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OCR religious studies advice

Hello, I am a student coming up to exams for religious studies soon. I am struggling to revise effectively and quickly enough for the upcoming A level papers (keep on mind each question is 40 marks), I would love to know if anyone has any last minute revision advice for am essay based subject like mine.
Thank you
Hi, I did OCR RS and got an A (12 marks off A*) - I would say revise each topic in depth minus 1 per paper. So don't revise your worst topic for Philosphy/ Ethics/ DCT - this narrows it down slightly. Therefore even if you for example got rid of business ethics and this came up in the paper, you have revised so much for the rest of ethics that you will be able to answer any question well.

- Learn key A01 for each topic (create sheets). For me I found it easiest (and usually got A* in essays that) used the introduction to get majority of the A01 in so that my essay was full of A02 as the A02 marks are higher than A01.

For Philosphy after learning the key A01 - learn theories/ scholars/ events which may argue against the A01. For example, after explaining your A01 for religious experience you find a flaw e.g. St Paul on the road to Damascus may not have been a religious experience as he had epilepsy.
The way to get A02 marks that people miss out is they don't COUNTERARGUE - after telling the examiner that St Paul had epilepsy which means his religious experience may have not been a religious experience at all - ask yourself if this is enough to go against the whole of religious experience? For example you could argue, this is just one example of one man who believed he encountered Jesus/divinity - but this isn't enough grounds to refute every single religious experience.
Here is where you would use a SECOND SCHOLAR etc to either back up the original a01 e.g. Davey Falcus or Nicky Cruz (here you'd be arguing religious experience is enough to prove the existence of God) or you would find a second scholar to use another argument against religious experience e.g. can the finite experience the infinite? How can we verify the authenticity of experiences if they are all so different? (here you'd be arguing religious experience is NOT enough to prove the existence of God)

Do this for all of the philosophy topics.
For DCT I would do the same approach regarding A01 but learn my scholars and use more biblical references for the A02.
For ethics I would use ethical theories to refute/ strengthen my idea. For example - I've attached an A* essay below that I wrote on natural law and whether it is the most useful approach to sexual ethics - so I learned 3 main bits of A01 which formed my 3 paragraphs (premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality) and then used situation ethics and kantian ethics as the A02.
This essay structure is the same I used for other applied ethics e.g. business ethics (3 paragraphs would be Corporate social responsibility, whistleblowing and globalisation - then apply whichever ethical theory you like: natural law, kant, situation ethics, utilitarianism)

GOOD LUCK - don't panic I know it doesn't seem possible to write 3 40 mark essays 3 times in exam conditions but IT IS!! somehow even to this day I don't know how we did it but in exam conditions it'll all come to you if you follow the techniques I've suggested. - even if you don't remember scholars, remember your own brain in the exam can think of counters - e.g. whistleblowing is good because you've stopped a company from doing unethical things, however it is also bad because you have now made loads and loads of people lose their jobs and you have no idea what their living situation is/ whistleblowing could really effect some people negatively - then use Kant for example - he would say we must always tell the truth e.g. whistleblower on the company for doing wrong things - whereas utilitarianism would say the thousands of people losing their jobs outweighs the 1 person whistleblowing - seems utilitarianism is better? that's pretty much one paragraph done (just make sure you explain whistleblowing and if possible remember a case study but if your mind goes blank your A02 will save you.

I know this was A LOT of info but I hope you took away something and I hope I managed to help a little bit?

“Natural law is the most useful approach to sexual ethics”

Sexual ethics is an area of ethics that considers ideas regarding sexual acts and sexuality; natural law is used as an approach towards sexual ethics. Natural law is a theonomous ethical theory for moral and rational decision making. It requires people to follow the synderesis rule (to do good and avoid evil) so that we can achieve our telos (God given purpose) which is eudaimonia (the fulfilment of human flourishing). To do good, Aquinas provided 5 primary precepts (preservation of life, reproduction, education of children, ordering of society and worship of God). When discussing the usefulness of natural law’s approach to sexual ethics, the examples and arguments concerning premarital sex, extramarital sex and homosexuality are not as useful as theories such as situation ethics which are more teleological and situational.

It could be argued that natural law is not the most useful approach to sexual ethics when considering premarital sex (sex before marriage). Aquinas and followers of natural law would argue that premarital sex is always sinful as it is not consistent with the flourishing of human society. Sex should only occur with intentions of reproduction (a primary precept) as the telos of sexual organs is procreation. Furthermore, according to Aquinas, children should only be raised within a marriage as it is a stable, safe environment, which acts in accordance with the primary precept of having an ordered society. Many Christians would agree with natural law as they believe marriage is intended to be a union of minds and bodies where the couple become ‘one flesh’ (Mark 10:8) in the creation of a loving and stable environment in which children may flourish. The Catechism can be used to support this further as it holds the view that premarital sex doesn’t support Christian ideas such as fidelity, exclusivity, and commitment. Although natural law is simple in its approach meaning that one can make quick and easy moral decisions, especially useful when pressured for time, Fletcher (founder of situation ethics) would argue that we shouldn’t be legalistic. For example, if there is an arranged marriage in which the couple does not love one another, they do not have a stable family unit and thus there isn’t a safe environment to raise children. Furthermore, not all married couples are loyal to each other and Fletcher would argue that if a couple loves each other, they can still commit to each other without the need for marriage and therefore have pre-marital sex. Fletcher and therefore followers of situation ethics believe that we should follow the rules until we need to break them for reasons of love; “whether any form of sex is good or evil depends on whether love is fully served.” Although it could be argued love is subjective and Fletcher provides us no means of calculating the most loving course of action, it is still more useful than natural law regarding premarital sex; The deontological nature of natural law is not useful as it does not consider each situation like situation ethics does. Furthermore, although Aquinas is correct in stating that the purpose of sexual organs is procreation, natural law doesn’t recognise that sex is enjoyed in relationships and is therefore useless when applied to sexual ethics.

It could be argued that natural law is not the most useful approach to sexual ethics when considering extramarital sex. Natural law is governed by divine law (the law of God) which is revealed to us through the Bible. Biblical stories such as the women caught in adultery show God’s and therefore natural law’s view of extramarital sex; it is sinful and thus forbidden. Natural law seems straightforward to apply which lead Bowie to argue that it “gives clear unambiguous answers to moral questions in times of moral uncertainty”. However, it could be argued that Kant’s reasoning behind why extramarital sex is wrong is more useful than that provided by natural law. Kant would also argue that extramarital sex is always wrong; it risks treating someone as a means to an end e.g. someone achieving comfort through sex. In marriage people aren’t using each other for sex as they have chosen to wholly and permanently support and commit to each other e.g. supporting them through illness. Kant emphasised the importance of promise-keeping and truth-telling which would deem extramarital sex as unethical. Furthermore, Kant doesn’t want to universalise extramarital sexual activities as it is emotionally damaging, there would be an increase in people with STI’s and there would be more unwanted pregnancies which would result in many abortions. Kant’s reasons for not wanting to universalise extramarital sex are plausible and in line with today’s secular, modern day society, unlike those of natural law which are less secular and more religious which aren’t useful as religion is in decline. Despite this, Kantian ethics’ second maxim of means to an end can not be absolute as it is impractical and we do use people as means to an end in daily life. Instead, situation ethics recognises that adultery generally causes unhappiness however it could be justified for pragmatic reasons. Pragmatism being one of Fletcher’s four working principles meaning that it is based on experience and therefore is practical and works in daily life. For example, if someone’s partner has been in a coma for five years and needs comfort which they achieve through sex, situation ethics would deem this as acceptable as this is a loving reason. However, if someone has an affair out of revenge, this would be unacceptable in regard to situation ethics as there is nothing loving about revenge. In doing so, it’s approach towards extramarital sex is useful as it considers real life situations and recognises comfort can be achieved through sex. Therefore it could be argued that situation ethics provides a more useful approach than both natural law and Kantian ethics; it’s pragmatic aspect is more useful when applied to sexual ethics as it works in practice.

It could be maintained that natural law is not the most useful approach to sexual ethics when considering homosexuality. Natural Law would argue that homosexuality is always wrong as one can’t procreate and therefore it goes against the precept of reproduction. Furthermore it holds the view that a misuse of sexual organs e.g. homosexuality goes against divine law. Aquinas would argue that homosexuality is an apparent good, not a real good, as it prevents one from achieving their telos. Although the catholic church formerly saw homosexuality as a sin, it has now become more liberal and therefore we can see that natural law is too old fashioned. It could be argued that situation ethics is offers a more useful approach to sexual ethics when considering homosexuality. It does not give rules about homosexuality in general, but it would consider homosexual relations to be morally acceptable if it bought about agapeic love. Despite not giving absolute rules, it recognises that it is unloving to forbid homosexual relations and it would be loving to support them which is just and conforms with the majority of today’s society. Fletcher would also rightly argue that it is absurd to think that one cannot reach beatification with God or flourish as a human if they pursue homosexual relations. Similar to natural law’s view on premarital sex, he would argue that although sexual organs are designed to reproduce, it doesn’t mean that we have to carry out their designed function; natural law fails to recognise sex is enjoyed in relationships. Although it could be argued that situation ethics’ focus on agapeic love is problematic as we don’t know that the most moral course of action is most loving, it still seems clear that it is more useful than natural ethics is regard to homosexuality as it is up to date and aligns with modern views.

In conclusion, it seems clear that natural law is not the most useful approach to sexual ethics when considering it alongside Kantian ethics and situation ethics. It is too rigid and deontological and whilst Kantian ethics also has this problem, natural law is rather old fashioned and is of very little relevance in today’s secular, modern society. It appears situation ethics proves to be the most useful ethical theory with regard to sexual ethics. Despite a few problems, it is most aligned with today’s secular society which has led Bowie to plausibly argue it is "flexible, practical and fits with the modern day world", and it considers each situation individually as well as its consequences as it is a teleological, situational ethical theory.

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