The point here is that it's not really the candidate's place to determine what merits a Ph D.
They haven't, at that time, enough experience to make that determination.
At my university, Ph D students become , in which the student presents their research proposal to a committee (typically with members of their eventual examining committee) who must approve the proposal.
My advisor reminded me that regardless of my own perspective on my research, the fact of the matter is that three or four years ago, a committee of experienced researchers, professors, etc., (i.e., my candidacy committee) reviewed my proposal and confirmed that the work it describes merits a Ph D.
I asked the question here to know your opinion about it and to list down what could be the possible answers to this question. D., my favorite explanation is this cartoon by Matt Might. To be able to answer this question, all you need is an idea of how to describe what you have discovered, and how it fits into the context of work by others that has come before.
This is often not easy to answer, but an important thing to think about as one is writing one's thesis in any case.
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Visit Stack Exchange Few days back while attending a thesis defense, one Professor was asking the defender why does he think, he deserves the degree.
Based on that reminder, I framed by defense slides by beginning with a very quick review of the original candidacy, including a slide with a short problem statement.
At the end of the defense, I pulled up another copy of that slide and addressed each point in the original problem statement, explaining how I'd addressed it.