1st Edition

Philosophy for A2: Unit 3 Key Themes in Philosophy, 2008 AQA Syllabus

By Michael Lacewing Copyright 2010
    384 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    384 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Philosophy for A2: Unit 3 is the definitive textbook for students of the current AQA Advanced Level syllabus. Structured very closely around the AQA specifications for Unit 3: Key Themes in Philosophy, it introduces the student to each of the core themes:

    • philosophy of mind
    • political philosophy
    • epistemology and metaphysics
    • moral philosophy
    • philosophy of religion.

    All chapters are helpfully subdivided into short digestible passages, and include:

    • quiz questions to test core knowledge
    • discussion questions to deepen understanding 
    • 'going further' sections for advanced study 
    • text boxes highlighting key definitions and arguments 
    • cross-references to help students make connections 
    • lively illustrations, diagrams and a glossary.

    In addition, a chapter on exam preparation contains a wealth of helpful hints and tips on revision and exam techniques.

    Written by an experienced philosopher and A Level consultant, Philosophy for A2: Unit 3 is an essential companion for all students of A2 Level philosophy.


    Ch. 1 Philosophy of mind
    Substance dualism
    Reductive acccounts of the mind
    Non-reductive materialism

    Ch. 2 Political philosophy
    Human nature and political organisation
    Nation states

    Ch. 3 Epistemology and metaphysics
    The refutation of scepticism
    Knowledge, belief and justification
    Universals and particulars
    Objective knowledge

    Ch. 4 Moral philosophy
    Moral truth
    The denial of moral truth
    Moral decisions

    Ch. 5 Philosophy of religion
    Arguments for the existence of God
    Reason and faith
    Making sense of religion

    Ch. 6 Preparing for the exam
    Exam technique



    Michael Lacewing is Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He is founder of the company A Level Philosophy, and a consultant on philosophy at A Level for the British Philosophical Association.

    'Michael Lacewing has the rare talent of making accessible the most difficult and abstract philosophical material. Here he examines, with his characteristic academic rigour and clarity, the five themes specified in Unit 3 of the AQA specification. He presents a lucid and comprehensive discussion of each, closely following the requirements of the specification. The reader is encouraged to undertake a systematic study of the themes, making cross references and connections across the topics and themes on offer, and so to engage deeply with the material in order to develop the essential skills for critical assessment.

    I highly recommend this book to all students of Philosophy.'

    Dr Andrew Rowley, Head of Philosophy, Bedford Modern School


    'This latest A level Philosophy book by Michael Lacewing introduces the content of AQA’s A2 Philosophy course in an accessible and user-friendly fashion. The introduction to the book gives a brief and clear guide to using the book which will be useful to staff and students alike.

    A real strength of this book is the language and style in which it has been written; it is accessible and in a format that will be familiar to students who have used Michael Lacewing’s AS Philosophy textbook, which is also published by Routledge. One of the excellent features of the book is the fact that it presents complex and nuanced philosophical positions and debates in a lucid, comprehensive and scholarly manner. Students will find the book to be an accessible guide to studying and doing Philosophy on their A level course.

    The book covers all the themes of Unit 3 of AQA specification, devoting a sizable amount of space to each theme. Within the chapters on each theme good use is made of sub-headings, side margin features and stretch and challenge boxes to both enhance and extend the reader’s learning. Each chapter addresses the specific issues raised by the content of the topic under consideration in an appealing and student-friendly fashion, such as the most helpful section on ‘Answering exam questions on practical ethics’ in the Moral Philosophy chapter, the nuanced discussion of Liberalism and Conservatism and the precise discussion of the complex relationship between philosophical positions in the Philosophy of Mind.

    The final chapter of the book provides an excellent set of useful helps and tips on preparing for the examination. If followed, the advice regarding revision techniques, understanding the examination questions and examination technique will be most beneficial for students.

    The accessible style of this book coupled with its nuanced and full coverage of the AQA syllabus suggests that this book will be a most important textbook for both students and teachers. The clarity of the explanations of complex philosophical debates will make this book an invaluable aid to students and teachers alike.'

    Matthew Taylor, Head of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Colchester County High School for Girls


    'Michael Lacewing has rightly established a reputation as "Mr A Level Philosophy." He is uniquely placed to fulfil this role. As a practising professional philosopher teaching and researching at Heythrop College, London University he has an up to date and thorough knowledge of the subject. As a gifted teacher and expositor with many years of experience of running conferences for 6th form students he has an enviable gift for explaining complex ideas simply and clearly.

    He writes lucidly and has the unerring capacity for finding vivid and revealing examples and illustrations which make abstract ideas accessible and easy to comprehend. The material is superbly structured and set out with simple expositions followed by summaries of key points and then followed by extension passages with more developed and advanced discussions. Thus beginners are led by simple progression through an understanding of the basics to a more advanced grasp of a problem or theme. Expositions and explanations of key ideas are then supplemented with a balanced discussion of key strengths and weaknesses. The book is a model of popular philosophical writing at its very best. As a text book it is ideal: the most able students will benefit from the extended discussions and less confident students will find that the simpler introductory expositions succeed in making even challenging ideas simple and easy to comprehend. Though clearly aimed at A level students the book will serve and deserve a wider audience. Undergraduates will find it an ideal resource for authoritative and up to date summaries of the most recent philosophical literature on these themes and topics. Likewise busy teachers of Philosophy will find this a reliable and time saving resource. For clarity and reliability there is simply no better introduction to Philosophy at this level. If you are to buy only one book then look no further: this is the one!'

    Geoff Willis, Head of Philosophy, City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College