A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities
This is a place for philosophical essays by faculty, current students, and alumni philosophy majors, designed to attract readers keen on thinking philosophically in the format of the “occasional essay.” The essays should be (more or less) stand-alone essays that do not require expert background knowledge, but do exhibit the ways in which philosophical reflection can be woven into everyday life, special events, or topics of general interest. There is no restriction on content, but we are looking to post essays that combine entertainment with seriousness. This is not a site for ponderous, meticulous research, but more of a catchall page for essays combining whimsy with philosophical insights. This is a guideline, however, rather than a strict rule. Exhibited essays are chosen at the discretion of the editors of this page.
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In many of your philosophy classes you will be asked to write a critical analysis of a philosophical essay. This assignment has a specific form which is common to most classes. This document contains the basic instructions for writing such an analysis, though the specifics may vary depending on the class or the instructor. At the end of this document you will find a sample analysis that satisfies all the requirements below.
One of the first points to be clear about is that a philosophical essay is quite different from an essay in most other subjects. That is because it is neither a research paper nor an exercise in literary self-expression. It is not a report of what various scholars have had to say on a particular topic. It does not present the latest findings of tests or experiments. And it does not present your personal feelings or impressions. Instead, it is a reasoned defense of a thesis. What does that mean?