Tuesday, 15 February 2011


My advice on *this* essay;
1. Please use double spacing, and 12 point font so I have room to comment

2. Dont worry about referencing in the correct way for *this* essay. If you know how to use Havard/any other system please do, but dont worry if you dont. The Author, Title and pages is enough for this time. (***But wont be in future!)

3. What I really care about is ARUGMENTS.

The only thing relevant in your philosophy essay is the following:

  • A statment of your thesis (main idea), or an important thesis you reject.
  • An argument for your thesis which you accept
  • An important/influential argument for your thesis which you reject because you accept some counter-arguments against it.
  • An important/influential argument against your thesis which you reject because you accept a counter-argument against it.
  • The counter-arguments I’ve just mentioned.
4. Take a stand in your essay. All too often essays 'sit on the fence', spend time weighing up various views and conculde its all very complicated and theres no good answer. Its much better if you choose a thesis and do all you can to defend such a thesis - this is likely to provide much more evidence of philosophical skill in dealing with arugments (see point 3)

5. A brilliant essay will be;
Revelant to the question; see point 3. In addition make sure that the arugments in your essay are
A.for/against your thesis,
B.your thesis is relevant to the question

So in an essay with the thesis 'All war is unjust' and arugment that was is ILLEGAL is not revelant (unless you are aruging that being illegal entails being unjust)
Similarily, the above essay on war may be great, but wont attract good marks in response to a question about Kant. (Unless you can show that 1. Kant seems to hold that some wars are just 2. All war is unjust 3. Therefore Kant is wrong)

Show understanding
That is, it will be clear that the author understands their position, and the arugments offered for/against it

Have a clear structure
It will be clear where the essay is heading, and what each paragraph is supposed achieve. Feel free to use sub sections and/or numbered headings if this helps.
An introduction summing up what the essay is about and what you will be conculding and a conclusion showing how you did this.

Use clear and precise language

Have a clear thesis, which is aruged for
. See point 4. It is often a good idea to start your essay with a statment of your thesis; 'In this essay I will aruge that X'...

6. Secondary reading is **great**, but I understand this is your first essay and you dont have much time. I wont be marking down for the lack of secondary reading, but if you run out of things to talk about then you should think about doing some. If you can write 2,500 good words on the readings in the course pack, no problem.

Here are some links from the philosophy department about how to write essays;




And for what its worth, how you'll be assessed;


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