PPE Personal Statement Example

The topics in Philosophy, Politics and Economics are directly relevant to my life and I wish to study the course to solve life’s biggest questions and mould my political views, character and morals.

I delved into the concept of justice by reading Plato’s ‘Republic’. At first, Plato's envisioned just society seemed to promote classism to me, but looking into his principle of specialisation changed my mind. This society would not use money, so there would not be any economic classism and encouraging specialisation would increase economic productivity, but it left me questioning how resources would be distributed.

While classism may be avoided in his ideal society, Plato's definition of justice did not satisfy me due to its basis on his unfounded theory of tripartite souls, so I would disagree with calling it a just society. His allegory of the cave reminded me of the concept of echo chambers, which led me to read ‘Gorgias’ by Plato. While Plato was at odds with rhetoricians, I felt that rhetoric is useful in convincing people even though it is not necessarily substantive in itself.

Yet, it could easily be misused by deceivers, so I feel it is important to teach rhetoric and philosophical reasoning to people so they may avoid deception and find truth, especially in a democracy where politicians regularly deceive the people to get their way.

I still wanted to know how we could gain knowledge without being deceived. Reading ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’ by René Descartes and ‘Knowledge’ by Jennifer Nagel gave a sceptical outlook on knowledge claims. Before, I believed that knowledge could be derived from empirical observation but Descartes’ evil demon concept convinced me that empiricism was fallible to illusions. However, I found Descartes’ use of reasoning to gain knowledge to be flawed, but rather than reject all knowledge claims I accepted the contextualist thesis as a more practical alternative to scepticism.

The nature of morality has interested me, which led me to read ‘Metaethics: An Introduction’ by Andrew Fisher. I had leaned towards cognitivist theories however they tend to commit the is-ought fallacy, yet non-cognitivism does not account for the external causes of our emotions. I resolved my thoughts by researching a divine origin of morality. Reading ‘Euthyphro’ by Plato led me to reject both branches of the Euthyphro dilemma, viewing it as a false dichotomy. Rather than moral authority being independent of God or based on power, I came to view the nature of God as the principal value of Good. With the motivation to follow such a God being the ability to truly achieve our desires and purpose.

I read ‘Game Theory’ by Ken Binmore in which I learnt that, contrary to what I thought before, it is rational to make individualist pursuits even if it goes against the common good as illustrated by the tragedy of the commons. This led me to believe the common good should be achieved through an authority that could decrease the payoff for actions that go against the common good, which could solve issues like climate change. However, in a democracy such authority could be voted out if it opposes individual interests, which made me question whether democracy can serve the common good.

Being brought up in the west I was conditioned to believe communism was a failed project and adopting socialist policies would just lead to inflation. Reading 'Communism' by Leslie Holmes and sections of ‘The Wealth of Nations’ by Adam Smith taught me how government interventions can reduce aggregate demand through contractionary monetary and fiscal policy, convincing me that these concerns could be alleviated.

Yet, a command economy is inefficient at responding to market changes and Marxist theory was heavily modified for the self-interests of the leaders of communist regimes. This led me to believe that a less authoritarian theory like democratic socialism, which allows for a mixed economy may be more successful.

Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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I made this personal statement because I was thinking about transfering in 2021 but ended up withdrawing my applications. I still thought this would be useful to share.


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