IAS Mains Philosophy 2019 Topic-wise Important Questions

Download PDF of This Page (Size: 150K)

Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume): Theory of Knowledge; Substance and Qualities; Self and God; Scepticism

  1. Give a critical account of Hume’s theory of self. (2013/12 ½)

  2. Critically examine John Locke’s categorization of primary and secondary qualities and explain the problem it posed for later empiricist.(2012/15)

  3. If ‘to be is to be perceived’ then how does Berkeley explain the permanence of things? (2012/15)

Social & Political Ideas

  1. Explain and evaluate Aristotle’s conception of Justice. (250 words/UPSC-2013)

  2. “Equality stands for equal treatment with equals and unequal treatment with unequal’s”- Aristotle. Comment. (250 words)

  3. What is meant by justice as fairness’? Explain the basic tenets of Rawls’ theory of justice. (250 words/UPSC-2013)

  4. How is Amartya Sen’s approach to justice different from that of Rawls? (250 words/UPSC-2013)

  5. The Fundamental idea of the conception of Justice is fairness. Discuss. (250 words/UPSC-2011)

  6. “Man is sovereign over his body, mind & soul”-Mill. Comment. (250 words)


  1. Why did Kautilya think that sovereignty is hierarchical? Explain (200 words/UPSC 2010)

  2. Explain Kautilya’s Saptanga Theory of Sovereign State.(200 words/UPSC 2008)

  3. Explain notion of sovereignty. Critically consider the claim that sovereignty is illimitable & logically indivisible. (200 words/UPSC 2006)

Individual & State

  1. What is the significance of including duties of citizens in the Indian Constitution? (150 words/UPSC 2013)

  2. Are the claims of the State & the individual really mutually conflicting? Discuss. (200 words/UPSC 2000)

Form of Government

  1. Is a democratic government better than a benevolent dictatorship? Give reasons for your answer. (250 words/UPSC 2013)

  2. Is a democratic government able to represent the interests of minority groups? (250 words/UPSC 2013)

  3. Explain nature of theocracy. In which way it is related to Secularism. Critically analyses. (200 words)

Crime and Punishment

  1. You are not punished for stealing the sheep, but you are punished so that no sheep is stolen. Discuss to which theory of punishment, the statement belongs (200 words/UPSC 2009)

  2. Does corruption have not only a moral dimension but also an economic dimension? (200 words/UPSC 2013)

  3. Can capital punishment be justified? Give reasons for your answer.(250 words/UPSC 2011)

Gender Discrimination

  1. What do you understand by ‘gender equality’ and why is it important? (250 words/UPSC 2013)

  2. Is economic independence essential for equality between men and women? (250 words/UPSC 2013)

  3. What in your view is source of gender inequality? Is it primarily rooted in human biology? In what way can this inequality be bridged? (250 words/UPSC 2003)

Indian Philosophy-Charvaka

  1. Why do Charvaka reject the concept of Akasa? [UPSC-2011/ 250 words]

  2. State and evaluate critically Charvaka’s view that perception is the only valid source of knowledge. [UPSC-2002/ 250 words]

  3. Inference is not possible, as it involves the fallacy of petition-principal. ‘Comment. [UPSC-1990/ 250 words]

  4. The Charvaka system is not a consistent metaphysic; it is only a crude form of hedonism. Analyse. [UPSC-1992/ 250 words]

  5. Charvaka’s refutation of Anumana is itself a process of Anumana. Comment. [UPSC-2003/ 250 words]

  6. The soil is nothing but the conscious body. Comment. [UPSC-1998/ 250 words]

  7. Charvaka’s metaphysics is the logical culmination of his epistemology. Critically analyse. [250 words]

  8. Charvaka’s Views on Nature of Soul. (2007/200 Words)

  9. Discuss the theory of knowledge, according to Charvaka philosophy.(2006/200 Words)

  10. Dehatmavada of Charvakas? (2004/300 Words)

  11. Charvaka’s refutation of Anumana is itself a process of Anumana. Discuss? (2003/300 Words)

Indian Philosophy-Jainism

  1. Analyse the relation between the theory of Saptabhanginaya and Anekantavada. [UPSC-2013/250 words]

  2. Expound Anekantavada of Jainism. Is it a consistent theory of reality? Give reason. [UPSC-2003/250 words]

  3. Why is Saptabhanginaya not treated as a doctrine of Scepticism? Discuss.[UPSC 2011/250 words]

  4. What according to Jainism is path to liberation? Discuss.[CSM 2011/250 words]

  5. Is Syadvada a self-contradictory doctrine? Discuss. [UPSC 2010/300 words]

  6. Explain theory of substance according to Jainism.[UPSC 2006/250 words]

  7. Syadvada is a theory of relativity of knowledge. Comment.[250 words]

  8. What arguments does Jains give for Anekantavada ?[250 words]

Indian Philosophy-Buddhism

  1. “The Madhyamika philosophy tries to adopt the mean between extreme affirmation and extreme negation.” Comment. [UPSC 2008/250 words]

  2. State and discuss the Buddhist notion of Sunyata. [UPSC 2005/250 words]

  3. State and discuss the Buddhist notion of Momentariness. [UPSC 2004/250 words]

  4. Discuss Four Arya Satya (Noble Truths) according to Buddhism. [UPSC 2007/250 words]

  5. Explain the Buddhists’ position of ‘Impermanence’ and show how the idea of Impermanence leads to the theory of momentariness of reality. [UPSC 2013/250 words]

  6. Is the concept of Nirvana a logical necessity for the Buddhists? Give reasons for your answer. [UPSC 2011/300 words]

  7. How does the Buddhist accept the possibility of rebirth in absence of an eternal soul? Discuss. [UPSC 2010/250 words]

  8. What is the importance of Buddhist concept of ‘Nama-Rupa’ in the exposition of the Doctrine of Dependent Origination? [UPSC 2010/250 words]

  9. Comment: ‘Accepting sunyavada makes one indifferent to the pursuit of dharma.’ Examine, in this context, Nagarjuna’s arguments for sunyavada. [UPSC 2013/250 words]

  10. Explain Buddhist doctrine of Pratitya Samutapada. [UPSC 1995/250 words]


  1. Write short notes on Equality. (200 words)

  2. Analyse the concept of Equality and discuss the relationship between Equality and Justice? (200 words)

  3. Unless the ideal of equality is embedded within a broader theory of politics and society, it can be given no specific content- Notes. (200 words)

  4. Analyse the idea of equality and show its relation, if any to the concept of justice. (200 words)

  5. Discuss the relationship between liberty and equality. (200 words)

  6. Comment on the relationship between Equality and Freedom. (200 words)

  7. According to some liberal political thinkers, Social and economical inequalities can be justified only if they work to the advantage of the least advantage members of Society. Is this view consistent with Liberalism’s cardinal advocacy of individual freedom? Discuss. (300 words)

  8. Does the idea of equal respect to all religions provide a consistent and viable state policy? (200 words)

  9. What do you understand by ‘gender equality’ and why is it important? (200 words)

  10. Is economic independence essential for equality between men and women? (200 words)

Western Philosophy

  1. Explain Plato’s ontological theory of Forms. Is knowledge one of the Forms? Explain. (2013: 12 ½)

  2. Discuss how by refuting different concepts of Substances Aristotle establishes his own theory of a Substance? (2013/10)

  3. Discuss Aristotle’s metaphysical theory as a polemic against Plato’s theory of ideas.(2012/15)

  4. How does Plato relate the world of ideas to the empirical world? Discuss. (2011/15)

Sail through IAS Mains and Prelims (both English & Hindi): Fully-explained Prelims (Both GS & Aptitude) problems with detailed solutions. Notes & detailed answers for Mains GS, Essay, Complulsory (Hindi and English) papers and optionals.