How to write a good philosophical essay: be pedantic. That is, explain everything, including stating fully the premises of an argument, and providing thumbnail definitions of state-of-the-art terms. Don"t ignore the strongest objections or create straw men that are easy to knock down. In any major controversy there will be opposing considerations. Develop the discipline of striving to criticise your own view, not just to defend it, and try to anticipate all reasonable objections. Be intellectually honest, and be ready to modify or even abandon a view you wished to defend if you can"t answer an objection. It is not enough simply to cite opposing views and then announce that you agree with the other side. You have to argue this out by defeating or sidelining the objections. But always, you must take responsibility for any point that you make.