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Philosophy Essay

Structuring a Philosophy Essay: Guidelines for a Distinctive Quality  

A philosophy essay, unlike any other type of essay needs to be structured as a logical argument. Here are tips on how to structure that argument.

The heart of philosophy is in making arguments deducted from a fact, or from a theory. Philosophers are groomed in the art of making logical arguments. As such, a philosophy essay is anchored on making a logical argument from the proposal through to deductive reasoning, and terminating with a synthesised conclusion. How well an essay proposes, makes, and validates that logical argument defines its quality, and consequently, its score. In the next few sections, this paper will provide key guidelines on how to structure a paper’s philosophical argument, in the form of an essay.

Onset of An Argument’s Roadmap

A philosophy essay should always start its introduction with a succinct thesis statement. The thesis statement identifies the subject of the paper’s argument, makes a summative statement, and defines how the statement is deducted, either from fact of theory. In so doing therefore, the thesis statement defines the position of the writer. Following the position statement, the thesis then identifies the sequence in which, that position would be defended or deduced (roadmap), thereafter.

It is therefore important that the first paragraph of any philosophical essay provide a succinct roadmap of the entire paper. The thesis statement can be the first or last statement of the introductory paragraph. Rather than make a claim, the thesis statement should simply make the position known, as an outcome of a logical argumentation sequence. Rather than say, “the behaviour is acceptable” (claim) the thesis statement should preferably state, “given the widespread popularity and lack of any ethical prohibitions, the behaviour has gained social acceptance” (argument).

The starting point of the essay should therefore define what is included thereafter. This is the point in which any general theory or concept upon which the essay is based should be identified. Further, the paper should provide a directive of how the conclusion will be drawn in subsequent sections of the essay. How well the reader understands the flow and structure of the essay determines their estimation and judgement of the quality attained.  

Crafting an Argumentative Structure

Once the roadmap is established, the next step is to initiate an argument. All philosophical essays are argumentative, largely reliant of expository writing. The argument must however start with a proposal, which is then validated and or defended in a logical sequence of the argument. When the essay is a course assignment, it should be based on logical connections between facts and their deducted implications, and backed by accurate academic backing.

Whether the essay is based on a theory or a concept, its arguments should follow credible citations. This helps highlight the opposing sides of an argument, and then helps establish which of the two sides the essay supports, with justifications. A philosophy essay is defined by having the structure of an argument, consolidated with adequate support and backing. The secret is in making a critical evaluation of the facts or claims, and giving one side of the argument convincing credibility.

Optimising Flow and Clear Exposition

Exposition writing largely relies on progressive, yet accurate and logical reasoning. It relies on a clear sequence of thought towards a convincing conclusion. The goal of a philosophy essay is always based on making clear connections between several philosophical statements and standpoints, and therefrom deducing a conclusion as directed by an essay’s requirements.

The essay must therefore optimise the flow of the argument, and by so doing, always expose the conclusive logic accruing from those connections. If the flow is interrupted, or sections of the essay are disjointed, the entire essay loses form and structure. As such, focus must always remain in making progressive flow, where each statement is connected to the next, until you reach a conclusion. That flow, when clear, logical, and progressive, earmarks the quality of the essay.

Punctuating the Essay with Critical Reflection

Philosophy is largely more on proving something is right or wrong, than it is about describing something. A philosophy essay does not simply describe what one author of philosopher said or stated. It should not be a series of descriptive statements. Rather, the essay should be about critiquing what has been said or is known, and deducing implications and consequences. Criticism is the very art of philosophy, and must always address the strengths and weaknesses of every supposition. Ideally, everything stated in the essay should be evaluated critically, and only accepted upon validation.

Consequently, the essay should make critical reflections of facts and claims, analytically presenting both sides of an argument, and then making an informed assessment towards the conclusion. Indicatively therefore, the use of the words ‘while,’ ‘though,’ ‘although,’ ‘given,’ etc. is a common feature of quality philosophical essays. The focus remains on making evaluative critiques of an argument plot, where assorted arguments are validated and measured comparatively. How well the essay integrates reflective criticism defines its quality.  

Conclusion: Language and the Big Picture

Finally, to conclude on profiling a philosophy essay, it is always important to have the big picture of the essay. From the first paragraph to the last, the essay should drive towards one conclusive point. Anything included in the essay must build towards that conclusion. The big picture of the essay helps identify what to include in the argument, which side to support and validate, and how to develop the argument towards the conclusion.

It is therefore very important to know what the essay is going to prove of validate before you start writing.  Thereafter, the language used, how the statements are presented and arranged should therefore build into the big picture. Essay assignments in philosophy always indicate the core theme of each paper, and the purpose of role of the essay. The essay should exclusively focus on this big picture. The big picture determines the thesis statement, as well as the conclusion. When the essay uses flow and language towards that big picture, and the supports all the arguments made, it gains impeccable quality.

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