Distinguishing Philosophy at A-level

Posted by Edward Willatt on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 Under: A-level Philosophy

Lately I have been considering the current state of the teaching of philosophy at A-level.  There is a philosophy A-level offered by AQA.  This is an excellent course because it requires students to develop significant subject knowledge and to tackle core problems in philosophy.  However, increasingly schools are offering the subject of ‘philosophy and ethics’ at A-level when this refers to certain modules on the various A-levels in religious studies offered by OCR, AQA and Edexcel.

My concern is that this dilutes the subject of philosophy at A-level.  Instead of being required to study the core area of epistemology and to read at least one complex philosophy text, students study what is labelled philosophy, or philosophy and ethics, by their schools.  While the philosophy modules within the A-level religious studies courses are valuable they do limit themselves to ethics and religious philosophy.  The highly valuable study of epistemology, broader metaphysics (beyond questions of God's existence) and the mastery of a philosophical text that is required on the AQA philosophy A-level is not required by the philosophical components of the religious studies A-levels.  Instead of studying philosophy on its own terms and with a breadth of topics - including the philosophy of mind, philosophy of art, political philosophy and metaphysics – they are being offered a highly selective syllabus.  

Whilst I think that philosophy’s plight merits attention I in no way intend to denigrate the subject of religious studies.  My concern is that increasingly schools combine philosophy and religion in one department and employ teachers of 'religion and philosophy'.  These subjects have many things in common but when viewed as a whole philosophy includes areas that have as much in common with the natural and social sciences as they do with religious studies.  Whilst religious philosophy and ethics are key areas of philosophy there is so much more to it.  If philosophy students limit themselves to areas of the subject that combine with religion studies and if they do not focus on other areas fundamental to philosophy and its unique methods they do lose out.  There is a danger that students come to see philosophy as wholly a matter of belief or opinion rather than recognising the challenges of formulating philosophical arguments that underpin founding claims in science, morality and many other areas of knowledge.

In : A-level Philosophy 



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Distinguishing Philosophy at A-level

Posted by Edward Willatt on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 Under: A-level Philosophy

Lately I have been considering the current state of the teaching of philosophy at A-level.  There is a philosophy A-level offered by AQA.  This is an excellent course because it requires students to develop significant subject knowledge and to tackle core problems in philosophy.  However, increasingly schools are offering the subject of ‘philosophy and ethics’ at A-level when this refers to certain modules on the various A-levels in religious studies offered by OCR, AQA and Edexcel.

My concern is that this dilutes the subject of philosophy at A-level.  Instead of being required to study the core area of epistemology and to read at least one complex philosophy text, students study what is labelled philosophy, or philosophy and ethics, by their schools.  While the philosophy modules within the A-level religious studies courses are valuable they do limit themselves to ethics and religious philosophy.  The highly valuable study of epistemology, broader metaphysics (beyond questions of God's existence) and the mastery of a philosophical text that is required on the AQA philosophy A-level is not required by the philosophical components of the religious studies A-levels.  Instead of studying philosophy on its own terms and with a breadth of topics - including the philosophy of mind, philosophy of art, political philosophy and metaphysics – they are being offered a highly selective syllabus.  

Whilst I think that philosophy’s plight merits attention I in no way intend to denigrate the subject of religious studies.  My concern is that increasingly schools combine philosophy and religion in one department and employ teachers of 'religion and philosophy'.  These subjects have many things in common but when viewed as a whole philosophy includes areas that have as much in common with the natural and social sciences as they do with religious studies.  Whilst religious philosophy and ethics are key areas of philosophy there is so much more to it.  If philosophy students limit themselves to areas of the subject that combine with religion studies and if they do not focus on other areas fundamental to philosophy and its unique methods they do lose out.  There is a danger that students come to see philosophy as wholly a matter of belief or opinion rather than recognising the challenges of formulating philosophical arguments that underpin founding claims in science, morality and many other areas of knowledge.

In : A-level Philosophy 



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