Either way, this type of essay differs greatly from those you got used to in your other courses. It goes without saying that philosophy essays, just like any other writing tasks, take some time for preparation, research, and considering the ideas for your future paper.
Still, the general picture and the essence of the philosophy essay is different from everything you have experienced before. So, before starting the writing process, we should probably clarify all the most important aspects of the philosophy paper, the one you have to deal with.
What Is a Philosophy Essay? We have mentioned already that a philosophy essay is different from other types of essays. But what exactly does it mean? What is a philosophy essay and how should students deal with one? Well, it is not a research paper or a term paper in a classical meaning of the word.
Neither it is a way to demonstrate your excellent writing abilities and talents. Writing a philosophy essay is not restating the already known positions of famous philosophers and scientists unless we are speaking about a philosophy research paper. An essay on philosophy is still not some description of an experiment or a discovery. A philosophy essay is all about providing an argument and some evidence for it.
One has to be very specific and precise when it is about a philosophy essay writing. Never deviate from the topic if you want your essay to be successful. Moreover, it is better to provide a less number of reasons that support your idea but make them deep and strong. The first and foremost rule of philosophy essays is the clarity of evidence provided. Keep in mind that you have to sound serious and authoritative because it is not a joke you are writing.
You only have a piece of paper and your thoughts to impress and convince your audience. Obviously, philosophy essays are not a piece of cake considering the fact that you probably have other assignments as well. RocketPaper is glad to present you expert writing services and take care of your problem as soon as you need. RocketPaper and its Offers. The writing service of RocketPaper has a rich experience of creating philosophy essays and other papers. We want to assure you that when you choose us as the place to buy your papers from, you will for sure receive the superior quality papers on time.
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You have to offer reasons to believe them. So you can't just say: My view is that P. You must say something like: I believe this because I find that the following considerations Similarly, don't just say: Descartes says that Q. Instead, say something like: Descartes says that Q; however, the following thought-experiment will show that Q is not true I find this claim plausible, for the following reasons There are a variety of things a philosophy paper can aim to accomplish. It usually begins by putting some thesis or argument on the table for consideration.
Then it goes on to do one or two of the following: Criticize that argument; or show that certain arguments for the thesis are no good Defend the argument or thesis against someone else's criticism Offer reasons to believe the thesis Offer counter-examples to the thesis Contrast the strengths and weaknesses of two opposing views about the thesis Give examples which help explain the thesis, or which help to make the thesis more plausible Argue that certain philosophers are committed to the thesis by their other views, though they do not come out and explicitly endorse the thesis Discuss what consequences the thesis would have, if it were true Revise the thesis, in the light of some objection No matter which of these aims you set for yourself, you have to explicitly present reasons for the claims you make.
Students often feel that since it's clear to them that some claim is true, it does not need much argument. But it's very easy to overestimate the strength of your own position. After all, you already accept it. You should assume that your audience does not already accept your position; and you should treat your paper as an attempt to persuade such an audience. Hence, don't start with assumptions which your opponents are sure to reject.
If you're to have any chance of persuading people, you have to start from common assumptions you all agree to. A good philosophy paper is modest and makes a small point ; but it makes that point clearly and straightforwardly, and it offers good reasons in support of it People very often attempt to accomplish too much in a philosophy paper. The usual result of this is a paper that's hard to read, and which is full of inadequately defended and poorly explained claims.
So don't be over-ambitious. Don't try to establish any earth-shattering conclusions in your page paper. Done properly, philosophy moves at a slow pace. Originality The aim of these papers is for you to show that you understand the material and that you're able to think critically about it. To do this, your paper does have to show some independent thinking. That doesn't mean you have to come up with your own theory, or that you have to make a completely original contribution to human thought.
There will be plenty of time for that later on. An ideal paper will be clear and straightforward see below , will be accurate when it attributes views to other philosophers see below , and will contain thoughtful critical responses to the texts we read. It need not always break completely new ground. But you should try to come up with your own arguments, or your own way of elaborating or criticizing or defending some argument we looked at in class.
Merely summarizing what others have said won't be enough. Three Stages of Writing 1. Early Stages The early stages of writing a philosophy paper include everything you do before you sit down and write your first draft. These early stages will involve writing , but you won't yet be trying to write a complete paper.
You should instead be taking notes on the readings, sketching out your ideas, trying to explain the main argument you want to advance, and composing an outline. Discuss the issues with others As I said above, your papers are supposed to demonstrate that you understand and can think critically about the material we discuss in class.
One of the best ways to check how well you understand that material is to try to explain it to someone who isn't already familiar with it. I've discovered time and again while teaching philosophy that I couldn't really explain properly some article or argument I thought I understood. This was because it was really more problematic or complicated than I had realized. You will have this same experience. So it's good to discuss the issues we raise in class with each other, and with friends who aren't taking the class.
This will help you understand the issues better, and it will make you recognize what things you still don't fully understand. It's even more valuable to talk to each other about what you want to argue in your paper. When you have your ideas worked out well enough that you can explain them to someone else, verbally, then you're ready to sit down and start making an outline.
Make an outline Before you begin writing any drafts, you need to think about the questions: In what order should you explain the various terms and positions you'll be discussing? At what point should you present your opponent's position or argument?
In what order should you offer your criticisms of your opponent? Do any of the points you're making presuppose that you've already discussed some other point, first? The overall clarity of your paper will greatly depend on its structure. That is why it is important to think about these questions before you begin to write.
I strongly recommend that you make an outline of your paper, and of the arguments you'll be presenting, before you begin to write. This lets you organize the points you want to make in your paper and get a sense for how they are going to fit together.
It also helps ensure that you're in a position to say what your main argument or criticism is, before you sit down to write a full draft of your paper. When students get stuck writing, it's often because they haven't yet figured out what they're trying to say.
Give your outline your full attention. It should be fairly detailed. For a 5-page paper, a suitable outline might take up a full page or even more. If you have a good outline, the rest of the writing process will go much more smoothly. Start Work Early Philosophical problems and philosophical writing require careful and extended reflection.
Don't wait until two or three nights before the paper is due to begin. That is very stupid. Writing a good philosophy paper takes a great deal of preparation.
You need to leave yourself enough time to think about the topic and write a detailed outline. Only then should you sit down to write a complete draft. Once you have a complete draft, you should set it aside for a day or two. Then you should come back to it and rewrite it. At least 3 or 4. If you can, show it to your friends and get their reactions to it.
Do they understand your main point? Are parts of your draft unclear or confusing to them? All of this takes time. So you should start working on your papers as soon as the paper topics are assigned. Write a Draft Once you've thought about your argument, and written an outline for your paper, then you're ready to sit down and compose a complete draft. Use simple prose Don't shoot for literary elegance.
Use simple, straightforward prose. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. We'll make fun of you if you use big words where simple words will do. These issues are deep and difficult enough without your having to muddy them up with pretentious or verbose language.
Don't write using prose you wouldn't use in conversation: You may think that since your TA and I already know a lot about this subject, you can leave out a lot of basic explanation and write in a super-sophisticated manner, like one expert talking to another. I guarantee you that this will make your paper incomprehensible. If your paper sounds as if it were written for a third-grade audience, then you've probably achieved the right sort of clarity.
In your philosophy classes, you will sometimes encounter philosophers whose writing is obscure and complicated. Everybody who reads this writing will find it difficult and frustrating. The authors in question are philosophically important despite their poor writing, not because of it. So do not try to emulate their writing styles. Make the structure of your paper obvious You should make the structure of your paper obvious to the reader.
Your reader shouldn't have to exert any effort to figure it out. Beat him over the head with it. How can you do this? First of all, use connective words, like: Be sure you use these words correctly! If you say " P. You had better be right. If you aren't, we'll complain. Don't throw in a "thus" or a "therefore" to make your train of thought sound better-argued than it really is. Another way you can help make the structure of your paper obvious is by telling the reader what you've done so far and what you're going to do next.
You can say things like: I will begin by Before I say what is wrong with this argument, I want to These passages suggest that I will now defend this claim Further support for this claim comes from These signposts really make a big difference. Consider the following two paper fragments: We've just seen how X says that P.
I will now present two arguments that not-P. My first argument is My second argument that not-P is X might respond to my arguments in several ways. For instance, he could say that However this response fails, because Another way that X might respond to my arguments is by claiming that This response also fails, because So we have seen that none of X's replies to my argument that not-P succeed. Hence, we should reject X's claim that P. I will argue for the view that Q. There are three reasons to believe Q.
The strongest objection to Q says However, this objection does not succeed, for the following reason Isn't it easy to see what the structure of these papers is? You want it to be just as easy in your own papers. The reader should never be in doubt about whose claims you're presenting in a given paragraph. You can't make the structure of your paper obvious if you don't know what the structure of your paper is, or if your paper has no structure.
That's why making an outline is so important. Be concise, but explain yourself fully To write a good philosophy paper, you need to be concise but at the same time explain yourself fully. These demands might seem to pull in opposite directions. It's as if the first said "Don't talk too much," and the second said "Talk a lot. We tell you to be concise because we don't want you to ramble on about everything you know about a given topic, trying to show how learned and intelligent you are.
Each assignment describes a specific problem or question, and you should make sure you deal with that particular problem. Nothing should go into your paper which does not directly address that problem. Prune out everything else. It is always better to concentrate on one or two points and develop them in depth than to try to cram in too much. One or two well-mapped paths are better than an impenetrable jungle.
Formulate the central problem or question you wish to address at the beginning of your paper, and keep it in mind at all times. Make it clear what the problem is, and why it is a problem.
Be sure that everything you write is relevant to that central problem. In addition, be sure to say in the paper how it is relevant. Don't make your reader guess. One thing I mean by "explain yourself fully" is that, when you have a good point, you shouldn't just toss it off in one sentence. Explain it; give an example; make it clear how the point helps your argument.
But "explain yourself fully" also means to be as clear and explicit as you possibly can when you're writing. It's no good to protest, after we've graded your paper, "I know I said this, but what I meant was Part of what you're being graded on is how well you can do that.
Pretend that your reader has not read the material you're discussing, and has not given the topic much thought in advance. This will of course not be true. But if you write as if it were true, it will force you to explain any technical terms, to illustrate strange or obscure distinctions, and to be as explicit as possible when you summarize what some other philosopher said.
In fact, you can profitably take this one step further and pretend that your reader is lazy, stupid, and mean. He's lazy in that he doesn't want to figure out what your convoluted sentences are supposed to mean, and he doesn't want to figure out what your argument is, if it's not already obvious.
He's stupid, so you have to explain everything you say to him in simple, bite-sized pieces. And he's mean, so he's not going to read your paper charitably. For example, if something you say admits of more than one interpretation, he's going to assume you meant the less plausible thing. If you understand the material you're writing about, and if you aim your paper at such a reader, you'll probably get an A.
Use plenty of examples and definitions It is very important to use examples in a philosophy paper. Many of the claims philosophers make are very abstract and hard to understand, and examples are the best way to make those claims clearer. Examples are also useful for explaining the notions that play a central role in your argument. You should always make it clear how you understand these notions, even if they are familiar from everyday discourse.
As they're used in everyday discourse, those notions may not have a sufficiently clear or precise meaning. For instance, suppose you're writing a paper about abortion, and you want to assert the claim " A fetus is a person. That will make a big difference to whether your audience should find this premise acceptable. It will also make a big difference to how persuasive the rest of your argument is.
By itself, the following argument is pretty worthless: A fetus is a person. It's wrong to kill a person. Therefore, it's wrong to kill a fetus. For we don't know what the author means by calling a fetus "a person. In a philosophy paper, it's okay to use words in ways that are somewhat different from the ways they're ordinarily used. You just have to make it clear that you're doing this. For instance, some philosophers use the word "person" to mean any being which is capable of rational thought and self-awareness.
Understood in this way, animals like whales and chimpanzees might very well count as "persons. But it's okay to use "person" in this way if you explicitly say what you mean by it. And likewise for other words. Don't vary your vocabulary just for the sake of variety If you call something "X" at the start of your paper, call it "X" all the way through. So, for instance, don't start talking about "Plato's view of the self, " and then switch to talking about "Plato's view of the soul, " and then switch to talking about "Plato's view of the mind.
In philosophy, a slight change in vocabulary usually signals that you intend to be speaking about something new. Using words with precise philosophical meanings Philosophers give many ordinary-sounding words precise technical meanings. Consult the handouts on Philosophical Terms and Methods to make sure you're using these words correctly.
Don't use words that you don't fully understand. Use technical philosophical terms only where you need them. You don't need to explain general philosophical terms, like "valid argument" and "necessary truth. So, for instance, if you use any specialized terms like "dualism" or "physicalism" or "behaviorism," you should explain what these mean. Likewise if you use technical terms like "supervenience" and the like.
Even professional philosophers writing for other professional philosophers need to explain the special technical vocabulary they're using. Different people sometimes use this special vocabulary in different ways, so it's important to make sure that you and your readers are all giving these words the same meaning. Pretend that your readers have never heard them before. Presenting and assessing the views of others If you plan to discuss the views of Philosopher X, begin by figuring out what his arguments or central assumptions are.
Are X's arguments good ones? Are his assumptions clearly stated? Are they reasonable starting-points for X's argument, or ought he have provided some independent argument for them? Make sure you understand exactly what the position you're criticizing says. Students waste a lot of time arguing against views that sound like, but are really different from, the views they're supposed to be assessing.
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