Note: first assessment 2016; latest philosophy guide.
The Philosophy IA for the students at both SL and HL has consisted of producing a philosophical analysis of a non-philosophical stimulus. The task is the same, but the IA will weigh 25% of your final grade if you are an SL student, and 20% if you are an HL student.
You must identify a philosophical issue raised by the stimulus and analyze it in a philosophical way. Suitable stimuli include novels, lyrics, films, images, and paintings.
If your source material is an image or contains 200 words or fewer, you must include a copy of this material. If the source material contains more than 200 words or is, for example, a long scene in a movie, you must include a description of the stimulus which must not exceed 200 words. Please don’t forget that all stimulus material must be accurately referenced, too!
Once you have chosen a stimulus, you must ask a philosophical question. Then you should go on to develop the body paragraphs of the IA. In them, you must answer your questions with at least two different perspectives (based on different theories, philosophers’ works, etc.). Finally, you should analyze their responses critically.
The IA is marked according to five different criterion:
Criteria A: Identification of issue & justification (3 marks)
The philosophical issue raised by the stimulus must be clearly and explicitly identified. There must be a clear justification of the connection between the stimulus and the philosophical issue identified. A good justification is one that clearly shows why your question is related to the stimulus by describing the stimulus and identifying the topic that could be explored through it (identity, human nature, ethics, etc.)
Criteria B: Clarity (4 marks)
The response must be well structured, focused and effectively organized. The response must be clear and coherent.
Criteria C: Knowledge & understanding (4 marks)
The response must contain relevant, accurate and detailed knowledge. There must be a well-developed explanation of the philosophical issue. There must be appropriate use of philosophical vocabulary throughout the response.
Criteria D: Analysis (8 marks)
The response must contain well-developed critical analysis. The examples used must be well chosen and lend support to the argument. Counter-arguments must be identified and analyzed in a convincing way.
Criteria E: Evaluation (6 marks)
There must be clear evaluation of alternative interpretations or points of view. All, or nearly all, of the main points must be justified. The response must argue from a consistently held position. The conclusion must be clearly stated and it must be consistent with the argument.
These two last criteria can be a bit confusing, as the line between them may seem blurred. In short, “Analysis” means critically breaking down the perspectives that you have used to answer your philosophical question, thinking about the implications and presuppositions of the ideas you explained.
On the other hand, “Evaluation” essentially means comparing the perspectives you used to answer your questions. You mainly do this in your conclusion, but you can also do this throughout the body of your essay. Here is where you’ll also choose the perspective you agree with and explain why.
The Philosophy IA allows students to deeply reflect on an issue that matters to them, so take this opportunity to learn about different views and think deeply about something that you care about!