1st Edition

Philosophy for AS and A Level Epistemology and Moral Philosophy

By Michael Lacewing Copyright 2017
    478 Pages
    by Routledge

    458 Pages
    by Routledge

    Philosophy for AS and A Level is an accessible textbook for the new 2017 AQA Philosophy syllabus. Structured closely around the AQA specification this textbook covers the two units shared by the AS and A Level, Epistemology and Moral Philosophy, in an engaging and student-friendly way. With chapters on 'How to do philosophy', exam preparation providing students with the philosophical skills they need to succeed, and an extensive glossary to support understanding, this book is ideal for students studying philosophy.

    Each chapter includes:

    • argument maps that help to develop student’s analytical and critical skills
    • comprehension questions to test understanding
    • discussion questions to generate evaluative argument
    • explanation and commentary on the AQA set texts
    • ‘Thinking harder’ sections
    • cross-references to help students make connections
    • bullet-point summaries of each topic.

    The companion website hosts a wealth of further resources, including PowerPoint slides, flashcards, further reading, weblinks and handouts, all structured to accompany the textbook. It can be found at www.routledge.com/cw/alevelphilosophy.




      How to use this book

      How to do philosophy

      Following the syllabus

      Additional features

      Using the anthology


      Companion website and further resources


      1 How to do philosophy

      Philosophical argument

      Deductive argument

      Inductive argument

      Hypothetical reasoning

      Understanding arguments and argument maps

      Evaluating arguments

      Evaluating claims

      An aside: why reason?


      Reading philosophy

      Approaching the text

      Engaging with the text

      Beyond the text

      Writing philosophy

      What you need to know

      Planning an essay

      Writing an essay

      A standard essay structure

      General advice

      2 Epistemology

      I. What is knowledge?

      A. Knowledge and its definition

      Types of knowledge

      Propositional knowledge

      The definition of knowledge

      The purpose and nature of definition

      Can propositional knowledge be defined?

      Key points: knowledge and its definition

      B. The tripartite view

      The tripartite definition of knowledge

      Why justified true belief?

      Thinking harder: A note on certainty

      Are the conditions individually necessary?

      Justification is not a necessary condition of knowledge

      Truth is not a necessary condition of knowledge

      Belief is not a necessary condition of knowledge

      Gettier’s objection: are the conditions jointly sufficient?

      Key points: the tripartite view

      C. Responses

      Add a ‘no false lemmas’ condition (J+T+B+N)


      Thinking harder: rejecting the argument for infallibilism

      Reliabilism (R+T+B)

      Truth and the third condition

      Virtue epistemology (V+T+B)

      Zagzebski’s analysis of knowledge

      Key points: Responses

      Summary: What is knowledge?

      II. Perception as a source of knowledge

      A. Direct realism

      The argument from perceptual variation


      The argument from illusion

      Thinking harder: the argument from hallucination

      The disjunctive theory of perception

      The time-lag argument

      Thinking harder: direct realism and openness

      Key points: direct realism

      B. Indirect realism

      What are sense-data?

      Why indirect realism?

      Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities

      Scepticism about the existence of mind-independent objects

      The existence of the external world is the best hypothesis

      Two supporting arguments

      Thinking harder: the existence of mind-independent objects is not a hypothesis

      Representation, resemblance and the nature of physical objects

      Berkeley’s argument that mind-dependent ideas cannot be like mind-independent objects

      Key points: indirect realism

      C. Berkeley’s idealism

      Berkeley on primary and secondary qualities

      Berkeley on secondary qualities

      Berkeley’s attack on the primary/secondary quality distinction

      The immediate objects of perception are mind-dependent objects

      Three arguments against mind-independent objects

      Berkeley’s ‘master’ argument

      Idealism and God

      Thinking harder: idealism and the cause of our perceptions

      Issues with Berkeley’s idealism

      Problems with the role played by God in Berkeley’s idealism

      Arguments from illusion and hallucination

      Idealism leads to solipsism

      Key points: Berkeley’s idealism

      Summary: perception as a source of knowledge


      III. Reason as a source of knowledge

      Rationalism, empiricism and innatism

      A priori/a posteriori knowledge

      Analytic/synthetic propositions

      Necessary/contingent truth

      Defining rationalism, empiricism and innatism

      Key points: rationalism, empiricism and innatism

      A. Innatism

      Two arguments for innate knowledge

      Plato’s slave boy argument

      Leibniz on knowledge of necessary truths

      Locke’s arguments against innate knowledge

      Leibniz’s response to Locke

      Thinking harder: experience triggers innate knowledge

      Alternative empiricist accounts

      Locke’s argument against innate concepts

      Rejecting Locke’s definition of ‘innate concept’

      Leibniz’s defence of innate concepts

      The mind as a ‘tabula rasa’

      Locke’s two sources of concepts

      Hume on impressions and ideas

      Simple and complex concepts

      Issues with the empiricist theory of concepts

      Thinking harder: challenging the copy principle

      Leibniz on ‘intellectual ideas’

      Thinking harder: the concept of substance


      Key points: innatism

      B. The intuition and deduction thesis

      Rationalism and empiricism revisited

      The meaning of ‘intuition’ and ‘deduction’

      Empiricist alternatives

      Hume’s fork

      Descartes’ theory of rational intuition

      The cogito

      Clear and distinct ideas

      Empiricist responses to the cogito

      Clear and distinct ideas and God

      Descartes’ Trademark argument

      Thinking harder: degrees of reality

      Empiricist responses to the Trademark argument

      Descartes’ cosmological argument

      Empiricist responses to Descartes’ cosmological argument

      Descartes’ ontological argument

      Empiricist responses to Descartes’ ontological argument

      Descartes’ proof of the external world

      The concept of a physical object

      Thinking harder: The existence of physical objects

      Empiricist responses to Descartes’ proof of the external world

      Key points: the intuition and deduction thesis

      Summary: reason as a source of knowledge

      IV. The limits of knowledge

      A. Philosophical scepticism

      The particular nature of philosophical scepticism

      Am I a brain in a vat?

      The distinction between philosophical scepticism and normal incredulity

      Local and global scepticism

      Descartes’ sceptical arguments

      Key points: philosophical scepticism

      B. Responses to scepticism

      Descartes’ own response

      Empiricist responses

      Thinking harder: Direct realism

      Thinking harder: Reliabilism

      Key points: responses to scepticism

      Summary: the limits of knowledge

      3 Moral Philosophy

      I. Normative ethical theories

      A. Utilitarianism

      Bentham’s quantitative hedonistic utilitarianism

      ‘The Principle of Utility’

      ‘Measuring Pleasure and Pain’

      Mill on utilitarianism

      Mill’s qualitative hedonistic utilitarianism

      Is pleasure the only good?

      Smart on hedonistic and non-hedonistic utilitarianism

      Nozick’s experience machine

      Preference utilitarianism

      Mill’s ‘proof’ of utilitarianism

      Stage 1: Happiness is good

      Stage 2: Only happiness is good

      Issues for (act) utilitarianism

      Problems with calculation

      Fairness, individual liberty and rights


      Moral integrity and the individual’s intentions

      Rule utilitarianism

      Smart on rule utilitarianism

      Rule utilitarianism developed


      Key points: utilitarianism

      B. Kantian deontological ethics


      Kant’s account of the good will and duty

      The good will

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

      Thinking harder: The good will again

      The categorical imperative

      Hypothetical and categorical imperatives

      Thinking harder: Contradiction in conception and contradiction in will

      The second formulation of the Categorical Imperative

      Issues for Kantian deontological ethics

      Universalisability and morality

      Conflicts between duties

      The view that consequences of actions determine their moral value

      Morality is a system of hypothetical imperatives

      The value of certain motives

      Key points: Kantian deontological ethics

      C. Aristotelian virtue ethics

      The good for human beings


      Final ends

      The function argument

      Testing the analysis

      Thinking harder: the rational ‘soul’

      Aristotle’s account of virtues

      Virtues as character traits

      Virtues, the doctrine of the mean and the importance of feelings

      The role of education in the development of a moral character

      Practical wisdom

      The role of practical wisdom

      The relation between practical wisdom, virtue and action

      Key points: Aristotelian virtue ethics (I)

      Eudaimonia, pleasure and philosophy

      Eudaimonia and pleasure

      Eudaimonia and philosophy

      Voluntary action, choice and moral responsibility

      Voluntary and involuntary actions

      Choice and deliberation

      Thinking harder: moral responsibility


      Issues for Aristotelian virtue ethics

      Guidance on how to act

      Conflicts between virtues

      The possibility of circularity involved in defining virtuous acts and
      virtuous people in terms of each other

      Thinking harder: Virtue and eudaimonia

      Key points: Aristotelian virtue ethics (II)

      Summary: normative ethical theories

      II. Applied ethics



      Kantian deontology

      Aristotelian virtue ethics

      Eating animals


      Kantian deontology

      Aristotle, Diamond and virtue ethics

      Simulated killing

      Playing the killer

      An audience’s perspective

      Telling lies


      Kantian deontology

      Aristotelian virtue ethics

      Key points: applied ethics

      Summary: applied ethics

      III. Metaethics

      What is metaethics?

      The origins of moral principles: reason, emotion/attitudes, or society

      The distinction between cognitivism and non-cognitivism

      Key points: The distinction between cognitivism and non-cognitivism

      A. Moral realism

      From cognitivism to moral realism

      Moral naturalism

      Utilitarianism as naturalism

      Thinking harder: naturalism in virtue ethics

      Moral non-naturalism: Moore’s intuitionism

      The naturalistic fallacy

      The open question argument

      Thinking harder: is the ‘naturalistic fallacy’ a real fallacy?



      Issues for moral realism

      A J Ayer’s verification principle

      The argument from Hume’s fork

      Hume’s argument from motivation

      Hume’s is-ought gap

      Mackie’s argument from relativity

      Mackie’s arguments from queerness

      Key points: moral realism

      B. Moral anti-realism

      Error theory

      Non-cognitivism and moral anti-realism


      Emotivism and subjectivism

      Ayer’s defence

      Emotivism after Ayer


      Prescriptive meaning


      Moral language

      Issues for moral anti-realism

      Can moral anti-realism account for how we use moral language?

      Thinking harder: disagreement and moral argument

      Whether moral anti-realism becomes moral nihilism

      Moral progress

      Key points: moral anti-realism

      Metaethics and applied ethics

      Summary: metaethics

      4 Preparing for the exam

      The examination

      The structure of the exam

      Assessment objectives

      Understanding the question: giving the examiners what they are looking for

      Short-answer questions

      Nine-mark questions

      Fifteen-mark questions

      Revision: it’s more than memory

      Exam technique: getting the best result you can

      Revision tips

      Exam tips

      Glossary (with Joanne Lovesey)

      Index by syllabus content

      Subject index



      Michael Lacewing is a teacher of philosophy and theology at Christ’s Hospital school, and a former Reader in Philosophy and Vice-Principal Academic at Heythrop College, University of London. He is founder of the company A Level Philosophy (www.alevelphilosophy.co.uk), and advises the British Philosophical Association on matters related to philosophy in schools.



      'Michael Lacewing writes in an engaging way and really brings the A-Level philosophy syllabus to life; he focuses not only on the content but on the philosophical method itself. An essential read for any A-Level philosophy student'.

      Cressida Tweed, teacher of philosophy at Woodhouse College and Lead philosophy tutor at the National Extension college, UK.