How to Write a Philosophical Essay
How to Write a Philosophical Essay
Majority of new philosophy students find philosophical essay writing difficult and new experience to them. Undoubtedly, most students are a little uncertain of what are expected of them, or what to expect because the expectations are differ from those in the other disciplines. Philosophical essay is slightly different from the other essays written in school. For a student to write a good essay, he/she must determine logical relations between his/her thoughts and must not rely on a collection of unintegrated assertions (Solomon & Higgins, 2014)).
A philosophical essay contains a thought through defense of a particular claim. The essay should offer an argument and must not contain mere report of one’s opinion nor other people’s opinions. The student writing a philosophical essay must offer a well-reasoned defense of the claims he/she is making and offer justifications to believe them (Seech, 2003).
The essay may aim to accomplish many things. The starting point is putting the argument on the table to be considered. The next step is to do one of the following: (1) criticize the argument (2) defend the claim (3) review the thesis or (4) discuss the ramifications of the thesis. A good essay makes small points and is modest, it supports the points by offering good reasons. However, the points made should be straightforward and clear (Seech, 2003).
The aim of the essay is for the student to show that he/she has knowledge about the material and is in a position to think critically. This is achieved when the essay portrays independent thinking. This does not necessarily mean that the student is required to make an entirely new contribution or to create his/her own theory. An ideal essay will include thoughtful analytical responses, and will be straightforward and clear. It is not mandatory for the essay to be founded on completely new ground (Department of philosophy, 2016).
Types of philosophical essays are case studies, research essays and thesis essays. In a case study, one is expected to deal with a particular case in relation to the issues discussed. Research essay requires one to use additional sources in the essay that are different from those used in class. In a thesis essay, the student is required to give a claim and defend it by responding to concerns and giving arguments (Feinberg J. and Shafer-Landau, 2001).
To write good philosophical essay, these stages should be followed: (1) early stages (2) writing a draft, and (3) rewriting. The early stage of philosophy essay writing includes everything a student does before writing his/her first draft. In the early stage, the student discusses his/her idea with others; this helps the student arrange, comprehend and develop his/her idea better. Another way of writing a well-structured essay is to make an outline. The student is in a position to structure and identify his/her main argument with the help of an outline.
The next stage is writing a draft taking the following points into consideration: points made must be clear and to the point, and technical terms used should be explained or defined. Unrelated topics should not be mixed up. Instead, a particular topic should be addressed first and dealt with before introducing the next topic. It is in order to assume that the person who will read the essay has no prior knowledge of the topics addressed in the essay (Berkeley).
The last stage is rewriting the essay draft once it has been completed. The student should read the draft again and get feedback from others by showing them the draft. If possible other people should discuss the draft and thereafter express their comments. The student may use these comments to improve on his/her essay. The essay draft may be rewritten more than once until a fine copy is obtained (Moorhead).
A good essay has an introduction and conclusion. Introduction of the essay should inform the reader what the essay is about and the main thesis in the essay. The student should avoid using a general opening statement in the introduction. The essay should be wrapped up in a proper way. Conclusion sometimes sets out setbacks that still remain (Chudnoff, 2008).
Berkeley, I. (n.d.). How to Write a Philosophy Paper.
Chudnoff, E. (2008). A Guide to Philosophical Writing. Retrieved from Harvard College Writing Center.
Department of Philosophy, U. o. (2016). Philosophical Writings. A Journal for Postgraduates and New Academics.
J. Feinberg and R. Shafer-Landau. (2001). Doing Philosophy: A Guide to the Writing of Philosophy Papers.
Martinich, P. (1996). Philosophical Writing. Cambridge: Blackwell.
Moorhead, M. S. (n.d.). How to Wr ite Philosophy Essays. Minnesota: Offical Guide of the Philosophy Department.
Seech, Z. (2003). Writing Philosophy Papers, (4th ed. ed.). Blackwell: Oxford.
Solomon, R. & Higgins, K. (2014) The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy, 9th
Edition. Cengage. ISBN: 9781133610649
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