AS Philosophy scheme of work




Linear A Level First Year



Philosophy AS

Scheme of Work

Section Topic Essay Syllabus
1 Introduction What is philosophy?
2 Descartes What is Descartes’ aim in the Meditations?
3 The tripartite view of knowledge Can there be knowledge that is not a belief? The distinction between acquaintance knowledge, ability knowledge and propositional knowledge.

The nature of definition (including Linda Zagzebski) and how propositional knowledge may be analysed/defined.
The tripartite view

4 Issues in the definition of knowledge Evaluate reliabilism. Issues with the tripartite view including:

the conditions are not individually necessary
the conditions are not sufficient – cases of lucky true beliefs (including Edmund Gettier’s original two counter examples). 

5 Direct realism How unlikely is direct realism? The immediate objects of perception are mind-independent objects and their properties. 
6 Indirect realism Are sense data real? The immediate objects of perception are mind-dependent objects (sense-data) that are caused by and represent mind-independent objects.
7 Berkeley’s idealism Evaluate reliabilism. The immediate objects of perception (ie ordinary objects such as tables, chairs, etc) are mind- dependent objects.
8 Innatism Is the mind initially a tabula rasa? Arguments from Plato (ie the ‘slave boy’ argument) and Gottfried Leibniz (ie his argument based on necessary truths). 
9 The intuition and deduction thesis Assess Leibniz’s criticisms of Locke. The meaning of ‘intuition’ and ‘deduction’ and the distinction between them.

René Descartes’ notion of ‘clear and distinct ideas’.

His cogito as an example of an a priori intuition.

His arguments for the existence of God and his proof of the external world as examples of a
priori deductions.

10 Scepticism Assess Descartes’ arguments for scepticism. Particular nature of philosophical scepticism and the distinction between philosophical scepticism and normal incredulity.

The role/function of philosophical scepticism within epistemology.

The distinction between local and global scepticism and the (possible) global application of
philosophical scepticism.

11 Responses to scepticism Evaluate responses to scepticism. Descartes’ own response

empiricist responses (Locke, Berkeley and Russell) • reliabilism.

12 Utilitarianism Explain the role and use of the hedonic calculus. The question of what is meant by ‘utility’ and ‘maximising utility’, including: 

Jeremy Bentham’s quantitative hedonistic utilitarianism (his utility calculus)

John Stuart Mill’s qualitative hedonistic utilitarianism (higher and lower pleasures) and his
‘proof’ of the greatest happiness principle

non-hedonistic utilitarianism (including preference utilitarianism)

act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.

13 Kantian deontological ethics Explain the role and use of the categorical imperative. Immanuel Kant’s account of what is meant by a ‘good will’.

The distinction between acting in accordance with duty and acting out of duty.

The distinction between hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives.

The first formulation of the categorical imperative (including the distinction between a
contradiction in conception and a contradiction in will).

The second formulation of the categorical imperative.

14 Aristotelian virtue ethics Explain the role and use of eudaimonia in Aristotle’s ethics. ‘The good’ for human beings: the meaning of Eudaimonia as the ‘final end’ and the relationship between Eudaimonia and pleasure.

The function argument and the relationship between virtues and function.

Aristotle’s account of virtues and vices: virtues as character traits/dispositions; the role of
education/habituation in the development of a moral character; the skill analogy; the importance of feelings; the doctrine of the mean and its application to particular virtues.

15 Issues with Aristotelian ethics How far does virtue ethics provide useful ethical guidance? whether Aristotelian virtue ethics can give sufficiently clear guidance about how to act

clashing/competing virtues

the possibility of circularity involved in defining virtuous acts and virtuous persons in terms of
each other

whether a trait must contribute to Eudaimonia in order to be a virtue; the relationship between
the good for the individual and moral good.

16 Applied ethics I Which ethical theory deals best with the problem of simulated killing? stealing

simulated killing (within computer games, plays, films etc) 

17 Applied ethics II Which ethical theory deals best with problems of treatment of animals? eating animals

telling lies.

18 Moral realism Can intuitionism solve the problems of naturalism? Moral naturalism (cognitivist) – including naturalist forms of utilitarianism (including Bentham) and of virtue ethics.

Moral non-naturalism (cognitivist) – including intuitionism and Moore’s ‘open question argument’ against all reductive metaethical theories and the Naturalistic Fallacy.

19 Moral anti-realism Evaluate Mackie’s error theory. There are no mind-independent moral properties/facts.

error theory (cognitivist) – Mackie

emotivism (non-cognitivist) – Ayer

prescriptivism (non-cognitivist) – Richard Hare.

20 Terminology Distinguish analytic fro synthetic propositions. assertion/claim, proposition



a priori/a posteriori









21 Argument Distinguish inductive from deductive arguments. identify argument within text

identify the structure of an argument: premises (including assumptions), reasons, conclusions
(including sub-conclusions) and inferences

identify different forms of argument – including deduction and induction (including abduction) –
and be able to analyse and evaluate arguments in ways appropriate to their form (including in
terms of validity/invalidity, soundness/unsoundness, certainty/probability) 

recognise and deal appropriately with different types of arguments/reasoning, including
arguments from analogy and hypothetical reasoning (including the use of Ockham’s Razor)

recognise and deal appropriately with flaws in argument, including circularity, contradictions,
question-begging and other fallacies

use examples and counter-examples

generate arguments, objections and counter-arguments.

22 Epistemology review Theories of perception
23 Epistemology review Empiricism and rationalism
24 Ethics review Theories
25 Ethics review Applications
26 Revision Prepared essays
27 Revision Prepared essays
28 Revision Prepared essays
29 Revision Prepared essays
30 Revision Prepared essays
31 Revision Prepared essays