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What is the best essay structure for a philosophy essay?

When taking this course and asking this question students were often frustrated when met with a response such as "there is no best way, just make sure you include quotations, keywords etc..." Although that is essential, I found when I got my best marks in writing philosophy essays it was when I structured it in a continous flowing debate rather than the 'Point Evidence Explain' dogma of GCSE humanities. This means introducing your essay by explaining some context to primary scholars and their works, reeling off some "AO1" (knowledge) like names of books and dates, and outline how your essay will go by suggesting the criticisms of scholars you will discuss in depth later.

Then going through whatever argument it may be, filling it with absolutely clear examples to demonstrate you know exactly what the argument is in detail (my teacher told me to write as if it was for an educated layman. Most importantly they won't know keywords) and only when you've achieved this, move on to criticisms which you must then evaluate with further knowledge. "In Peter Vardy's 'the puzzle of God' he criticizes this argument by..... this is a strong/weak response as..." including scholars' names, books, examples, keywords, and quotations thoughout.

The way the essay will then flow, is that you then introduce your next scholar with a relevant part of their argument, typically phrases like "descartes' argument, however, doesn't face this criticism as..." and continue to follow a similiar pattern of clarity, a good amount of knowledge shown, and then follow with another bout of scholarly criticisms or indeed strenghts and go on to evaluate. 

Finally, once a relevant amount of debate has been seen, comes the conclusion. It's important that you know when to stop writing as it's often tempting to write everything you know. In the conclusion I would simply summarise the key points of weakness or strength of the various arguments I have discussed and reasonably conclude with a sentence or two relating to the question. In evaluation in general, especially in the conclusion, just keep writing out words from the question title to ensure what you're saying is a relevant criticism or strength and gets you closer to answering.

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8 months ago

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