How many times have you sat down ready to write a philosophy paper only to realize you cannot seem to organize your thoughts or, worse, have nothing in mind to write? This then leaves you feeling bad about yourself. Writing a philosophy paper is different from writing other academic papers. An excellent philosophical text depends on proper training, practice, and hard work. The paper should show your knowledge and understanding of the philosophical topic. They should also investigate the nature of the issues at hand, present a solution, and argue in support of the solution given. For this reason, you have to be eager to learn and carefully plan your work, and then write the paper with your audience in mind.
The following are guidelines designed to help you in your philosophy paper. They are a framework to ensure effective written and clear representations of your argument.
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Unlike other papers that require summarizing a text, you must provide an argument and defend it to the best of your abilities.
Philosophy papers are analytical or if you like, critical. Apart from giving insights from others on a topic, you need to elucidate the points from your understanding but do so objectively.
Here are the steps you can take to write a paper that your philosophy professor/tutor will not get enough of reading:
The key to writing a top-grade philosophy paper is understanding the question (philosophical topic) at hand. You can research or ask friends and classmates what they think about the topic. You need to develop one if you have not been assigned a topic.
Some of the topics to write about include:
Do thorough research so that you only write what you are comfortable handling. Remember that your chosen topic will be your thesis statement and should be reflected throughout the paper. If given a list, select a philosophy topic that resonates with your interests.
Before you begin writing, you need to know what philosophy is and carefully read all the instructions and recommended readings. In addition, readings should be conducted thoroughly, and as you do so, ask the following questions:
As you read your materials and research the topic, take notes and ensure they are written. Then, use these notes to organize your thoughts and ideas about the topic.
A logical argument precedes all philosophy papers. Therefore, you need to develop an outline that captures the structure of your thesis.
A properly written outline will allow you to spot problems in your arguments before you begin writing.
When writing a philosophy paper, you must write a thesis statement summarizing the position you are taking. Additionally, there should be a road map of what you intend to accomplish at key sections in your paper. This road map should only be a few sentences stating the sequence of your intentions in the paper. Most road maps require that you use the first-person narrative. However, if advised otherwise, describe what your paper will accomplish; for instance, the paper will analyze.
You will be required to write a clear and accurate explanation of the arguments and then show a logical connection between all the different parts of the paper.
Try as much as possible to avoid vague exposition or any misunderstandings. As you explain your points, ensure you support them with relevant citations.
If this is any paper other than expository, you must evaluate a theory by providing your thoughts about its strengths and weaknesses.
Remember that an evaluation is not just your opinion about the theory, although your views are central. Your evaluation should show your critical reasoning abilities about the topic.
As you read a theory from another philosopher, do not just agree with their conclusions without checking whether they have provided sufficient proof and support to their claims. You must evaluate the arguments to make sure you get the point. A theory can be evaluated and criticized based on the following criteria:
You must also explain these arguments and support them with textual references.
If you are writing a critical assessment, to some extent, you are showing your philosophical position. As you read through other philosophers' arguments, ask yourself what is the best theory so far.
Do not just understand these theories; try to develop your own.
A philosophy outline is good for several reasons.
First, it will help you identify your paper's main parts and detail it as much as possible.
Second, it enables you to organize your ideas and thoughts. A well-written outline will help you organize your thoughts about the given topic so that when you finally write, you do so without any challenges.
Third, glancing at your philosophy outline can help you decide what needs to be done.
The following is an outline you can use to write your philosophy paper. Please note that there are other philosophy outlines, but this is ideal. Also, keep in mind that the outline should contain the following:
Here is a sample outline:
2. Analysis and explanation of your thesis statement
To analyze your thesis, you must explain all the terms you have used clearly and concisely. Even though this seems trivial, there is much to be explained, particularly in philosophy.
Notice that you are not presenting your main arguments yet at this stage. You are simply explaining what your thesis is about. This is important because it will help set the tone for your paper.
3. Arguments in support of your thesis with evidence.
This entails the body of the essay. You can have as many arguments as possible if you support them with solid evidence.
Your points should look like this:
4. Explaining what you're critiquing
If your assignment demands that you critique another philosopher's arguments, you must first explain the argument before showing your critique. As you do this, ensure you clearly show that when you are speaking in your voice as opposed to explaining another's argument.
This is the summary of your arguments. Briefly write your main points and provide your conclusion. Take note that you are just restating your main points briefly. A comprehensive explanation of your arguments should be dealt with in the body of the paper.
Here are some things you should avoid when writing a research paper.
Statements like "Since the dawn of time…," or "Beginning in ancient times…" etc. don't do much for your paper. They are unnecessary words that fill up your paper. There is also no need to point out that your paper is important. Your introduction should be brief.
Relying too much on quotations or paraphrases is bad. You should keep all these to a minimum. Learn how to use direct quotations and use them only if necessary. You can summarize the author's arguments in your own words, but you must cite them. Remember that this is your paper should be kept as such, so do not overindulge in quotations and paraphrases.
The definition of fence sitting is when you cannot decide which position you intend to support. When writing a philosophy paper, avoid presenting a different number of positions and then claiming you can help any of them.
In addition, do not say that other philosophers can't settle on the matter at hand, so you shouldn't be expected to decide in just a few pages.
Whichever your topic is in philosophy, it is serious and should be treated as such, so avoid any flowery language. Also, please do not copy the phrases or words written by famous philosophers because most of them are famous despite their writing and not because of it.
If you feel the reader is not smart enough to understand your words, you will be tempted to explain each step. Write your paper with the idea that a reader is a college-educated person who can clearly understand what you are saying but does not presently know about the topic in discussion. Do not write the paper for the instructor because you will deliberately omit certain words and points because you think they are aware of the points. Strive always to show that you understand the arguments, relevant steps taken, and the problems associated with the claim.
Some readers can feel excluded when you use the above words. Research has shown that when girls are exposed to such language, they are less likely to think about themselves in a wide variety of occupations.
Take note of the following as you write your paper
Using phrases like "I will show you that" and "Now I will argue that…” I will give three examples…" are referenced as signposts, and they are extremely useful for communicating the structure and
Key points of your essay. Incorporate these phrases in your essay whenever you can to show your audience the direction of your arguments.
Oftentimes, some writers struggle so much with saying what they mean because they fear claiming it is obsolete.
Try to use simple, short, and concise sentences. If you run out of words and find out that are fewer pages than the assignment allows, then go back to the steps that need further information. You can even add a few examples to support your argument. However, you need to use them carefully. Remember that even the best examples can be easily misinterpreted or fail to convince the reader.
There are certain words and phrases that you need to be careful about how you use them. Words like deduction, valid, invalid, sound, and unsound or begs the question are used differently in philosophy. Therefore, you must understand this first before applying them in your paper.
The checklist below will help you ensure your Philosophy paper is up to par. That is, it meets the required structure, contains proper arguments, and that is well written.
Is your introduction well written? Check that you have the following:
Philosophical papers are not like your typical papers. You have to show that you understand the material and can think critically. Writing a philosophy paper requires a particular approach to ensure your work is top-notch. For this reason, it can be daunting to write one when you are used to conventional writing. However, there is a lot you can learn if you have the right guidelines in place. I hope the steps and tips above will help you with your assignment.
Start your philosophy paper with an introduction which:
Using first-person pronouns in a philosophy paper is allowed but only when appropriate. You can do this while introducing or showing what you will do in the article (signposting). For instance, saying "will show you that", "Now I will argue that…" etc. Please don't use personal pronouns such as I to state your opinion in the paper.
Your paper should have the following structure:
You must include all the following points to write a good philosophy paper.
Most students find it hard to write a philosophy paper because it has different expectations from other types of essays in other disciplines. However, if you master the given guidelines, it will be smooth sailing for you.
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