Torbjorn66
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I'm looking for some examples of very high grade philosophy essays, I'm aiming to study philosophy at Cambridge and thus I'm looking to get as close to 100UMS in my AS exams. My reason for this request is that my teacher marks my essays harshly (so I feel) and I would like a sort of reference to other peoples work that has been marked (either officially or just reliably) so I can gauge whether I am genuinely getting consistently worse marks in Philosophy AS than in other subjects (for instance consistent 90+% in maths, further maths and religious studies). My marks in philosophy are around the 80% mark generally but I put a lot of effort into the essays and feel like I'm not getting much out of it. Anyway, the request is can anyone offer me some examples of AS level answers to any of the modules - God and the World, The Idea of God, Reason and Experience, Free Will and Determinism - that are over 90%?

Thanks a lot!
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dancinginrainbows
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I've sent you a few
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FullMetalX
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(Original post by dancinginrainbows)
I've sent you a few
Can you send them to me as well please? Thanks!!!!
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dancinginrainbows
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^ Done
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Joseph1994
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Does anybody have any model responses for either 'Philosophy of Religion' or 'Religious Ethics' (OCR)? Really not liking Philosophy and Ethics at this moment in time :rolleyes:
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Sheo
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(Original post by dancinginrainbows)
^ Done
I'm sorry to bother you, but if you have any essays particularly for reason and experience or any other model essays, could you by any chance send me them? much appreciated I shall rep you, sir! not that it's worth anything..
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number23
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Does anyone have these for the OCR philosophy of religion/religious ethics course?
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AlexoEx0
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(Original post by dancinginrainbows)
I've sent you a few
end a couple of essays my way mate if you will, I am also wanting to get 90+ UMS score in my philosophy;

Anything on:

Reason and Experience,
Morality,
Knowledge and the External world, and
Free Will and Determinism

Thanks in advance!
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Torbjorn66
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What do people think this essay would get?



“Assess the claim that the religious point of view is not to be understood as a hypothesis”
A hypothesis is an inference from an observed event, using evidence you have, to postulate an unobserved cause of that event. This type of inference is used to work out the best explanation of an event, such as a murder case to work out the most probably murderer. Traditionally God is viewed as the “unseen cause” that brings about the “event” which is time and space, the evidence for this being the order, structure, design of the universe. The important things that define a hypothesis are verfifiability and falsifiability: whether an inference can be proven true or false respectively. AJ Ayer argues that religion is not a hypothesis because it cannot be proven true, even in principle; a timeless, transcendent, immaterial God can never be empirically verified and thus is not a hypothesis. Popper argued, I think more importantly, that falsifiability is what makes an inference a meaningful hypothesis: if we never accept any evidence against God’s existence, even in principle, then God’s existence is not a hypothesis.
If this is true then what is belief in God? Wittgenstein introduces the idea of the phenomenon of “seeing as” or gestalt. This is where an image can be interpreted in two different ways but there is only one image (see fig 1). This translates to religious belief because it could be said that religious language is just another way of “seeing as”, like the physicist sees atoms: the priest sees a world created by God. Now this is contentious because it promotes an anti-realist view about truth, that no-one is ever objectively right or wrong with a proposition but that these propositions merely assert something from a certain view. In Kantian terms this view lets us have knowledge about the phenomenal world (how things are to us) but the noumenal world (the truly mind-independent reality) is never accessible to us.
The religious believer may argue that because not everyone has this conceptual scheme that religion is claimed to be, that the notion of “seeing as” doesn’t work and God really is a hypothesis. But Wittgenstein argues that it is all about language games: the semantics of a word lie in its utility which is introduced through upbringing. Religious believers are often taught religious “beliefs” from an early age and this means that they develop the conceptual scheme. It seems the realist theist is on the backfoot trying to defend a more substantial form of theism where God is a hypothesis, as Wittgenstein’s explanation satisfy the phenomena of psychology and language, where believers’ “God” is a part of the psychology i.e. it fits with the view of modern psychology.
To conclude, it is usually the case that religious language is supposed (says the realist theist) to be understood as a hypothesis; but, as DZ Philips believed, religious is better explained as a language game based on a way of life introduced as a conceptual scheme. This would mean that theism is less substantial, but has the more destructive effect of reducing all views to anti-realist claims.


Any thoughts? Thanks!
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User722716
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What do people think this essay would get?
No idea what it would get, but:

- A hypothesis isn't really an inference, and doesn't necessarily need to be about the cause of an observed event (though often they will be). It's also quite opaque what you mean by 'best explanation'.

- Try not to say what you think is important without giving reasons, or at least acknowledging that you're omitting them. Just saying "I think Popper is more important than Ayer" isn't much use.

- Name dropping is not your friend. Ayer, Popper, Wittgenstein, Kant and Philips (whoever he is) give you far too much exposition work to do, which is probably why you don't actually argue a great deal. You also end up leaving just far too many stones unturned - what are the problems with the verification principle and why is falsificationalism better, is Wittgenstein's theory of semantics actually a good one and if so is it really applicable here...

- Try to steer away from big, cloudy terms like 'semantics', 'utility', 'verifiability', 'conceptual scheme' and the like. If you do include them be much more explicit about what you mean by them (people don't always mean the same things), but that takes a lot of time in a short essay so try to use as few as possible.

- Don't introduce anything new in your conclusion. Definitely don't introduce any new names!

- Argue more - WHY is religion better explained as...? Avoid making unjustified claims, and don't use "such and such said so" as justification, it's technically a fallacy.
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KRoss
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(Original post by dancinginrainbows)
^ Done
Could you send me any on Reason and Experience? Really struggling to understand this topic! Thanks!!!
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dancinginrainbows
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I'll post a few here since they are in such high demand... all Reason and Experience.

‘All ideas derive from the sense experiences which they copy’. Discuss (30)

This statement presents Hume’s strongly empiricist view of the process through which we acquire knowledge. He said that ‘sense experiences’ are direct experiences we have of the world around us, whereas ‘ideas’ are ‘copies’ of these experiences, which are stored within our minds as memories. An example of this process would be if there was a bear in front of me. I would have a sense experience of this bear, and then once the bear was gone I would have an ‘idea’ of it stored in my mind. It describes the way in which we seem to remember the things we experience and so appears to be a reasonable explanation of how we acquire knowledge.

One criticism of this statement can be found in questioning the extent to which ideas are actually ‘copies’ of impressions. Ideas can clearly not be exact copies of impressions, as irregularities can be found in our memories and our ideas of things can change over time. While we are ill the pain can feel almost unbearable, but once we are well again it lessens, leaving an idea that is not an exact copy of the original impression. We can also not find enjoyment in something, such as milk, for a long period of time, but then on tasting it again we could find a sudden liking for it. This means that, since the substance of milk has not changed, our ideas can change without our impressions doing so also. An interesting idea that follows from this is that if it is true that all of our ideas are faded or tarnished copies of sense experiences, or that the sense experiences were simply not the same as the outside world, and it is true that sense experiences are the basis of our knowledge as empiricists believe, we may then have no true knowledge.

Also, as humans we can have only a limited range of sense experiences. For example, we cannot feel electronic fields and our eyes can only process a certain range of light, so our experience of the world is incomplete. If we cannot experience certain sensations, we could be a vast amount of information that we are exposed to but cannot experience. If knowledge has its basis in experience and our experience is truly this limited, there must be similar limits to our knowledge. We also all have slightly different sense experiences from each other as we all have slightly different overall experiences in life. This suggests that we cannot share the same ideas, which again suggests that there is no universal knowledge, leaving us globally sceptical and not even sure of our own ‘knowledge’.

A further criticism of this statement is that there are some ideas which seem to be ‘innate’ or ‘a priori’ which do not derive from sense experiences. We can understand the concept of a perfect circle even though due to its infinite nature it would be very, very unlikely for us to ever experience one in the real world. If there are ideas which are not copies of, or do not derive from, sense experiences, then this statement is false.
There is also simply not enough evidence to support this view, at least under its own terms. We have surely never had a sense experience of ‘sense data’ (an intermediary stage between impressions and ideas suggested by the need for the ideas to ‘copy’ the impressions) or this process as a whole, and so we cannot prove it. Where exactly are sense data? Also, if it is true that some ideas do exist a priori, then ‘all ideas’ do not come from sense experiences. It is also a very restrictive a view of our acquisition of knowledge that finds through believing in only what we experience that we cannot be sure of anything at all, as many or all of our ideas are faded copies of the original impressions. This would be no criticism if there were any sure way of proving it to be true, but it appears to reject the certainty of the a priori, or simply some level of universality, in favour of fallible copies of reality.

Explain and illustrate two ways in which it is possible to have a priori knowledge.

A priori knowledge is knowledge that is known before experience. Kant defined two types of a priori propositions; those that are ‘analytically’ true (true by definition, eg. ‘all bachelors are unmarried men’), and those that are ‘synthetically’ true (where the predicate of a statement is entirely separate from the subject, eg. ‘Nothing can be coloured in different ways at the same time with respect to the same part of itself.’).
Taking a nativist approach, language acquisition is something that could be seen as constituting a priori knowledge, with a possibility of a game theory style progression to how a child learns language. Chomsky’s poverty of the stimulus argument asserts that the data presented to children by outside stimulus (eg. their parents) is not sufficient to amount to knowledge of a language. Although the provability, refutability, or simply the truth of the theories of poverty of the stimulus and universal grammar are widely disputed, they strongly suggest that a priori knowledge of syntax and grammar are possible.

Other things are believed by some to be a priori knowledge. For example, Descartes claimed that the truths of maths were true even in his dreams. If we are to take a Kantian approach the truths of maths are to be seen as synthetically a priori. However, taking a logical positivist approach they appear to be analytically true; a square is the only possible shape with four sides of equal length, an a priori truth that is revealed to us by exposure to four congruent lines. Another example of this can be seen in Plato’s Meno, where Socrates puts a series of questions about the properties of a square to one of Meno’s slaves, who shows knowledge of the fact that the area of a square with sides of any length x is x^2.

Critically assess the view that all knowledge comes from, and is justified by, sense experience.

Empiricists believe that the basis for our knowledge is sense experience. Hume believed that the acquisition of our knowledge can be divided in to two stages; ‘sense impressions’ and ‘ideas’. ‘Sense impressions’ are our immediate impressions of the world around us, and last as long as our experience. ‘Ideas’ are memories of or thoughts about these impressions. Hume called knowledge derived from sense experience ‘matters of fact’, and claimed that all things such as the truths of maths are simply ‘relations of ideas’, unrelated to the real world and thus not true knowledge. An example of knowledge that comes from, and is justified by sense experience is that during the winter in England, the weather is cold. This knowledge has been gained as the idea of it being cold in winter in England has been reinforced each time a winter in England has been experienced. The view that at least some of our knowledge comes from and is justified by sense experience appears, then, to be founded in some truth. However, this does not extent to the assertion that all knowledge is gained through sense experiences.

There is great reason to believe there to be some discrepancy between actual ‘matters of fact’ – the real properties of existing matter – and our sense experiences of such things. Human beings are not in possession of every sense, and so are unable to experience everything. What may appear to us to be one way may seem entirely different to another species of animal, and without being able to have the proof of every sense, it is impossible to know whether the data we are receiving about any object is an accurate representation of it. This makes it very difficult to ‘justify’ our knowledge with our sense experiences, and to extend the empiricist view to ‘all’ knowledge.

Another criticism of this view is that there is also some level of discrepancy between our sense impressions and our ideas. When we are experiencing something, its properties are much clearer to us than when we remember it (for example, many mothers’ views of giving birth are greatly tinted by their views of having a child). If this principle extends to all of our ideas, what we consider to be ‘knowledge’ gained through sense experience holds little more truth than the end result of a game of Chinese whispers.

Contrastingly to the stated strongly empiricist view, a rationalist would argue that a priori knowledge is possible and can be seen in language acquisition and the truths of maths, countering the belief that all knowledge is derived from sense experience. If a priori knowledge is possible, then the stated view is false as it claims that all knowledge comes from sense experience. In fact, few empiricists would argue that experience is the only foundation for all of our knowledge: most would claim that it is simply where the majority of knowledge comes from.

Explain what is meant by a priori and explain one reason why the a priori is philosophically significant (15)

The phrase ‘a priori’ literally means ‘from what is before’, and a priori knowledge is knowledge known prior to experience. An a priori truth can be known simply through an understanding of the axioms or terms that we are given. For example, as we do not need to conduct a survey all of the bachelors in the world to find out that they are unmarried men, the fact that ‘all bachelors are unmarried men’ is, as Kant would call it, an analytic a priori truth. Another example of an a priori truth, although Kant would dispute its definition as analytic, is that ‘2 + 2 = 4’. A logical positivist would say that the answer is in the very meaning of ‘2’, ‘4’, ‘+’ and ‘=’. This answer cannot be disputed without contradiction as the numbers are defined by their relationships with each other. Also, in the field of psychology, nativists such as Chomsky would say that there are certain abilities that exist in us a priori, such as the ability to learn grammar. It is suggested that grammar would be impossible to learn if the only source of it were the data presented to children by other people, as it is so complex.

The a priori is philosophically significant because it forms the basis of rationalist thought. A rationalist would say that a priori propositions cannot be refuted, or doubted, in the same way as truths which derive from the senses. Descartes, through his method of doubt, is seen to have come upon an unquestionable a priori truth as he found his own existence was indubitable. If the only things we are sure of are our own thoughts, it follows that we can only be sure of a priori truths as they are free from the doubt we must place upon external situations (as we could be being deceived about them). If a priori knowledge is certain it is a strong, unquestionable basis for our knowledge.
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KRoss
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Thank you - really appreciate it!
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Torbjorn66
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(Original post by User722716)
No idea what it would get, but:

- A hypothesis isn't really an inference, and doesn't necessarily need to be about the cause of an observed event (though often they will be). It's also quite opaque what you mean by 'best explanation'.

- Try not to say what you think is important without giving reasons, or at least acknowledging that you're omitting them. Just saying "I think Popper is more important than Ayer" isn't much use.

- Name dropping is not your friend. Ayer, Popper, Wittgenstein, Kant and Philips (whoever he is) give you far too much exposition work to do, which is probably why you don't actually argue a great deal. You also end up leaving just far too many stones unturned - what are the problems with the verification principle and why is falsificationalism better, is Wittgenstein's theory of semantics actually a good one and if so is it really applicable here...

- Try to steer away from big, cloudy terms like 'semantics', 'utility', 'verifiability', 'conceptual scheme' and the like. If you do include them be much more explicit about what you mean by them (people don't always mean the same things), but that takes a lot of time in a short essay so try to use as few as possible.

- Don't introduce anything new in your conclusion. Definitely don't introduce any new names!

- Argue more - WHY is religion better explained as...? Avoid making unjustified claims, and don't use "such and such said so" as justification, it's technically a fallacy.


If a hypothesis is not that then what is it? I am just going exactly on what I have been taught in that example...

As for the reason I think falsificationism is more important it is briefly outlined in the end of the sentence, that unfalsifiable theories will not accept any evidence against them even in theory, which is clearly a more serious problem than not being able to empirically prove something in theory.

As for "name dropping" I disagree, I feel that it is important to show where the ideas originate from and that you know actual philosophers. At least I feel that would be important in real philosophical writing so why not do it in an exam.

Those aren't cloudy terms to philosophers, in fact they are philosophical terms... You get marked on using "jargon" in the right context

I agree I wouldn't intentionally add some new ideas in my conclusion, and arguing more is a fair comment which I will try and improve I do tend to have too many ideas and feel under pressure to write them all in 30 minutes so I don't always argue as much as I could. Also DZ Phillips is/was an anti-realist christian believer who is actually quite famous as an interpreter of Wittgenstein's work so I believe.
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User722716
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(Original post by Torbjorn66)
If a hypothesis is not that then what is it? I am just going exactly on what I have been taught in that example...
Any yet to be proven guess, essentially. It's debatable what causal force the laws of physics and the like can have, is why I would shy away from talking in terms of causation. For example, if I observe a stone falling at the same rate as a piece of paper and form the hypothesis "mass does not affect rate of descent due to gravity" that might be said to be more of a generalised description of what I have seen than a cause of what I have seen. Just be careful with loaded terminology.

As for the reason I think falsificationism is more important it is briefly outlined in the end of the sentence, that unfalsifiable theories will not accept any evidence against them even in theory, which is clearly a more serious problem than not being able to empirically prove something in theory.
That's not clear at all I'm afraid. It's a matter of many decades of debate, isn't it a bit weird to think that you're able to end that debate in half a sentence? You can't. But that's ok - I can't, and nor can anyone else. Try to be realistic about what you can achieve, and honest about your work's shortcomings. That will count in your favour because it's evidence of clear, critical thought.

As for "name dropping" I disagree, I feel that it is important to show where the ideas originate from and that you know actual philosophers. At least I feel that would be important in real philosophical writing so why not do it in an exam.
Crediting your sources is of paramount importance, neglecting to do so is plagiarism. My point is, use fewer sources. Real philosophical articles regularly run to 10000 words plus only referring to one other writer, there's absolutely no shame whatsoever in that.

Those aren't cloudy terms to philosophers, in fact they are philosophical terms... You get marked on using "jargon" in the right context
Yes, they are. Many philosophical terms are cloudy. Off the top of my head Grice and Jackson probably disagree on how to use 'semantics', 'utility' is used in different ways by many different ethicists. You simply must define your terms - this is again something that any contemporary 'real' article will do without shame. I'm sure you will get marked on using terminology well but a hugely important part of that is introducing it properly.

Also, the standard advice markers give is to pitch your work at someone who is philosophically educated but not familiar with your area. I don't myself know what 'conceptual scheme' means (not my area!) and I need you to tell me that, I shouldn't have to have SEP open while I'm reading your work.

I agree I wouldn't intentionally add some new ideas in my conclusion, and arguing more is a fair comment which I will try and improve I do tend to have too many ideas and feel under pressure to write them all in 30 minutes so I don't always argue as much as I could. Also DZ Phillips is/was an anti-realist christian believer who is actually quite famous as an interpreter of Wittgenstein's work so I believe.
Yep, that's your problem. 30 minutes isn't nearly long enough to cover all the ground you introduce (Arguably, a degree isn't enough!) so just be realistic. Say in your introduction what you're going to do, do it, and in your conclusion [or where appropriate as footnotes throughout] what you have neglected to do. That shows a much greater appreciation of what's going on than briefly mentioning loads of different things and not going into any depth.

An example would be to say something like "I wish to argue in support of the cosmological argument for God. It will be impossible for me to tackle every known counterargument here, what I will do is propose a rejoinder to the argument from X that Y, which I consider the strongest challenge faced." ... "In conclusion, I have shown that Y argument fails for Z reason. This supports the cosmological argument though unfortunately, there are other counterarguments out there, so it is not possible to say conclusively at this point that it succeeds"

That sort of thing shows that you really have a good grasp on what's going on, which is pretty damned important.
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Torbjorn66
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(Original post by User722716)
Any yet to be proven guess, essentially. It's debatable what causal force the laws of physics and the like can have, is why I would shy away from talking in terms of causation. For example, if I observe a stone falling at the same rate as a piece of paper and form the hypothesis "mass does not affect rate of descent due to gravity" that might be said to be more of a generalised description of what I have seen than a cause of what I have seen. Just be careful with loaded terminology.



That's not clear at all I'm afraid. It's a matter of many decades of debate, isn't it a bit weird to think that you're able to end that debate in half a sentence? You can't. But that's ok - I can't, and nor can anyone else. Try to be realistic about what you can achieve, and honest about your work's shortcomings. That will count in your favour because it's evidence of clear, critical thought.



Crediting your sources is of paramount importance, neglecting to do so is plagiarism. My point is, use fewer sources. Real philosophical articles regularly run to 10000 words plus only referring to one other writer, there's absolutely no shame whatsoever in that.



Yes, they are. Many philosophical terms are cloudy. Off the top of my head Grice and Jackson probably disagree on how to use 'semantics', 'utility' is used in different ways by many different ethicists. You simply must define your terms - this is again something that any contemporary 'real' article will do without shame. I'm sure you will get marked on using terminology well but a hugely important part of that is introducing it properly.

Also, the standard advice markers give is to pitch your work at someone who is philosophically educated but not familiar with your area. I don't myself know what 'conceptual scheme' means (not my area!) and I need you to tell me that, I shouldn't have to have SEP open while I'm reading your work.



Yep, that's your problem. 30 minutes isn't nearly long enough to cover all the ground you introduce (Arguably, a degree isn't enough!) so just be realistic. Say in your introduction what you're going to do, do it, and in your conclusion [or where appropriate as footnotes throughout] what you have neglected to do. That shows a much greater appreciation of what's going on than briefly mentioning loads of different things and not going into any depth.

An example would be to say something like "I wish to argue in support of the cosmological argument for God. It will be impossible for me to tackle every known counterargument here, what I will do is propose a rejoinder to the argument from X that Y, which I consider the strongest challenge faced." ... "In conclusion, I have shown that Y argument fails for Z reason. This supports the cosmological argument though unfortunately, there are other counterarguments out there, so it is not possible to say conclusively at this point that it succeeds"

That sort of thing shows that you really have a good grasp on what's going on, which is pretty damned important.

If I use fewer sources then I miss out on some of the marks awarded for variety of points in the second area of the marking criteria....

I don't know your involvement with philosophy, but conceptual schemes are one third of the only obligatory module in the AS level, I feel confident I can use the term, safe in the belief that it is well understood...

As for ending the falsification/verification debate in one sentence: no, I never said I could do that, but I can give a justified opinion on it. I appreciate I didn't make my justification explicit but if you read the sentence you can pick it up. I will work on that though.

What experience do you have of philosophy just out of interest?
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(Original post by Torbjorn66)
If I use fewer sources then I miss out on some of the marks awarded for variety of points in the second area of the marking criteria....

I don't know your involvement with philosophy, but conceptual schemes are one third of the only obligatory module in the AS level, I feel confident I can use the term, safe in the belief that it is well understood...

As for ending the falsification/verification debate in one sentence: no, I never said I could do that, but I can give a justified opinion on it. I appreciate I didn't make my justification explicit but if you read the sentence you can pick it up. I will work on that though.

What experience do you have of philosophy just out of interest?
Like I said, I'm an honours student. It might be that the marking is just bull**** in certain areas, in which case I guess you need bull**** advice, I don't know. But in philosophy it is spectacularly bad form not to define your terms, and I would be very shocked (and apalled) if in English schools they rewarded such bad practice. If they do, you have to play the game, but make damn sure that you're not just wrong first.

The problem at present is you don't truly make any points at all. There's just no sign of any critical engagement there. Nothing. One or two points has got to be better than that.

Also, reading back, your second paragraph doesn't really address the question. It could be made to, if you explain the links well, but 'if god isn't a hypothesis what is it?' isn't the question you've been set.

EDIT - If the course is as pathetically unphilosophical as you seem to suggest, then I imagine Cambridge will be switched on enough to know that. They're smart people.
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dancinginrainbows
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(Original post by Torbjorn66)
If I use fewer sources then I miss out on some of the marks awarded for variety of points in the second area of the marking criteria....
However using so many sources and not going into much detail on most of them is losing you even more marks, because that is what is central to the argument you are trying to make.

I don't know your involvement with philosophy, but conceptual schemes are one third of the only obligatory module in the AS level, I feel confident I can use the term, safe in the belief that it is well understood...
No. You need to define your terms. Even in an essay on conceptual schemes, you need to define what they are. Different people have different views on what words and phrases mean, so for your argument to make sense, you need to present clearly which interpretation you are using, so that your conclusions can follow.

As for ending the falsification/verification debate in one sentence: no, I never said I could do that, but I can give a justified opinion on it. I appreciate I didn't make my justification explicit but if you read the sentence you can pick it up. I will work on that though.
Cool.

What experience do you have of philosophy just out of interest?
Good knowledge of the AQA AS mark scheme as I'm doing A2.
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Torbjorn66
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I never asked "dancinginrainbows" any of the above questions?.... so don't be a prick.


Anyway, thanks User722716. I know it's difficult because philosophy isn't a course easily done as an A level so I think they do sacrifice some of the detail they expect. Just to show I'm not an idiot and can write real essays I won this years Corpus Christi Cambridge essay competition :P so it's not like I'm usually short of articulation it's just exam conditions
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(Original post by Torbjorn66)
I never asked "dancinginrainbows" any of the above questions?.... so don't be a prick.
He's giving you frank and honest advice, that you could do to follow. No need for insults.
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