The topic of moral reasoning lies in between two other commonlyaddressed topics in moral philosophy. On the one side, there is thefirst-order question of what moral truths there are, if any. Forinstance, are there any true general principles of morality, and ifso, what are they? At this level utilitarianism competes withKantianism, for instance, and both compete with anti-theorists ofvarious stripes, who recognize only particular truths about morality(Clarke & Simpson 1989). On the other side, a quite differentsort of question arises from seeking to give a metaphysical groundingfor moral truths or for the claim that there are none. Supposingthere are some moral truths, what makes them true? Whataccount can be given of the truth-conditions of moral statements?Here arise familiar questions of and ; here, the ideaof “a reason” is wielded by many hoping to defend anon-skeptical moral metaphysics. The topic of moral reasoning lies inbetween these two other familiar topics in the following simple sense:moral reasoners operate with what they take to be morally true but,instead of asking what makes their moral beliefs true, theyproceed responsibly to attempt to figure out what to do inlight of those considerations. The philosophical study of moralreasoning concerns itself with the nature of these attempts.
I know that for me, reading her poems as a child and then as a young girl already seriously writing poetry, she was a problematic figure. I first read her in the selection heavily edited by her niece which appeared in 1937; a later and fuller edition appeared in 1945 when I was sixteen, and the complete, unbowdlerized edition by Johnson did not appear until fifteen years later. The publication of each of these editions was crucial to me in successive decades of my life. More than any other poet, Emily Dickinson seemed to tell me that the intense inner event, the personal and psychological, was inseparable from the universal; that there was a range for psychological poetry beyond mere self-expression. Yet the legend of the life was troubling, because it seemed to whisper that a woman who undertook such explorations must pay with renunciation, isolation, and incorporeality. With the publication of the Complete Poems, the legend seemed to recede into unimportance beside the unquestionable power and importance of the mind revealed there. But taking possession of Emily Dickinson is no simple matter.
A powerful philosophical picture of human psychology, stemming fromHume, insists that beliefs and desires are distinct existences (Hume2000, Book II, part iii, sect. iii; cf. Smith 1994, 7). This meansthat there is always a potential problem about how reasoning, whichseems to work by concatenating beliefs, links up to the motivationsthat desire provides. The paradigmatic link is that of instrumentalaction: the desire to Ψ links with the belief that by Φing incircumstances C one will Ψ. Accordingly, philosopherswho have examined moral reasoning within an essentially Humean,belief-desire psychology have sometimes accepted a constrained accountof moral reasoning. Hume's own account exemplifies the sort ofconstraint that is involved. As Hume has it, the calm passionssupport the dual correction of perspective constitutive of morality,alluded to above. Since these calm passions are seen as competingwith our other passions in essentially the same motivational coinage,as it were, our passions limit the reach of moral reasoning.
This seems to me to miss the point on a grand scale. There are facts we need to look at. First, Emily Dickinson did not marry. And her non-marrying was neither a pathological retreat as John Cody sees it, nor probably even a conscious decision; it was a fact in her life as in her contemporary Christina Rosetti’s; both women had more primary needs. Second: unlike Rosetti, Dickinson did not become a religiously dedicated woman; she was heretical, heterodox, in her religious opinions, and stayed away from church and dogma. What, in fact, did she allow to “put the Belt around her Life”—what did wholly occupy her mature years and possess her? For “Whom” did she decline the invitations of other lives? The writing of poetry. Nearly two thousand poems. Three hundred and sixty-six poems in the year of her fullest power. What it was like to be writing poetry you knew (and I am sure she did know) was of a class by itself—to be fuelled by the energy it took first to confront, then to condense that range of psychic experience into that language; then to copy out the poems and lay them in a trunk, or send a few here and there to friends or relatives as occasional verse or as gestures of confidence? I am sure she knew who she was, as she indicates in this poem:
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Below is a pdf link to personal statements and application essays representing strong efforts by students applying for both undergraduate and graduate opportunities. These ten essays have one thing in common: They were all written by students under the constraint of the essay being 1-2 pages due to the target program’s explicit instructions. In such circumstances, writers must attend carefully to the essay prompt (sometimes as simple as “Write a one-page summary of your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study”) and recognize that evaluators tend to judge these essays on the same fundamental principles, as follows:
Says: With one word, this introduction takes an essay question about the person who has most influenced you and turns it back around to the admissions board. In effect, you are telling them that you have thought about their question thoroughly. You have thought about it for so long that you have a couple of questions of your own - questions that have sparked an interesting commentary.
Good writers accomplish these tasks by immediately establishing each paragraph’s topic and maintaining paragraph unity, by using concrete, personal examples to demonstrate their points, and by not prolonging the ending of the essay needlessly. Also, good writers study the target opportunity as carefully as they can, seeking to become an “insider,” perhaps even communicating with a professor they would like to work with at the target program, and tailoring the material accordingly so that evaluators can gauge the sincerity of their interest
Question Introduction: Many admissions essays begin with a question. While this is an easy way to begin an essay, admissions officers may perceive it as a "lazy introduction." No one wants to read an essay that begins with such tacky material as: "To be or not to be?" or "Are you looking for an applicant who has drive and determination? Well, Iâm your guy." If you are going to use a question, make sure that it is an extremely compelling one and that your experiences provide answers.
For the sample from materials sciences, directed at an internal fellowship, the one-page essay has an especially difficult task: The writer must persuade those who already know him (and thus know both his strengths and limitations) that he is worthy of internal funds to help him continue his graduate education. He attempts this by first citing the specific goal of his research group, followed by a brief summary of the literature related to this topic, then ending with a summary of his own research and lab experience.
The sample essay by a neuroscience student opens with narrative technique, telling an affecting story about working in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Thus we are introduced to one of the motivating forces behind her interest in neuroscience. Later paragraphs cite three undergraduate research experiences and her interest in the linked sciences of disease: immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and pathology.
Says: This introduction is indeed compelling, but it raises important questions about appropriate content. Be careful to avoid writing a personal essay that is far too personal. You do not want your reader to think that you might have character weaknesses that prevent you from handling stressful situations well.