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Introduction to Effective Altruism

This lesson is all about effective altruism, which is something of a philosophical phenomenon. Although it first arose in the 1970s as a counter-cultural response to consumerism and individualism, it's built real momentum as a movement over the last couple of decades. Since the so-called Great Recession of 2007-2009, a vanguard of philanthropic millennials has been contemplating the age-old question of how to live the good life and conclude that the answer isn't to be found in the avaricious acc…

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John Robinson on Situation Ethics

A Level: Edexcel

Here's a video lesson and some accompanying resources (see below) on John Robinson's groundbreaking book, Honest to God, and the key ideas it contains on situation ethics. Although only a single chapter is specifically dedicated to ethical decision-making, John Robinson's wider ideas on the nature of God and Jesus underpin his opinion on morality and carve out a niche for situation ethics within the Christian tradition (despite the fact it's been consistently rejected by the Ca…

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Introduction to Cognitivism

A Level: AQA • Edexcel • OCR • WJEC

Here's my attempt at tackling one of the toughest topics in ethics: meta-ethics (or, more specifically, the position in meta-ethics known as "cognitivism"). I was inspired to put this introductory video lesson together because so many students find meta-ethics difficult to wrap their heads around, and I sympathise! Given how abstract it is compared with so much else in ethics, it feels like a totally different subject. Anyway, here I've tried to summarise the…

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Evaluation of Utilitarianism

A Level: CCEA • Edexcel • OCR • WJEC

One of John Stuart Mill's most gripping claims is that everyone's really a utilitarian, or, formulated in a less inflammatory fashion, that every ethic anyone can follow was originally founded on the principle of utility. There's something arresting and highly attractive about this idea, at least to my mind. Just as we can't escape our human nature, we can't escape our utilitarian tendencies; or so we're told. In my opinion, it's one of the strongest argumen…

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Rebuttals

A Level: AQA • CCEA • Edexcel • OCR • WJEC

I've written a couple of blog posts on essay writing: one on explanatory essays and one on evaluative essays. This post is all about rebuttals, which are written into evaluative essays to persuade readers of a particular judgement or opinion. A well-written rebuttal achieves this by defending the judgement of the essay writer against specific criticisms and providing counterarguments against them. One of the most famous military and sporting adages out…

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Introduction to Situation Ethics

A Level: AQA • CCEA • Edexcel • OCR • WJEC

Just before Christmas, I sent out a short questionnaire asking my beloved subscribers to let me know the topics they urgently wanted resources for. Situation ethics was an area of the ethics curriculum that immediately and repeatedly popped out, which inspired me to go about putting together this introductory video lesson and its accompanying presentation and downloadable resources (see below). When I first learnt about situation ethics, I wasn't taugh…

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Evaluative Essays

A Level: AQA • CCEA • Edexcel • OCR • WJEC

This is my follow up to last month's blog post on explanatory essays, which are often referred to as AO1 essays. By contrast, evaluative essays (or AO2 essays) are usually considered more challenging. Still, they shouldn't be because they require a skill many of us are well practised with: the ability to argue. Much of the time, most of us argue a lot, it's just that we don't argue about issues in religious studies! Instead, we argue about sports teams…

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Explanatory Essays

A Level: AQA • CCEA • Edexcel • WJEC

This is my attempt to explain the so-called "explanatory essay". I use this term as a title because I want to emphasise that explanatory essay writing is an important skill beyond both A Level as a qualification and Religious Studies as a course. In the teaching of A Level Religious Studies, explanatory essays are sometimes referred to as "AO1 essays", which is a reference to the first of Ofqual's assessment objectives in the subject: to demonstrate knowledg…

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Introduction to Free Will and Determinism

A Level: AQA • CCEA • WJEC

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a Northern Irish student who wanted to know more about Ted Honderich and hard determinism. This got me thinking quite a lot about the problem of free will and determinism, which I hadn't given much thought to since leaving university a decade ago. Trawling through text books and online resources, I realised that a whole host of confusion is created by the fact that students often assume free will and determinism are oppo…

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Plato and the Theory of Forms

A Level: OCR

I was inspired to create a video lesson on Plato's theory of Forms thanks to a request from Catherine Connaughton, who teaches Religious Studies alongside her other responsibilities at an outstanding secondary school and sixth form. Like my previous post, this one tackles a OCR specific A Level topic but it's relevant to other specifications as well. More importantly, it's a fascinating theory in its own right that's deserving of study regardless of its importance to any qualificat…

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