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Ben's comments

Writing in philosophy

I'm a Science/Arts student, and when I graduate I would probably like to do something Maths or Physics orientated. So I am used to doing Sciences probably more than I am Arts. But Sciences and Maths are different to Arts, particularly Philosophy in that Maths always has a definite and finite answer. It's a right or wrong situation in Maths, whereas in Philosophy although it can be wrong there's no definite answer, so long as you have points to justify your point of view you can say the most outlandish thing so long as it is justifiable and your argument...

How I chose the topic

When I get an essay I decide on the topic based on which of the options jumps out at me and appears to be the most interesting to me. If the topic is interesting to you, you can write more about it. I think that if you're interested in it it's easier to write a 1000 word essay than it is to write a 1000 word essay about something where you're just writing because you're obliged to. It's better to be interested, because that way you can sustain more of the essay and make it more like you're actually saying it rather than...

How I interpreted the topic

In my essay topic I felt that the main words that jumped out at me were always and everywhere and innocent human being; and the defeatist is an innocent human being. These jumped out at me as keywords because they emphasized they were always and everywhere in that they were never long, they were unbreakable.

Developing the argument

My essay topic was that it was always and everywhere wrong to kill an innocent human being: A human foetus is an innocent human being, so it is always and everywhere wrong to kill a human foetus - discuss.

From this essay topic, I analyzed the keywords as being always and everywhere and innocent human being. By feeling that always and everywhere were so important I could see that I felt that I could argue more convincingly that it is not always and everywhere wrong to kill an innocent human being or in this case a foetus. The question says discuss, so you can say your point of view. Since this is always and everywhere, that's really a large comment, it forces you to be one specific. If you say that it's true, then you're forced to say that it is always and everywhere wrong. By saying that it's not true, I could say that in some cases yes...

Planning my essay

I think that an essay plan is one of the most important things for an essay. When you're writing an essay, it's very important to have a plan, as it guides the way that you take the essay. From the essay plan, you can using your argument, your point of view-the point of view that you plan on taking in your essay, you can expand and make the points of your argument and justify whatever conclusion you draw from the argument you're making in the essay. Using a plan you can outline what will be in your introduction, each of your paragraphs and your conclusion. Using this you can pretty much just write the essay just from that rather than writing it 'off the cuff'.

Using quotes

I feel that quotes are necessary for any essay, particularly in Philosophy and Arts based essays, because it shows that you've done the research rather than just writing the essay. You can use quotes to back up your points, but it is important to not include too many quotes. If you include too many, the flow of your essay will be interrupted and the essay won't be as easy to read. I like to include quotes just in every second or maybe third paragraph, that way you have quotes to back up your point of view without slowing down the essay.

Writing the essay

When I have done my essay, the first thing that I always do is proof-read it myself. Just to check for any glaringly obvious errors. After that I usually get a friend or a parent or my brother or sister to read it. That way they can check over it and check for any mistakes I might miss. Because if you write something or I miss something, chances are I'll miss it when I read it again, because I'll see that error and think that it's natural; whereas if someone else reads it, they can pick up the mistakes. It also would've probably been a good idea for me in retrospect to get another Philosophy student to read it, another student doing the same material, just to check it...

Writing the introduction

In the main paragraph of the essay, when you're writing your plan, it's a good idea just to have dot points of what you wish to include. That way you won't forget anything when you come back to writing the essay. It's just a good idea to include dot points if your basic headings for example, my essay included, ' Does a woman's right to autonomy always over-ride the life of a baby, therefore or vice-versa does the baby always over-ride the mother's rights?' That was just one example of one of my dot points for paragraph one. And then in each successive paragraph, you just outline a main point of view that you're going to propose in that paragraph.

Writing the body

The introduction is the most important part of the plan, and one of the first elements that you have to add in. In the introduction you basically have to outline the point of view that you'll take, highlight the question itself and the argument that you're going to propose in the essay. It's a good idea to illustrate the points that you'll have and the way that you're going to lead with those points.

The conclusion

In the conclusion, it's important to sum up your argument. Just in like a speech or a debate, in a conclusion, you can't introduce any new information, you have to sum up your argument and basically play everything up and cover all your loose ends. The main point of the conclusion is just so that you don't leave the reader hanging; you've led the reader through your essay, and they've seen all your points and now the conclusion is just a ...so that the reader isn't just left.

Editing my essay

I feel that it's a good idea when writing an essay, even if it's only a 1000 words to do it in a couple of intervals rather than one. That way rather than writing for a solid time interval, you're writing over separate intervals, you get refreshed in-between, you've got more focus on the task. If you have a break in between, you can just go outside, kick around the football-what I did with my brother. Just continue with your essay after that, then you've re-charged, your brain has had a rest, rather than just writing solidly for x amount of hours going, "Ah, I really can't be bothered doing this."

Problems in my essay

One flaw with my essay was that in the second paragraph I slightly ambiguously and possibly incorrectly worded some philosophical terms. It's important that you get these right when writing you're essay, as having them wrong can be glaringly obvious to the marker, whereas not necessarily to you or to someone else on your level. Terminology is important in a philosophy essay, as it's a main component in first year Philosophy. The terms validity, soundness, premises, and conclusion are all necessary in your essay. Although, if you feel you're uncomfortable with one specific type you can put emphasis on the others rather than the one you're uncomfortable with; or you can always if you're unsure ask your ...

My lecturer's comments

I felt that the comments on my essay were justified, and in retrospect I can see how for example in the second paragraph I had a slight confliction with my references to certain terminology. Terminology is very important in Philosophy essays, therefore by looking at the feedback that you received from your tutor about your essay, you can reflect on what you've done wrong and be in better stead for the exam. For example in my essay, I looked at what the tutor had said about my second paragraph and using that I did some extra studying on that component of the course and was prepared for that when the exam came around.

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