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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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Plato and the Allegory of the Cave

A Level: OCR

I decided to take on this fascinating topic thanks to a request from Claire Glover, who teaches the OCR A Level specification at a thriving sixth form college. Obviously, it's an incredibly popular topic with a whole host of readily available resources; however, reading the text in Robin Waterfield's wonderfully readable translation, and following along using Julia Annas's excellent introduction to the Republic (as suggested by the syllabus), revealed just how much nuance often get…

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Anselmian Eternalism

A Level: OCR

I am indebted to Fiona Fishburn for inspiring me to produce this video lesson on Anselm of Canterbury's four-dimensionalist approach to time (or, as I've titled it in the interests of brevity, Anselmian eternalism). Fiona runs an outstanding Religious Studies department that follows OCR's A Level specification, and emailed me to enquire about whether I could produce a video lesson on this tricky topic. Long story short, Fiona's email motivated me to launch this blog, where I plan o…

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