does not express an attempt to describe reality but is instead a non-cognitive expression of a person’s ‘Blik’, meaning their personal feelings and attitude. The expression of attitudes is not an attempt to describe the world, therefore they cannot be true or false. Hare thinks that since Bliks affect our beliefs and behaviour, they are meaningful.
Hare illustrated his theory with the example of a paranoid student who thought his professors were trying to kill him. Even when shown the evidence that they were not trying to kill him, by meeting them and seeing they were nice people, the student did not change their mind.
Hare argues this shows that what seem like rational beliefs attempting to describe reality can sometimes really be an expression of our Blik. If it were an attempt to describe the world, the meaning could be changed by that description being shown to be false. Hare concluded that the student’s belief must be rooted in a non-cognitive attitude or Blik. Religious language functions similar to this. It may appear to be cognitive on the surface, but it is actually non-cognitive.
Hare is influenced by Hume on this point. Hume argued that our reason is a ‘slave’ of our emotions. What might appear to be a rational belief rooted in evidence, could in fact be rooted in passions or personal attitudes.
Bliks might look like beliefs about the world, but ultimately they are rooted in attitudes brought to the world and thus we should understand their true meaning to be as an expression of non-cognitive attitude.
Weakness of Hare: Although Hare saves religious language from being disregarded as a meaningless failed attempt to describe the world, nonetheless he only does so by sacrificing the ability of the meaning of religious language to have any factual content. So when a religious person says ‘God exists,’ for Hare they are really expressing their attitude rather than actually claiming that there objectively exists a God. Many religious people would claim however, that they really do mean that ‘there objectively exists a God’, irrespective of their attitude. Aquinas wrote many long books attempting to prove the seemingly cognitive belief in God true. So arguably Hare fails to capture the true meaning of religious language
Evaluation: Hare could respond that although many religious people may indeed feel like they are making factual claims about reality, their conception of reality is really just an aspect of their Blick. Saying God exists therefore really serves to add psychological force and grandeur to what is actually just their attitude.
Hume’s influence on Hare
Strength of Hare: Hare was influenced by Hume. Hume seems at least sometimes correct that reason is a slave of our passions. So, that could be true for religious language. This would explain why people refuse to accept or sometimes even listen to evidence that goes against their deeply held beliefs. This would also explain religious language having an appearance of cognitive meaning while in fact being non-cognitive. It’s rarely obvious to a person that their reason is enslaved to their emotions. Humans find it so difficult to notice when their supposedly reasoned judgements are in fact a reflection of their personal emotions, prejudices, or social conditioning. The human mind is more like a lawyer than a scientist. When we have a strong feeling or prejudice, our mind creates a reason that justifies believing it and acting on it. This is called rationalisation. It could explain why religious believers think their language is expressing genuine rational belief when in fact it is not. It is actually expressing the emotions their belief is rooted in.
Weakness: Hume’s theory of human psychology is controversial. Kant famously rejected it, arguing that humans were capable of putting their emotions aside and acting out of purely rational motives. In fact Kant thought that was required for our actions to be moral. Contemporary psychologist J. Haidt thinks Hume was closer to the truth than Kant, but still think that Hume went a bit too far by saying that reason was always a slave to the emotions in moral matters. We could take the same lesson as applying to theological matters too. Religious belief clearly involves strong emotions and attitudes, but arguably it is still based on reason in some cases. For example, Flew actually changed his mind about God and became religious after being convinced by a modern version of the design argument. This suggests that although religious language might often be rooted in non-cognitive attitudes, it at least sometimes can be based on reason and thus express cognitive beliefs.
Evaluation: Examples such as Flew are extremely rare. Most religious believers simply follow the faith of their family or culture. This suggests that Hare is correct about the vast majority of cases of religious language. It could be that some religious philosophers are using religious language in an atypical way.
Wittgenstein advanced two theories of meaning in his life. The first was quite similar to verificationism however his second theory – language games – completely contradicted it.
The first theory is called the picture theory of meaning where Wittgenstein argued that words get their meaning by connecting to the world. More specifically, the logic of our language somehow connects to the logic of reality. Our words ‘picture’ reality by connecting to its logic.
Wittgenstein later in his life repudiated the idea that words got their meaning by connecting to the world and instead argued they got their meaning by connecting to social reality. A language game exists when multiple people communicate. Wittgenstein called it a ‘game’ because he argued that language games consisted of rules. In each social situation the people participating in it act in a certain way because they have internalised and are following a certain set of rules which govern behaviour including speech. Therefore, the meaning of their speech will be connected to those rules i.e to the social situation. There can be as many different language games as there can be different types of social interaction, I.e potentially unlimited. Nonetheless, they will all be differentiated by the set of rules which constitute them. The meaning of a word is not found by looking for what it refers to but by seeing how it is used.
Religious people play the religious language game. Scientists play the scientific language game. For Wittgenstein, to uproot a word from the religious language game and try to analyse it within the context of the scientific language game is to misunderstand how meaning works. Words get their meaning from the language game in which they are spoken. So it’s no surprise to Wittgenstein that Ayer finds religious language meaningless, since Ayer is not religious and therefore isn’t a participant in the religious language game as he doesn’t know the rules of it.
When Wittgenstein remarks that we have to ‘know’ the rules of a game to play it, he doesn’t necessarily mean consciously. For perhaps most of human social interaction we are following rules that we have unconsciously internalised. For that reason it can be very hard to say exactly what the rules of the religious language game are, as opposed to the scientific language game which is more cognitively formalised.
Wittgenstein argued that the scientific language game can be about reality, since it is about evidence, experience and reason, whereas the religious language game is about faith and social communities, conventions & emotions.
Wittgenstein vs traditional Christian meaning i.e., Aquinas
Strength: Wittgenstein accurately captures the way that meaning depends on social context. It does seem true that the words we use and the meaning they have depend on the social situation we are in, i.e., the rules governing the language game we are participating in.
Weakness: Language games leads to theological anti-realism. Wittgenstein fails to capture religious meaning. If Wittgenstein is right, it means that when a religious person says ‘God exists’ they aren’t actually claiming that in a scientific sense that there objectively exists a God. Really, they are just speaking in a certain way based on how they have learned to speak by internalising a set of behavioural rules developed in a culture over centuries. However, most religious people would object that they really do mean that there objectively exists a God. This point is most salient when considering the works of Aquinas who attempted to argue for the existence of God. Aquinas believes the proposition ‘God’s goodness is analogous to ours’ to be cognitively and objectively true. He doesn’t think he’s just following a social convention in saying so.
Evaluation: defence of Wittgenstein: It’s true that religious people claim to be describing reality when they say God exists, however perhaps their word ‘reality’ is informed by their religious language game and is different to the word ‘reality’ as used in the scientific language game. So when religious people like Aquinas say ‘God exists in reality’, the word ‘reality’ is actually not referring to the scientific conception of reality.
Whether Wittgenstein can explain the link between religion and science
Strength: Wittgenstein explains the link between religion and science. Religion is a matter of faith, a totally separate language game to science which is a matter of a posteriori reason.
Weakness: Scientific and religious meaning can be linked. Wittgenstein was wrong to think that scientific meaning is radically distinct from religious meaning. Arguably the scientific and religious language games can in fact be fused together. There are scientists who think that there are scientific reasons for belief in God. For example, Polkinghorne believed you could argue for God’s existence through science through the anthropic fine-tuning argument.
Evaluation: Defence of Wittgenstein: However, we could respond on behalf of Wittgenstein that this particular fusion of religion and science is really itself a unique language game, dissimilar to either the religious or scientific games. Alternatively, Polkinghorne could be argued to not be playing the scientific language game since most scientists reject his ideas.
Whether language games can explain religious differences & communication
Strength: Language games is the best explanation of religious differences. It is difficult to explain why there are so many different religions that make incompatible truth claims. It could be that one of them is true, but then why do the others exist? Whatever reason we give could equally apply to the one we think is true. It seems simpler to view religions as an expression of different language games or ‘forms of life’.
Weakness: there are elements of religious differences that Wittgenstein struggles to explain. He claims one can only understand a language game by knowing the rules. So to understand religious language one would have to be a member of that religion. However, it’s hard to explain how people manage to convert to a religion, then. It’s also hard to explain inter-faith dialogue. If we simply cannot understand the words involved in a language game we are not part of, then such things seem impossible, yet they clearly happen.
Evaluation: Arguably interfaith dialogue and conversion do not require complete proper understanding. It seems true that only a Christian can truly appreciate the depth of what it means to have faith in Christ. When they share their faith with others through dialogue, including and up to the point of converting others, those they speak to will not have a full appreciation of that meaning until and unless they become Christian themselves.
For example, an atheist can understand the idea of being grateful for someone who sacrificed their life. So, from their atheistic language game, they can gain some meaning of faith in Christ, but only through the lens of their own worldview. Wittgenstein seems correct, however, that proper understanding is only possible between people who share a language game.
Whether language games accurately describes how meaning works
Strength: language games does seem to accurately capture the way that social life works. It makes sense to think of different types of social interaction as different games and that what differentiates them is their rules. For example, consider how you would speak in a job interview verses with friends verses with family. Each social setting has rules governing what is acceptable and not acceptable. These rules will be different for different families etc, and rules are constantly changing as society changes. Nonetheless, it still seems that what people say depends on the particular language game they are speaking in.
Weakness: Dividing up human social life into different language games seems very messy. Wittgenstein’s characterisation of language games is imprecise. For example, the ‘religious’ language game can be divided into different religions. Those can often be divided, such as into the ‘Catholic’ language game. Yet, the way the congregation of one Catholic church speak to each other might be different to another congregation, perhaps due to the language game of the village/town they live in. It looks like language games actually overlap and connect in all sorts of ways which ultimately seem impossible to calculate or characterise.
Evaluation: Defence of Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein actually accepted that his theory meant that language often cannot be precise. Words do not have determinate boundaries. This is because the social games we play are themselves indeterminate and constantly changing. Scientific terms like ‘water’ can have a clear meaning as ‘H2O’. This is because scientific concepts refer to the physical world. If the rest of human meaning refers to the social world then it refers to social concepts, but they have fuzzy indeterminate boundaries. Wittgenstein pointed out how hard it is to define what a ‘chair’ is. It’s impossible to define in a way that completely separates it from all other possible things with no grey areas or edge cases. Yet, the word ‘chair’ has a meaning in our language nonetheless.
To what extent is Aquinas’ analogical view of theological language valuable in philosophy of religion?
Many Christians, especially Catholics, find it useful to think of their claims about God as cognitive even if our limited minds cannot fully understand it.
This question just requires an evaluation of Aquinas by critically comparing him to the other theories of meaning:
Ayer’s Verification. Ayer would regard analogy as unverifiable and so meaningless.
Flew’s falsification. Flew would regard analogy as unfalsifiable and so meaningless.
Mitchel responds that religious belief based on faith is still meaningful.
Hare would claim religious language is meaningful, disagreeing with Ayer and Flew but not find Aquinas’ reasoning valuable as he regards religious language as expressing a blick, not a cognition.
Wittgenstein would also disagree with Aquinas.
If these critics of Aquinas are right, then he is not valuable. If they are wrong and he is right, he is valuable.
Should the Bible be read cognitively or non-cognitively?
Possible exam questions for 20th century philosophy of language
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?
Year 12 philosophy topics:
Plato & Aristotle. Soul, Mind & Body.
Design/Teleological argument. Cosmological argument. Ontological argument.
Religious experience. Problem of evil.
Year 13 philosophy topics:
Nature & Attributes of God. Religious language. 20th Century philosophy of language.
OCR essay structure
OCR list of possible exam questions