Introduction to Moral Reasoning/The dissertation

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The following has been translated from the french philosophy wikibook:

The dissertation is the philosophical exercise par excellence. It permists the evaluation of the assimilation of knowledge by the student, and has the capacity to serve as a personal yet rigourous reflection. These two aspects mean that the dissertation does not reduce to a simple scholastic exercise. Great philosophers have written dissertations, which are also great works. But one cannot expect a student to produce such a work: it is therefore necessary to start by learning to write the dissertation purely as a school exercise, and to this end it is good to formulate some rules which sure enough are a formal, but whic guide the reflection and give it the maximum rigour possible.

To succeed in a philosophy dissertation, it is necessary first of all to know that there exist many possibilities of good argument. Thus there is no single method which drives infallibly to success, but many good methods from which the author can choose. The choice of a plan thus indicates the understanding, good or bad, of the subject. However it remains possible to formulate some general rules:

  • a philosophy dissertation divides into three parts (introduction, development, conclusion);
  • there are rules to follow for each of these parts.

types of subject[edit]

  • question
  • idea or group of ideas


  • introduce the subject
  • say what the problems are
  • announce the plan
  • follow the plan


  • several types of plan


  • recapitulate
  • conclude by answering the question

how to organize oneself[edit]

  • read the subject
  • work on the draft
  • write a proper introduction
  • write the development