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How to Write a Philosophy Paper: Recommendations, Topics, and Free Examples

How to Write a Thesis for a Paper to Grab Reader’s Attention?

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What is a Philosophy Paper?


That is why it is necessary to learn how to develop a thesis for an academic project. The next sections of such assignment are equally important, and a student should be ready to provide defense assuming the audience may have an opposite position regarding the chosen topic. It might be a challenge. These writing tips will help to understand how to compose a research paper and survive the process of the best assignment selection.

A school graduate may need it to enter college. It is necessary to understand the goals of the assignment to realize how to write a philosophy of life paper. The clarity of any essay depends on the structure, and many young students wonder how to prepare a paper outline.

An outline looks like most of the research project outlines. We have discussed how to develop a thesis statement for a paper. It is time to explore how to develop an introduction for a philosophy paper. Do not forget to include these elements: Make it clear, concise, and challenging. We are almost done with the structure! The question left is how to write a conclusion for a philosophy paper to leave the reader impressed.

A powerful conclusion can guarantee positive feedback. Start with paraphrasing the thesis statement. I will argue for the view that Q. There are three reasons to believe Q. The strongest objection to Q says However, this objection does not succeed, for the following reason Isn't it easy to see what the structure of these papers is? You want it to be just as easy in your own papers. The reader should never be in doubt about whose claims you're presenting in a given paragraph.

You can't make the structure of your paper obvious if you don't know what the structure of your paper is, or if your paper has no structure. That's why making an outline is so important. Be concise, but explain yourself fully To write a good philosophy paper, you need to be concise but at the same time explain yourself fully. These demands might seem to pull in opposite directions. It's as if the first said "Don't talk too much," and the second said "Talk a lot.

We tell you to be concise because we don't want you to ramble on about everything you know about a given topic, trying to show how learned and intelligent you are.

Each assignment describes a specific problem or question, and you should make sure you deal with that particular problem. Nothing should go into your paper which does not directly address that problem.

Prune out everything else. It is always better to concentrate on one or two points and develop them in depth than to try to cram in too much. One or two well-mapped paths are better than an impenetrable jungle. Formulate the central problem or question you wish to address at the beginning of your paper, and keep it in mind at all times. Make it clear what the problem is, and why it is a problem.

Be sure that everything you write is relevant to that central problem. In addition, be sure to say in the paper how it is relevant. Don't make your reader guess. One thing I mean by "explain yourself fully" is that, when you have a good point, you shouldn't just toss it off in one sentence.

Explain it; give an example; make it clear how the point helps your argument. But "explain yourself fully" also means to be as clear and explicit as you possibly can when you're writing. It's no good to protest, after we've graded your paper, "I know I said this, but what I meant was Part of what you're being graded on is how well you can do that. Pretend that your reader has not read the material you're discussing, and has not given the topic much thought in advance.

This will of course not be true. But if you write as if it were true, it will force you to explain any technical terms, to illustrate strange or obscure distinctions, and to be as explicit as possible when you summarize what some other philosopher said. In fact, you can profitably take this one step further and pretend that your reader is lazy, stupid, and mean.

He's lazy in that he doesn't want to figure out what your convoluted sentences are supposed to mean, and he doesn't want to figure out what your argument is, if it's not already obvious. He's stupid, so you have to explain everything you say to him in simple, bite-sized pieces. And he's mean, so he's not going to read your paper charitably.

For example, if something you say admits of more than one interpretation, he's going to assume you meant the less plausible thing. If you understand the material you're writing about, and if you aim your paper at such a reader, you'll probably get an A. Use plenty of examples and definitions It is very important to use examples in a philosophy paper.

Many of the claims philosophers make are very abstract and hard to understand, and examples are the best way to make those claims clearer.

Examples are also useful for explaining the notions that play a central role in your argument. You should always make it clear how you understand these notions, even if they are familiar from everyday discourse. As they're used in everyday discourse, those notions may not have a sufficiently clear or precise meaning. For instance, suppose you're writing a paper about abortion, and you want to assert the claim " A fetus is a person.

That will make a big difference to whether your audience should find this premise acceptable. It will also make a big difference to how persuasive the rest of your argument is. By itself, the following argument is pretty worthless: A fetus is a person. It's wrong to kill a person. Therefore, it's wrong to kill a fetus. For we don't know what the author means by calling a fetus "a person.

In a philosophy paper, it's okay to use words in ways that are somewhat different from the ways they're ordinarily used. You just have to make it clear that you're doing this. For instance, some philosophers use the word "person" to mean any being which is capable of rational thought and self-awareness. Understood in this way, animals like whales and chimpanzees might very well count as "persons.

But it's okay to use "person" in this way if you explicitly say what you mean by it. And likewise for other words. Don't vary your vocabulary just for the sake of variety If you call something "X" at the start of your paper, call it "X" all the way through.

So, for instance, don't start talking about "Plato's view of the self, " and then switch to talking about "Plato's view of the soul, " and then switch to talking about "Plato's view of the mind. In philosophy, a slight change in vocabulary usually signals that you intend to be speaking about something new. Using words with precise philosophical meanings Philosophers give many ordinary-sounding words precise technical meanings.

Consult the handouts on Philosophical Terms and Methods to make sure you're using these words correctly. Don't use words that you don't fully understand. Use technical philosophical terms only where you need them. You don't need to explain general philosophical terms, like "valid argument" and "necessary truth.

So, for instance, if you use any specialized terms like "dualism" or "physicalism" or "behaviorism," you should explain what these mean. Likewise if you use technical terms like "supervenience" and the like. Even professional philosophers writing for other professional philosophers need to explain the special technical vocabulary they're using. Different people sometimes use this special vocabulary in different ways, so it's important to make sure that you and your readers are all giving these words the same meaning.

Pretend that your readers have never heard them before. Presenting and assessing the views of others If you plan to discuss the views of Philosopher X, begin by figuring out what his arguments or central assumptions are. Are X's arguments good ones? Are his assumptions clearly stated?

Are they reasonable starting-points for X's argument, or ought he have provided some independent argument for them? Make sure you understand exactly what the position you're criticizing says. Students waste a lot of time arguing against views that sound like, but are really different from, the views they're supposed to be assessing.

Remember, philosophy demands a high level of precision. It's not good enough for you merely to get the general idea of somebody else's position or argument. You have to get it exactly right.

In this respect, philosophy is more like a science than the other humanities. A lot of the work in philosophy is making sure that you've got your opponent's position right.

You can assume that your reader is stupid see above. But don't treat the philosopher or the views you're discussing as stupid. If they were stupid, we wouldn't be looking at them. If you can't see anything the view has going for it, maybe that's because you don't have much experience thinking and arguing about the view, and so you haven't yet fully understood why the view's proponents are attracted to it.

Try harder to figure out what's motivating them. Philosophers sometimes do say outrageous things, but if the view you're attributing to a philosopher seems to be obviously crazy, then you should think hard about whether he really does say what you think he says. Try to figure out what reasonable position the philosopher could have had in mind, and direct your arguments against that.

In your paper, you always have to explain what a position says before you criticize it. If you don't explain what you take Philosopher X's view to be, your reader cannot judge whether the criticism you offer of X is a good criticism, or whether it is simply based on a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of X's views. So tell the reader what it is you think X is saying. Don't try to tell the reader everything you know about X's views, though.

You have to go on to offer your own philosophical contribution, too. Only summarize those parts of X's views that are directly relevant to what you're going to go on to do. Sometimes you'll need to argue for your interpretation of X's view, by citing passages which support your interpretation. It is permissible for you to discuss a view you think a philosopher might have held, or should have held, though you can't find any direct evidence of that view in the text.

When you do this, though, you should explicitly say so. Philosopher X doesn't explicitly say that P, but it seems to me that he's assuming it anyway, because Quotations When a passage from a text is particularly useful in supporting your interpretation of some philosopher's views, it may be helpful to quote the passage directly.

Be sure to specify where the passage can be found. However, direct quotations should be used sparingly. It is seldom necessary to quote more than a few sentences.

Often it will be more appropriate to paraphrase what X says, rather than to quote him directly. When you are paraphrasing what somebody else said, be sure to say so. And here too, cite the pages you're referring to. Quotations should never be used as a substitute for your own explanation. And when you do quote an author, you still have to explain what the quotation says in your own words. If the quoted passage contains an argument, reconstruct the argument in more explicit, straightforward terms.

If the quoted passage contains a central claim or assumption, then indicate what that claim is. You may want to give some examples to illustrate the author's point.

If necessary, you may want to distinguish the author's claim from other claims with which it might be confused. Paraphrases Sometimes when students are trying to explain a philosopher's view, they'll do it by giving very close paraphrases of the philosopher's own words. They'll change some words, omit others, but generally stay very close to the original text. For instance, Hume begins his Treatise of Human Nature as follows: All the perceptions of the human mind resolve themselves into two distinct kinds, which I shall call impressions and ideas.

The difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness, with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought or consciousness. Those perceptions, which enter with most force and violence, we may name impressions; and under this name I comprehend all our sensations, passions, and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul.

By ideas I mean the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning. Here's an example of how you don't want to paraphrase: Hume says all perceptions of the mind are resolved into two kinds, impressions and ideas. The difference is in how much force and liveliness they have in our thoughts and consciousness. The perceptions with the most force and violence are impressions. These are sensations, passions, and emotions. Ideas are the faint images of our thinking and reasoning. There are two main problems with paraphrases of this sort.

In the first place, it's done rather mechanically, so it doesn't show that the author understands the text. In the second place, since the author hasn't figured out what the text means well enough to express it in his own words, there's a danger that his paraphrase may inadvertently change the meaning of the text.

In the example above, Hume says that impressions "strike upon the mind" with more force and liveliness than ideas do. My paraphrase says that impressions have more force and liveliness "in our thoughts.

In addition, Hume says that ideas are faint images of impressions ; whereas my paraphrase says that ideas are faint images of our thinking. These are not the same. I believe, however, that it is possible to read the crucial passages about the authority of the state in the Crito in such a way as to render them consistent with Socrates' exhortation never to do wrong, and with his remarks about disobedience in the Apology. To see this, it is necessary to distinguish first of all between two issues: With this distinction in mind, consider the following possible interpretations of Socrates' claim about the moral authority of the state in the Crito:.

There are passages that might seem to suggest i e. Thus, a more charitable reading would interpret the passages about the moral authority of the state as referring implicitly to cases where the state does not require one to do anything unjust, but merely to endure something or perhaps to do something that is not itself unjust, such as rendering some political service.

If the passages are read in this way, we can interpret Socrates' claim as ii above. When he says that one must obey the state's final laws and orders, what he means is that one must do anything it tells one to do within the bounds of justice , and that one must endure anything it tells one to endure. Thus, Socrates was not obligated to capture Leon of Salamis, and would not be obligated to cease philosophizing if ordered to, since that would be doing something wrong i.

The latter is true, according to Socrates, even though the punishment is wrong; for by suffering it, he is not himself doing anything wrong, but only enduring something wrong.

This is perfectly consistent with Socrates' exhortation never to do anything wrong. Thus, what at first appears to be a blatant contradiction among Socrates' various claims is fairly easily remedied if we interpret the relevant passages in the Crito as making the claim in ii rather than the claim in i above. This interpretation is supported not only by the fact that it helps to reconcile Socrates' seemingly contradictory claims, but also by the fact that Socrates' examples of obedience to the state over one's own objections all involve having to endure something, rather than having to do something.

He speaks in Crito 51b, for example, of having to "endure in silence whatever it instructs you to endure, whether blows or bonds, and if it leads you into war to be wounded or killed, you must obey. Therefore, it is consistent with the text to interpret him as making only the claim in ii, which is fully compatible with his claim that one must never do wrong, and with his claim that under certain conditions one should refuse to do something the state orders such as refusing to capture someone for an unjust execution, or refusing to cease carrying out your divine mission as long as you live.

As for the plausibility of Socrates' view, I believe that it is still overly demanding, even when qualified as in ii above. It's unclear why any of the factors Socrates mentioned should give the state such overriding moral authority that one should be morally obliged to endure execution without resistance even in cases where the state is genuinely in the wrong.

It seems more plausible to hold that if one stands to be unjustly executed, one can rightly resist this punishment even if it would equally be permissible not to resist. One could do this, I think, without showing any contempt for the laws, or challenging their authority, since one still grants the state's authority to do its best to carry out the punishment, and simply asserts a moral right to do one's best in turn to avoid such wrongful punishment.

But that's a topic for another paper. Note, first of all, the concise, crisp introduction. The problem is plainly stated, and then I explain clearly what I'm going to do in the paper--all in just a few sentences. There's no rambling introduction with sentences starting with "Since the beginning of time, mankind has pondered the mysteries of etc. The style is straightforward, striving for clarity rather than literary flair.

Jargon is avoided as far as possible. After the introduction, the problem is stated in more depth and detail, with textual references. Notice the spare use of quotes. I quote only a few words here and there, where necessary to illustrate the points.

This might be extended to a few sentences, if necessary, but beware of over-quoting and letting someone else's words do your work for you.

The worst mistake is just stringing together quotes, which accomplishes nothing. Notice also that textual references are given for the quotes, as well as for paraphrased passages. Normally, I'd use footnotes and have complete citations, but I'm limited by html format here. Notice how, in describing the problem, I try to elucidate it, rather than just summarizing it. Summary is not explanation. Instead, I try to make clear where exactly the tensions among the various claims seem to arise and why, and how they apply to Socrates' own case.

I've tried to go well beyond the superficial statement of the problem in the essay question, to illuminate and develop it.

Now having done that, one might just stop and claim to have answered the question:

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Structuring a Philosophy Paper Philosophy assignments generally ask you to consider some thesis or argument, often a thesis or argument that has been presented by another philosopher (a thesis is argument, you may be asked to do one or more of the following: explain it, offer an argument in support of.

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Philosophy paper. Help. anncou. Main. Similar Questions. Field: Reading homework help. Report Issue. Address the following in your paper: Mind/Body Dualism: Compare/contrast Cartesian rationalism and at least one version of empiricism. You may draw upon your analysis of the Cartesian Method in this week’s discussion .

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It will also help to give your paper focus. In order to produce a good philosophy paper, it is first necessary to think very carefully and clearly about your topic. Unfortunately, your reader (likely your marker or instructor) has no access to those thoughts except by way of what actually ends up on the page. A philosophy paper consists of the reasoned defense of some claim Your paper must offer an argument. It can't consist in the mere report of your opinions, nor in a mere report of the opinions of the philosophers we discuss.

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Avoid getting off on tangents that are not crucial to your topic, and avoid sweeping generalizations you can't support in the paper. In addition to the quality of exposition, one of the central things we look for in a philosophy . An essay on philosophy begins with a thesis statement which can be an introduction to a wider topic or can be a simple argument that you wish to elaborate in the essay. A thesis statement is essential in all kinds of custom essay papers because it is the starting point to your essay therefore it needs to be impressive enough to catch attention.