Philosophy A2 AQA

Length of course: 5 half-day sessions
Boards: AQA (2176) only

This course is board-specific for the AQA A2 Philosophy specification (2176).

This course is not suitable for AS students.



  • Utilitarianism: the maximisation of utility, including: the question of what is meant by‘pleasure’, including Mill’s higher and lower pleasures; how this might be calculated, including Bentham’s utility calculus; forms of utilitarianism: act and rule utilitarianism; preference utilitarianism; issues with these arguments.
  • Kantian deontological ethics: what maxims can be universalised without contradiction, including: the categorical and hypothetical imperatives; the categorical imperative – first and second formulations; issues with these arguments.
  • Aristotle’s virtue ethics: the development of a good character, including “the good” pleasure, the function argument and eudaimonia;  the role of education/habituation in developing a moral character; voluntary and involuntary actions and moral responsibility; the doctrine of the mean and Aristotle’s account of vices and virtues; issues with these arguments.
  • Application of the theories above to the following issues: crime and punishment; war; simulated killing (within computer games, plays, films, etc); the treatment of animals, deception and the telling of lies.
  • Cognitivism: ethical language makes claims about reality which are true or false (fact-stating); moral realism; ethical language makes claims about mind-independent reality that are true.
  • Non-cognitivism: ethical language does not make claims about reality which are true or false (fact-stating).

Philosophy of Mind

  • Substance Dualism: the mind is distinct from the physical. The indivisibility and conceivability argument for substance dualism (Descartes); issues with these arguments.
  • Property dualism: The ‘philosophical zombies’ argument for property dualism; the ‘knowledge’/Mary argument for property dualism based on qualia (Frank Jackson); issues with these arguments.
  • The issues of causal interaction and the problem of other minds for dualism.
  • Logical/analytical behaviourism: all statements about mental states can be analytically reduced without loss of meaning to statements about behaviour; issues with these arguments.
  • Mind–brain type identity theory: all mental states are identical to brain states issues with these arguments.
  • Functionalism: all mental states can be reduced to functional roles which can be multiply realised; issues with these arguments.
  • Eliminative materialism: some or all mental states do not exist (folk-psychology is false or at least radically misleading); issues with these arguments.