Philosophy Essays & Dissertations: Tips from 2 Pros

Philosophy Essays & Dissertations: Tips from 2 Pros

A philosophy essay is a relatively brief document that presents a writer's individual interpretation, analysis, or opinion regarding a specific philosophic idea, work, or concept.  Often, philosophy essays will present an analysis of one philosophic text or teaching and argue for a particular interpretation.  Other philosophy essays will examine a variety of philosophic views on a single topic or argue against the validity of certain schools of philosophic thought.  Some philosophy essays may even have the student discuss an issue using the student's own philosophic argument.  Although there are many varieties of philosophy essays, all of them share a focus on the writer's own ideas and analyses.  This is the way in which philosophy essays are different from philosophy research papers: philosophy essays are rooted in the writer's own, original interpretations.

Philosophy essays will typically be arguments, meaning they will seek to advance the writer's particular ideas or interpretations in a persuasive fashion.  These arguments should be cast in a clear and assertive sentence or group of sentences known as a thesis—the main point of the argument.  The report should then proceed to defend the argument using logic and analysis.  

It is common for a philosophy essay to be an analysis of a particular philosophic document.  In such philosophy essays, it is best for the student to select one very narrow aspect of the text to discuss.  For instance, a philosophy essay on Aristotle's The Politics may wish to make an argument about Aristotle's assessment of gender roles in the text.  This essay would then present its argument in a thesis statement, such as "Despite the historical context in which he was writing, it seems that Aristotle believed in the equality of the sexes."  Then, the writer would seek to defend this interpretation using various examples and quotations from The Politics as evidence.  This interpretation should be the student's own—not another scholar's.

Philosophy essays may also analyze how different philosophers have addressed a single topic.  For instance, an essay may discuss the similarities and differences between the views of Aristotle, Cicero, and Plato on the role of the political leader.  This essay would use examples from the writings of all three philosophers to explore its point about those philosopher's similarities and differences.

Other philosophy essays may seek to point out the inconsistencies or inadequacies of certain philosophic premises or schools of thought.  In this type of assignment, the writer would critically analyze a certain argument and point out its logical flaws.  

Some philosophy essays may require a learner to examine a particular ethical or philosophic issue using his or her own philosophic approach.  In such reports, the student should seek to apply his or her own logic and critical analysis to the issue at hand.

Every philosophy report should be written in a very academic and analytic tone.  To this end, all philosophy reports should avoid the use of the first-person voice ("I" and "me") and the inclusion of anecdotal or personal information.

Viewpoint of Author #2

A philosophy dissertation student in a doctoral philosophy program will need to write a PhD philosophy dissertation in order to graduate from the program with a PhD degree in philosophy.  A dissertation is a lengthy research document that learners write after they have spent an extended amount of time studying a particular, philosophical subject.  When it comes to writing a philosophy dissertation, there are many different topics that a student may wish to focus on for his or her research.  However, the general format for a philosophy dissertation will be the same as a dissertation for any other course.  

In order to write an effective philosophy dissertation, students need to start at the beginning by making sure that they understand what a dissertation is.  A dissertation is a document that learners write after they have researched something that interests them.  Unlike any other type of paper, the report often requires that students spend months or years researching a particular topic.  The dissertation is often the single document that will make or break a student's career.  

Students should understand the weight of the report before they move forward in order to ensure that they make good choices.  Once they understand the role of the report, they should make a concerted effort to select a dissertation topic that interests them.  Often, students select a topic that is related to something that they want to pursue as a career.  

With the topic selected, learners should write a philosophy dissertation proposal, which they will submit to an advisor and institution sponsoring the research.  Once the philosophy dissertation proposal is approved, learners should develop a firm plan for how they will go about researching their topic.  This research may involve experiments and interviews as well as traditional research methods, such as reading through books and periodicals.  

Students may begin writing their philosophy dissertations once they are satisfied that their research is complete.  Each philosophy report should begin from a comprehensive outline.  Also, philosophy reports should be reviewed and rewritten many times before they are officially submitted and copyrighted.  

A philosophy dissertation is very similar to many other types of academic works.  Just like many other student articles that a student may write, philosophy dissertations require learners to dedicate a vast amount of time to performing research on a topic.  However, due to the nature of philosophy dissertations, the thesis is the most important academic document that a learner will write.  Most students only write one report in a lifetime, but they may write many other types of academic works, such as essays or reports.

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