I think (no, I’m sure) that I have said this before; but you will probably have forgotten so I am going to say it again.
We have had this A-level specification since 2009. The 30-mark answer under the Reason & Experience topic (Q2 in the Unit 1 paper) is essentially the same every single time. Here’s a list of past questions.
Jan 2009 How convincing is the view that we are born with at least some (innate) knowledge?
June 2009 Critically discuss the view that all knowledge comes from, and is justified by, sense experience.
Jan 2010 How convincing is the view that sense experience is the source of all knowledge?
June 2010 ‘Without a predetermined conceptual scheme our sense experiences would be unintelligible.’ Discuss the implications of this for empiricism.
Jan 2011 At birth the mind is a tabula rasa.’ Discuss.
June 2011 Assess the claim that all knowledge and ideas derive from experience.
Jan 2012 Assess the view that we have no innate knowledge.
June 2012 Assess the view that no significant claims about what exists are known a priori.
Jan 2013 How convincing is the claim that at birth the mind is a tabula rasa?
What do you notice?
I hope you notice that on every single occasion they are asking you to evaluate empiricism.
What differs from paper to paper is the aspect, or the version, of empiricism that they ask you to evaluate.
Sometimes they focus on the claim that the mind is a tabula rasa.
Sometimes it is the claim that all synthetic knowledge is a posteriori/derived from experience.
Sometimes it is the claim that no knowledge is innate.
Sometimes it is the claim that all knowledge AND all ideas (concepts) derive from experience.
But that’s it. It’s always one or another of these things.
What are the implications for you?
Obvious, I hope: you should be aiming to have a pre-prepared formulaic essay rather like the Molesworth Self-Adjusting Thank-You letter (see image, if you are unfamiliar with this. (Or in fact, if you are unfamiliar with this, go now and ask your parents in outraged tones what the bloody hell they were thinking. How DID you spend your childhood?)).
Obviously the pre-prepared essay has to cover all relevant arguments relating to all relevant aspects of empiricism. And equally obviously you have to deploy some intelligence in the exam room in order to select the relevant arguments and to phrase things in a manner that demonstrates that you are answering the particular question set, rather than simply writing out something that you have memorised.
But all the same, the possible advantages here (and peace of mind) have to be priceless. You’d be mad not to, is my view…
Who, if anyone, wants me to talk about how such an all-purpose essay might go?