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September 2016

Philosophy: Know your key terms!


You probably already know how important it is to nail down the definitions of key terms in your essays. This is the thing I found most difficult to get a grasp of in the first few months of studying Philosophy and Ethics at A Level and the Examiners reports suggest that this is what most students struggle with. You have to use terms with pinpoint precision and define them concisely when you’re under time pressure in an exam, so that you have plenty of time to discuss, evaluate and analyse. Simply put, you can’t blag it. You have to know the exact meaning of the question and the words you are using. It sounds easy but it requires a huge amount of skill and practice.

Below is a list I started doing in my second year. At the end of each topic I’d go through the specification, textbook chapters and my work from lessons and pick out the key phrases that I needed to be able to clearly define. I’d spend about 15-20 minutes just plugging the gaps using The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy and my textbooks. It made everything a whole lot easier when it came to revising before exams because I had a cheat sheet for every single topic.

These lists have an extensive (but by no means exhaustive) collection of key terms from the OCR specification you’ll need to be able to clearly define in your exams. When you finish a topic fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

But firstly, a couple of words of warning when using these lists:

 

Don’t get complacent with ‘simple’ terms

 

Say for example you were going through this list after studying euthanasia. It’d be perfectly natural to skip past the word ‘euthanasia’ saying to yourself ‘I definitely know that one, it’s assisted suicide’. The definition of euthanasia is extremely precise. Assisted suicide is only euthanasia if it is painless, the patient is suffering from an incurable AND painful disease OR in a permanent coma. That’s the level of precision your definitions need. 

Philosophical and ethical terms such as rational, proof, objective and subjective have very particular (and sometimes odd) definitions, so if you’re in any doubt at all, check. It’s important that you don’t use random websites, only trusted sources.

 

Use the lists alongside your syllabus and add terms

 

These lists DO NOT cover everything you need to know. They only contain terms and have nothing about wider concepts or how theories contrast or relate to one another. The syllabus tells you everything that can come up in your exams. The lists contain a lot of the terms you will need to be able to understand and define, but they WILL NOT contain every single one. Use them as a starting point and add terms that come up in your research and lessons.

 

Philosophy of Religion

Reason                                                                             

Defend

Religious Development

The Nature of

Influence

Truth

Coexist

Possible

Necessary

Resolve

Conflicts

Apparent

Useful

Relationship between

Convincing

Comparison

Successful

Understood

Subject to

Entirely

Enable

Effective

Usefulness 

Approach

Impact

Valuable

Conclusion

Sufficient

Explanation

Cannot be overcome

Support

Strengthen

Convincing

Criticisms

Discuss

Issues

Persuasive

 

 

Topic: Philosophical Language and Thought

Ancient Philosophical Influences

A priori

A posteriori

Plato’s Forms

Form of the Good

Analogy of the Cave

Aristotle’s Four Causes

The Prime Mover

Teleology

Rationalism

Empiricism

Reality

Objectivity

subjectivity

 

Soul, Mind and Body

Soul

Mind

Body

Essential

Immaterial

Metaphysics

Metaphorically

Substance dualism

Materialism

Material/spiritual Substances (In relation to body and mind)

Consciousness

Physical/material interactions

Category error

  

Topic: The Existence of God

Arguments Based on Observation

Existence

God of Classical Theism

Deity

Teleological

Cosmological

Observation

Paley’s Watch

Anthropic principle

Design qua regularity

Design qua purpose

The Five Ways

Natural religion

Evolution

Chance

Transcendent

Creator

Logical Fallacy

Contingency

Necessity

 

Arguments Based on Reason

Ontological Argument

Conceived

Postulate

Contradiction

Supremely Perfect

Proofs

Predicate

Justifies belief

Necessary being

 

 

Topic: God and the World

Religious Experience

Religious experience

Mystical experience

Ineffable

Noetic quality

Transient

Passive

Conversion experience

Understand

Union

Greater Power

Psychological effect

Illusion

Personal testimony

Credulity

Witness

Validity

Corporate religious experiences

Corporeal

Non-Corporeal

Imaginative

Intellectual

Vision

 

 

The Problem of Evil

Problem of evil

Problem of suffering

Presentations

Theodicies

Justification

Divine (in)action

Logical

Evidential

Original perfection

The fall

Irenaean theodicy

Natural evil

Moral evil

Enable

Divine likeness

Blame

Vale of soul-making

  

 

Topic: Theological and Philosophical Developments

The Nature of God

Theological Developments

Attributes of God

Omnipotent

Omniscient

Omnibenevolent

Eternity

Free will

Divine power

Self-imposed limitation

Divine knowledge

Temporal existence

Logical possibility

Just judgement

Human actions

Divine foreknowledge

Divine action in time

Anselm’s four-dimensionalist approach

  

 

Topic: Religious Language

Negative, Analogical or Symbolic

Religious Language

Negative

Analogical

Symbolic

Apophatic way

Via negativa

Cataphatic way

Via positiva

Theological language

Negation

Analogy of attribution

Analogy of proper proportion

Religious expression

Religious discourse

Comprehensible

 

Twentieth Century Perspectives

Logical Positivism

Verification principle

Language games

Forms of life

Permit

Cognitive

Non-cognitive

Sense

Factual quality

Falsification symposium

Eschatological verification

Blik 

 

 

Religion and Ethics

General Ethical Terms

Helpful

Justify

applied

action

Moral-decision making

Ethical Judgement

Good

Bad

Right

Wrong

Values

Belief

Consequence

Consequences

contradictory

merits

Success

Failure

Achieve

Entirely

Complete

Pursuit

In the context of

 

Topic: Normative Ethical Theories – Religious Approaches

Natural Law

Four tiers of law

Eternal law

Divine Law

Ten Commandments

Sermon on the Mount

Natural Law

Discoverable

Human Law

Precepts

Key precept

Do good

Avoid evil

Primary precepts

Preservation of life

Ordering of society

Worship

Education

Reproduction

Orientation

Doctrine of double effect

  

Situation Ethics

Situation Ethics

Six propositions

Agape

Love

Intrinsically good

Ruling norm

Laws

Justice

Neighbour

Goal

Means to achieve

Four working principles

Pragmatism

Experience

Theory

Relativism

Absolute laws

Positivism

Importance

Personalism

Conscience (Fletcher’s definition)

Attempts

Creatively

Given situation

Agape is best served

 

Topic: Normative Ethical Theories

Kantian Ethics

Normative Ethics

Deontological

Kantian

Duty

Consequences

Absolutist

Hypothetical imperative

Command

Desired result

Categorical imperative

Three formulations

Formula

Law of nature

Maxim

Universal law

Ends in itself

Means to an end

Kingdom of ends

Society of rationality

Obeying

Moral command

Sympathy

Empathy

 

 

Utilitarianism

Teleological

Utilitarianism

Utility

Relativist ethics

The greatest balance

Hedonic calculus

Measure of individual pleasure

Act utilitarianism

Pleasure

Pain

Rule utilitarianism

The common good

 

 

Topic: Applied Ethics

Euthanasia

Euthanasia

Sanctity of life

God’s image

Sacred

Quality of life

Secular origins

Value

Voluntary euthanasia

Request

Consent

Incurable

Terminal

Non-voluntary euthanasia

Representing interests

Persistent vegetative state

Medical intervention

Medical non-intervention

Medical ethics

Autonomy

 

Business Ethics

Business ethics

Corporate social responsibility

Community

Environment

Stakeholders

Employees

Customers

Country

Government

Whistle-blowing

Wrongdoing

Contractual obligation

Good ethics is good business

Shareholders

Profit-making

Globalisation

Economies

Industries

Markets

Cultures

Integrated

Policy-making

Flourish

Greed

Capitalism

Marxism

Consumerism

Hypocritical

 

 

Topic: Ethical Language

Meta-ethics

Meta-ethics

Objective

Factual

Meaningful

Meaningless

Naturalism

Natural property

Absolutism

Intuitionism

Indefinable

Self-evident

Emotivism

Evince (dis)approval

Common sense approach

 

 

Topic: Significant Ideas

Conscience

Conscience

Theological Approach

Ratio

Synderesis

Conscientia

Vincible ignorance

Invincible ignorance

Psychological approach

Psychosexual development

Libido

Id

Ego

Social interaction

Super-ego

Concept of guilt

Reason

Unconscious mind

Umbrella term

 

 

Topic: Developments in Ethical Thought

Sexual Ethics

Sexual ethics

Premarital sex

Extramarital sex

Homosexuality

Legality

Tolerability

Religious practices

Key teachings

Religious figures

Religious institutions

Continuing role

Choices

Sexual behaviour

Private

Personal

Societal norms

Legislation

Normative theories

 

 

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