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PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY

(Methodology)
What is it?
It is a piece of writing in which the student is asked to develop a philosophical
problem from a personal perspective but resorting to arguments, either belonging to
different philosophers from the history of philosophy or to real life examples, films,
literature It is therefore an argumentative essay, of modest dimensions (two to three
pages in one hour), of a question which invites to philosophical enquiry.
Introduction (3 points)
There are three tasks to accomplish:
1/ Analysis of the question from the distinct possible readings of the general
question, and preliminary and provisional definition of its terms. (1 point)
2/ Explanation of the question, connecting the different notions which have been
analyzed, to make clear what is at stake, the consequences of the possible conclusions.
3/ Presentation of further development and explanation of the question (forming
a hypothesis), indicating the common thread of the arguments of the exposition.
Exposition (6 points)
The exposition consists of an argument, that is, an ordered and progressive
reflection of a personal character (well have to make ours the mentioned references).
It respects the plan presented in the introduction and is articulated through transitions
(the different ideas have to be logically connected and not merely juxtaposed) since it is
a personal discussion and not a list of ideas separated in different paragraphs. It has to
lead to a conclusion.
An essay is not an electoral campaign; its aim is not to add votes for or against
something but to delve into a topic, to reflect about it. Fast and categorical judgments
have to be avoided; its perfectly possible to go into depth explaining ideas contrary to
our beliefs without betraying them. Prejudice is absolutely contrary to philosophy;
whats important is not to be right or wrong, but to be able to give arguments, and
reasons. A philosophical essay evaluates our capacity to correctly order our thinking; it
does not judge our ideas.
Conclusion (1 point)
The conclusion sums up in a few lines the entire discourse developed previously
and tries to answer the question laid out in the heading (no more, no less).
Formal criteria:
INTERNAL STRUCTURE: Relevance of the answer to the topic, clear exposition of
the main thesis, continuity and progression of argumentation, justification of the
conclusion from the arguments presented.
PERSONAL REFLECTION: Originality of the perspective, examples and arguments,
without resorting to stereotypes and clichs.
ARGUMENTATION: Coherence and quality of the arguments, enough and varied, well
founded and elaborated with objectivity.
EXPRESSION: Grammar, clarity and presentation

Useful Phrases for Writing Argumentative Essays (from the blog: Writing

skills intermediate)

To list arguments in the main body: In the first place, First of all, To start with, To
begin with, Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, Finally, In addition (to this), Furthermore,
Moreover, Besides, last but not least
Presenting arguments for: The main/first/most important advantage of ..., One major
advantage of ..., A further advantage ..., One/Another/An additional advantage of ...,
One point of view in favour of ..., It is often suggested/believed/argued that ...,
Some/Many people suggest/feel/argue that ..., Some/Many people are in favour of/are
convinced that ...,
Presenting arguments against: One major disadvantage of ..., The main/most
important disadvantage/drawback of ..., One/Another/An additional disadvantage of ...,
One point/argument against ..., Some/Many people are against ...,
Presenting examples, causes and results: for example/instance, such as, like, in
particular,therefore, for this reason, because, as, since, as a result,
To add more points to the same topic: what is more, furthermore, also, in addition to,
besides, apart from this/that, not to mention the fact that, etc.
To make contrasting points: on the other hand, however, despite/in spite of (the fact),
while, nevertheless, even though, although, it can be argued that, one can argue that, etc.
To conclude: to conclude/sum up, all in all, all things considered, in conclusion, on the
whole, taking everything into account, taking all this into account/consideration, above
all, as was previously stated, etc.
To list points: In the first place, first of all, to start with, in the first place, etc.
To add more points: what is more, another major reason, also, furthermore, moreover,
in addition to, besides, apart from this, not to mention the fact that, etc.
To introduce conflicting viewpoints: It is argued that, people argue that, opponents of
this view say, there are people who oppose, etc.