Monday, 27 June 2011

Past Questions from old spec

Past Questions from old spec, adapted, for questions from the new spec please see link below.


1. Discuss the view that the concept of a miracle is inconsistent with a belief in a benevolent God. [2002]
2. Assess Hume's reasons for rejecting miracles [2004]
3. By definition, a miracle can never happen. Discuss [2005]

Religious Language

1. Critically examine the Via Negativa as an approach to understanding the nature of God. [2002]
2. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the use of analogy as a means of expressing human understanding of God. [2003]
3. Assess the view that the different forms of religious experience are nothing more than fantasy [2006]
4. How far is the claim that moral language is meaningful, even if religious language is not [2004]

Religious Experience

1. Discuss the suggestion that it is pointless to analyse religious experience. [2003]

Nature of God

1. If our ethical behaviour is determined, there can be no possible answers to the problem of evil [2002]
2. God creates us and knows in advance all the choices we will make; therefore we cannot be held responsible when we do wrong [2003]

Life after Death

1. Eternal life in heaven does not explain or compensate for the unfairness of this world; only reincarnation can do that [2003]
2. The only point to behaving morally is to be rewarded after death, discuss [2005]

For a predictions grid, up-to-date questions and sample answers please see this website:

Also this pdf continues lots of practice questions for OCR A2 Phil of Religion paper: 

Essay Question On Miracles

Here is an attempt on the question, 'By definition, a miracle can never happen' Discuss (35)

%22By Definition, A Miracle Can Never Happen, Discuss%22 by Komilla Chadha

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

More Fiscal Policy

More Fiscal Policy

How can the state use tax revenues to improve human capital?

This is quite straightforward the money raised through taxation can be spent on education, training, providing information of jobs and incentivizing people to study e.g. EMI. The more educated and trained the labour force, the more specialised they are.

What are the different types of taxation? 

  • Direct and indirect 

Direct taxation is tax on incomes so it goes directly out your wallet without choice e.g. Income tax and National Insurance.
Indirect tax is a tax on goods and services which we pay because we choose to indulge in such goods and services e.g. VAT and alcohol duty.
  • Progressive 

Progressive taxation tends to be % because it is a tax which increases according to the size of the income e.g. income tax, the rich pay more than the poor. This tax is usually used for promoting a fairer and more equal society.
  • Regressive

Regressive taxes are like fixed taxes which don’t change if you are rich or poor so whether you ear £5 or £5million you will still pay the same in lets say alcohol duties. This means the proportion of income falls as you become richer and to quote the famous phrase this leads to the “poor becoming poorer”.
  • Proportional 

These type of taxation is not subject to change when incomes change so if your income increases the taxes will not change.

How can government spending and taxation be used to reduce poverty?

The answer to this is quite simple, it is like the Robin Hood idea steal from the rich give to the poor. The government can tax the rich and use that tax revenue to fund benefits from the poor not only eradicating poverty, as the people can never get to poor due to benefits, but reducing inequality. We call such payments transfer payments, transferring tax revenue into benefits.

Laffer Curve 
The Laffer curve isn’t particularly difficult, it simply states that the taxation is only helpful in generating revenue when is it at a particular level. If the tax rate is too high or too low the government’s revenue will all and will not be at its optimum level. PajHolden’s video tutorial on this is very helpful find it below!

Financing International Trade

Financing International Trade 

What are the factors influencing exchange rates? - demand and supply analysis

Video can be found here:

What are the impacts of changes in exchange rates e.g. implications for competitiveness?

Appreciation of the £

  • Raw materials become more cheaper [all imports become cheaper] 
  • Consumers benefit from cheaper imports therefore better consumer welfare
  • Business benefits from cheaper costs [imports] and suffer from expensive exports and raw materials
  • Helps to control inflation as the average price of goods and services declines thanks to cheaper imports 
  • Makes the deficit worse - current account deficit
  • Due to declining exports the economy becomes less competitive given that 2 measures of competitiveness are current account and share of exports in the world market
  • Economic growth can worsen through aggregate demand as X-M becomes smaller and sometimes even a negative number

Marshall Lerner Condition - as long as elasticities are greater than one therefore elastic. The J curve goes onto explain that the bettering of the current account cannot happen until it has got worse due to time lags, contracts with suppliers and consumer adjustment.

I haven’t written the effects of the depreciation of the £ as they are mere opposites

What are the costs and benefits of a monetary union - focusing on the eurozone?

Exports are expensive which is not good for countries where traditionally exports were cheaper
Security for the countries in it - Greece example
GDP per capita is still 70% of USA it is not catching up
Macroeconomic stability for those countries involved
Performance of countries is diverging because of the ‘one size fits all’ approach
Financial stability - strong euro
UK inflation is too high so theoretically a monetary union with the EU is not possible
16m new jobs created
Difference in housing market and economic structure
Average budget deficit has fallen by 0.6% of GDP 
The UK is not as flexible as the other countries like Germany at recovering from economic shock
Free trade and movement of labour makes the countries an attractive destination for FDI
The EU actually have a deflation (-0.5%) which is not something you would want to be ties down to.
European standards of living have increased drastically
Loss of control and macroeconomic policy
Exchange rate stability
Menu/Transitional costs
Promotes perfect knowledge and transparency.
Loss of national heritage


What is competitiveness?
The ability of a nation to compete successfully internationally and to sustain improvements in real output and wage.
What the different measures of competitiveness?
World Economic Forum came up with nine areas of measurement.
  1. Industrial relation - UK gets a high rating as employees have a good relation with the unions and this can be productive (unproductive too though).
  2. Levels of R&D - innovation spurs productivity
  3. Human Capital - level of education and training 
  4. Capital Investment as a proportion of GDP - shows I, growth, quality
  5. Current Account - Surplus is a sign of competitiveness
  6. Share of exports in the world market
  7. Relative unit labour costs; This affects the cost of production hence competitiveness. Relative unit costs can be calculated by diving total wages by real output. [like opp cost costs over gains]
  8. Productivity levels which can be calculated by total GDP/number of workers
  9. Economic growth rates
In 2008-2009 US was at the top!
What are the factors influencing a country’s competitiveness - This is similar to the different ways of measuring competitiveness but focuses on core issues such as wage rates which affect more than one method of measuring

  1. Productivity rates
  2. Wage rates
  3. Exchange rates 
  4. Regulations e.g. working hours, NMW
  5. Cost of living
  6. Tax
  7. Availability of labour
  8. Levels of R&D
  9. Technology
  10. Type of growth AS or AS - through C or I
  11. Relative inflation rates
  12. Quality of production - SR/LR
  13. Level of infrastructure
  14. Perhaps efficiencies 
What are the different things a government can do to improve competitiveness?

I have split the policies into supply side and non-supply side

Supply-Side policies:
  1. Education and training - better human capital increases productivity hence attracting TNCs and leading to an increase in real output. - Expensive + time lags involved
  2. Reducing National Minimum wage - Lower labour costs mean that more labour can be employed hence more can be produced thus attracting TNCs - unrealistic
  3. Reducing trade union power - Again this works by allowing countries to make the most out of their labour making their labour more productive and attracting TNCs. - unrealistic
Other policies which can improve the competitiveness of countries.
Deregulation - this means  that there are less costs involved (Albeit time costs) which makes productivity more efficient and attracts TNCs. The consequences of this however are unknown such as deregulation of banks were somewhat the cause of the recent global downturn.
Reducing interest rates  - This attracts investment and spurs productivity. - Issues with inflation which means in terms of foreign currency a country becomes uncompetitive. 
Increasing interest rates to maintain inflation which means price wise we become competitive however this leads to lower levels of investment which makes a country uncompetitive.
Subsidies and grants - This reduces costs for domestic firms making their exports seem cheaper and thus more competitive
Artificially maintaining exchange rates at a low level - This works by making the price of exports cheaper.

Any Case Studies
India and competitiveness
Policies employed by the government
  • Infrastructure Debt Fund - money to be spent over a long period of time through PPPs
  • Investment in private sector
  • Encouraging development of telecommunications
  • Encouraging tourism
What advantages does India have in terms of leading the way with IT?
  • Highly educated workforce
  • Good internet access and excellent international data communication links
  • Wages are one quarter or one tenth to that of Europe and America
  • Governments subsidizing 
UK and Competitiveness 
Notes for this are taken by the Guardian article “Innovation: Britain’s other deficit” by James Dyson
  • He emphasis on the need for real true R&D which leads to patentable products which plans such as the “Silicon Roundabout” in East London aren’t doing - we are just sticking to the likes of financial markets and Google and Facebook at best.
  • He supports Obamas corporate tax cuts and increased investment in R&D for those reasons.
  • He also goes on to talk about education and training being a key part in all this.
So what are the strategies to become competitive that he suggests?
  1. Tax credits to encourage R&D
  2. Cut corporation tax
  3. Student loans to be lower and paid off
  4. Maths and science teachers paid more
Issues with Dyson’s proposals
  • Time lags
  • Expensive especially when austerity measure are being implemented
  • Opportunity costs

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Poverty and Inequality Table

In this post I will examine the causes and causes of inequality and poverty in developed and developing countries.

Developed Countries
Developing Countries
Causes of Poverty
  • Debt
  • Poverty trap
  • Lack of government support
  • Decline in manufacturing sector - structural issues
  • Lack of availability of suitable loans
  • Subsistence farming
  • Corrupt government
  • Poor healthcare and infrastructure
  • Lack of technological development
Causes of Inequality
  • Difference in wages and salaries - skills, discrimination and location
  • Unemployment and retirement
  • Ownership of financial assets
  • Tax systems
  • Inheritance 
  • Overcrowding in cities - urban sprawl
  • Corruption
  • NGOs which specifically target individual groups such as women and children
  • Exploitation
  • Access to credit institutions
Consequences of Poverty
  • Crime
  • Constraint on growth - C
  • Poor standards of living
  • Unable to receive a decent education
  • Savings gap issues
  • Subsistence farming
  • Constraint on growth
  • Poor health and standards of living
Consequences of Inequality
  • Constraints of growth - Capital flight and low marginal propensity to save (MPS)
  • Increase in M - constraint on growth
  • Social consequences like anti social behavior
  • Crime
  • Constraint on growth 
  • Exploitation
  • Social issues like rich people having to own helipads
  • Crime

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Contingency Definition of a miracle

In this video I explain RF Holland's and Paul Tillich's view on the contingency definition of a miracle.