Writing a Philosophical Essay

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Philosophical writing is technical writing. Philosophy is, among
other things, the art of making distinctions. Philosophical analysis consists of clarifying meanings. Logic is a matter of being consistent in what you say. Neither last nor least important, what you say and how you say it has ontological and epistemological implications. Philosophers should be aware of these implications.

– Richard A Watson, Writing Philosophy: A Guide to
Professional Writing and Publishing

Key Component of an Essay:

Introduction: It includes a brief background and a clear statement of the purpose and scope of the essay. Here, one can briefly state the arguments and the possible conclusion. (Stating what you are going to establish in the essay.)

Body: It can be divided into two parts: (a) explain the purpose of your essay, then make your arguments. Explain the technical terms you are using. See if there is an underlying assumption in it; (b) justify the arguments. In this part, tell the readers why they should believe in your arguments. Try to answer the possible objections.

Conclusion: It is a summary of what you have established in your essay. You can ask further questions in this part. No new point should be made in this part. A conclusion should not be an exaggeration. Its main purpose is to wrap up the essay. (Explaining briefly how your arguments justify the conclusion.)

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Preparation for the Essay

The first step of essay writing is to choose a significant topic. The topic must be relevant to current debates. It should neither be too broad or general nor should it be too narrow. So keep asking yourself why it is relevant and why it is so important to you. Try to figure out the answers.

How to Choose a Topic:

  • Go through the readings carefully.
  • Read scholarly articles related to your topic.
  • Take notes on what you have understood.
  • Underline important paragraphs.
  • Try to find gaps in the arguments.
  • Revisit your notes.
  • Identify the purpose and scope.
  • Identify the problem and arguments

Drafting the essay

  • Go back to your notes again.
  • Start with a rough draft (vomit draft). Write whatever is in your mind. Just vomit it on the paper
  • Identify the structure of the essay.
  • Keep recalling the purpose of the essay.
  • Engage with the arguments critically.
  • Explain technical terms Improve your draft by revising it again and again.

Editing the Essay

  • Once you write a draft, you will have a clearer picture of your essay’s structure. Edit your current draft accordingly.
  • Check the grammar and spelling mistakes.
  • Edit boldly. Do not hesitate to delete the irrelevant information in the essay.
  • Keep the aim of your essay in mind and revise your draft accordingly.

Important tips

  • Start early. Give yourself time to engage with the problem and arguments.
  • Avoid grammatical mistakes.
  • Discuss your essay with others so that you can get some critical remarks and a broader picture of how to go with the problem.

The above steps are only a suggestion. Keep in mind that there is no one way to proceed with your writing. In fact, you can have your own way of writing too. Until you figure out that, you can use the above steps.

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