S6 Higher Philosophy

The course comprises two twenty hour units and two forty hour units.  The twenty hour units involve the study of Critical Thinking and Metaphysics and the forty hour units involve the study of Epistemology (the Philosophy of Knowledge) and Moral Philosophy.

Critical Thinking

Candidates learn about the structure of logical argument.  They learn to analyse arguments, to present them in logical form and to differentiate between valid and invalid, sound and unsound arguments.  Common fallacies are also studied.


Candidates study one of the following metaphysical debates:

Debate 1:   Is there a rational basis for belief in God?

Debate 2:   Do human beings have free will?


Candidates investigate three questions which are relevant in the area of epistemology:

  • Why are knowledge claims a problem in philosophy?
  • What is knowledge?
  • Can knowledge claims be justified?

They then consider a rationalist position in response to these questions by studying Descartes’ meditations.

Moral Philosophy

Candidates study the moral theories of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant.  They then consider what is meant by the claim that an action is morally right.  Emotivism is studied as a theory in meta-ethics which tries to explain how moral principles can be important to people while they may have no truth-value.