Philosophy for A2: Unit 4
Routledge – 2009 – 282 pages
Philosophy for A2: Unit 4 is the definitive textbook for students of the current AQA Advanced Level syllabus for philosophy. Structured very closely around the AQA specifications for Unit 4: Philosophical Problems, Michael Lacewing helps students to engage with and understand the arguments of the five key texts:
All chapters are helpfully subdivided into short digestible passages, and include:
In addition, a chapter on exam preparation contains a wealth of helpful hints and tips on revision and exam techniques.
Written by an experienced philosopher and A Level consultant, Philosophy for A2: Unit 4 is an essential companion for all students of A2 Level philosophy.
'Michael Lacewing has the rare talent of making accessible the most difficult and abstract philosophical material. Here he presents a comprehensive and erudite account of the five texts offered on the AQA specification.
Lacewing closely follows and relates his discussion to the content of the specification, providing a thorough and insightful treatment of each text as well as questions to test the reader’s knowledge and understanding, offering cross references and pointers to prompt further research and reading , and raising issues to encourage and develop the skills and awareness necessary for critical assessment.
Students of all abilities will find here-in all the ingredients necessary for success at A Level Philosophy.'
Dr Andrew Rowley, Head of Philosophy, Bedford Modern School
'Michael Lacewing’s new book for AQA A Level Philosophy Unit 4 is a most welcome addition to the market. There is a desperate need for accessible books that are good introductions to the advanced level set texts and this new book fits the bill nicely. The book is substantial enough to cover each of the set texts, whilst at the same time not being too daunting for students. The fact that the book covers all of the set texts makes it a really worthwhile investment for any department as it allows the flexibility of changing texts, such as when a change in departmental staff occurs.
The introduction to the book is clear and precise giving the reader a good insight into the differing requirements of A2 compared with AS level. The usefulness of the introduction is supported by the very helpful glossary of key terms which will be of great benefit to students.
A particularly valuable section of the book is the final chapter ‘Preparing for the Examination’ which provides students with a lucid presentation of revision strategies for a set text paper. The clear separation of ‘Revision Tips’ from ‘Exam technique’ will be a valuable aid for students preparing for the difficult task of revising for a set text Philosophy paper.
The layout of each of the commentary chapters will aid students. The chapters focus on the key issues raised by the AQA syllabus and good use is made of subheadings which clearly identify the issue under discussion in each section of the commentary.
There is one chapter on each of the set texts and these chapters are all of a pleasing length, providing good coverage of the key issues raised by each of the set texts. The chapters comment on AQA recommended editions of the set texts. Students will appreciate the fact that page numbers for quotations in the textbook cross reference to the editions of the set text recommended by AQA. Also, the summaries at the end of each section of commentary will be most beneficial to students. For example, in the chapter covering Hume’s Enquiry, each issue discussed is followed by a summary of key ideas and salient points of debate that will be invaluable to students when they revise.
I look forward to seeing this book in print; the informative and lucid coverage of the set texts will make it a worthwhile purchase for my own department. Its comprehensive coverage of the syllabus, coupled with a critical yet sensitive examination of the philosophical issues raised by each text will make it an essential resource for students and a pleasure for staff to use.'
Matthew Taylor, Head of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Colchester County High School for Girls
'Michael Lacewing has rightly established a reputation as "Mr A Level Philosophy." He is uniquely placed to fulfil this role. As a practising professional philosopher teaching and researching at Heythrop College, London University he has an up to date and thorough knowledge of the subject. As a gifted teacher and expositor with many years of experience of running conferences for 6th form students he has an enviable gift for explaining complex ideas simply and clearly.
He writes lucidly and has the unerring capacity for finding vivid and revealing examples and illustrations which make abstract ideas accessible and easy to comprehend. The material is superbly structured and set out with simple expositions followed by summaries of key points and then followed by extension passages with more developed and advanced discussions. Thus beginners are led by simple progression through an understanding of the basics to a more advanced grasp of a problem or theme. Expositions and explanations of key ideas are then supplemented with a balanced discussion of key strengths and weaknesses. The book is a model of popular philosophical writing at its very best. As a text book it is ideal: the most able students will benefit from the extended discussions and less confident students will find that the simpler introductory expositions succeed in making even challenging ideas simple and easy to comprehend. Though clearly aimed at A level students the book will serve and deserve a wider audience. Undergraduates will find it an ideal resource for authoritative and up to date summaries of the most recent philosophical literature on these themes and topics. Likewise busy teachers of Philosophy will find this a reliable and time saving resource. For clarity and reliability there is simply no better introduction to Philosophy at this level. If you are to buy only one book then look no further: this is the one!'
Geoff Willis, Head of Philosophy, City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College
Ch. 1 Hume’s An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding
II. Cause and effect
III. Free will
Ch. 2 Plato’s The Republic
I. Appearance and reality
II. Knowledge and Virtue
III. Political rule
Ch. 3 Mill’s On Liberty
II. Freedom of the individual (I)
III. Freedom of the individual (II) and Individual development
Ch. 4 Descartes’ Meditations
II. Mind and body
Ch. 5 Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil
I. Scope of philosophy
II. Nature of morality
III. Religious belief
Ch. 6 Preparing for the exam
Michael Lacewing is Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He is founder of the company A Level Philosophy, and a consultant on philosophy at A Level for the British Philosophical Association.