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Philosophy essay help


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Hello,

I'm not asking anyone to check my essay but i'm wondering; what makes a good philosophy essay? If it's different between SL and HL please show the difference as i do higher.

I did an essay (it was one of those where you have to evaluate a statement ''blah blah blah' Evaluate this claim'' those ones) and my teacher didn't give me that much feed back apart from make your conclusion stronger. It was only a page and a half ...

Any help would be appreciated :)

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As a rule I'd say there are a number of things you have to cover in your essay to make it a 'good' essay. Every essay you write you should think through the same kind of formula:

- firstly identify two different approaches to the philosophical issue posed in the question and make sure that they're issues which you've got a decent understanding of (slash can write a good paraphrased and shortened explanation of in which you sound smart) and also which are sufficiently dissimilar to each other that they have a different approach or point of contention between them

- secondly you want to pull up a line of argument right from the beginning and carry it on throughout. By throughout I mean make constant references back to it - don't get distracted.

Once you've got those down then there are a few important aspects you have to make sure you refine within your essay.

Firstly you want to make very clear and very good explanations of all of the philosophical theories you're going to discuss. Conveniently some theories actually can be applied to almost any scenario (yep I'm talking about Existentialism) and so you can actually just learn a set of really eloquent explanations of these and put them in pretty much any essay you write. I can't even begin to recount the number of times I've explained Existentialism in an essay :P You'll get marks for being able to express a clear understanding and explanation on this one, so that's a place where you can make the difference between an 'average' and a really good essay.

Secondly you want to make your arguments very insightful. This more or less just means exploring the exact details of the way in which your chosen philosophical theories match up to the issue at hand. This can be done in a superficial way or in a way which gives very close analysis and it's basically the closeness of your analysis and trying to have some evidence of original (and deep) thought which earns you the brownie point marks here.

Thirdly make sure you point out flaws in both the theories! Somehow work this into your essay. All theories have at least one major flaw you should know off by heart even if you can't spot the smaller ones (good essays follow all arguments through logically and find small flaws too, I should point out) - e.g. Descartes examining every assumption except for the base assumption of the existence of God, Kant's categorical imperatives failing to deal with situations in which two duties conflict... etc.

...and yes a strong conclusion for sure. Make sure you very definitively re-round up your ideas and then have a really pointed conclusion re: the concept of evaluating the statement and explain why you judged your conclusion to be as it is. So the format is a bit like "Therefore, although the existentialist might argue ______, in reality it seems to me that this is impractical and unrealistic/based on ideals which don't work/some kind of good reason why you're dumping one in favour of another, whereas, whilst it may not always account for every situation BLAH's theory of BLAH seems to have greater practical utility. Consequently..." <--- basically just summing up and making it very clear where you realise the errors are. In other words obviously 'evaluating' :P

Also write a lot. Genuinely, provided your arguments are good, the more arguments, ideas, flaws, weaknesses, strengths etc. you can put down on the page in a given frame of time the better your essay is going to be.

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Well to be honest there's not a big emphasis on examples to my understanding. I mean, examples where relevant in order to explain what you're saying about flaws but only as support to your argument. It's mostly about your argument. The fundamental skill is how well you can use theories learned elsewhere to pick apart something new. If you're doing essays with example after example there's clearly something lacking in your argument and essay structure because endless examples do not a good/fluent essay make :P Although they might make a TOK essay.

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