How to Write a Philosophy Paper and Do It Well

how to write a philosophy paper

Are you reading this article because you want to know how to write a philosophy paper? If yes, know that you’re not alone. Many students find philosophy essays challenging because educators have different expectations in this subject than in the other disciplines. Ideally, a philosophy paper is a presentation of a reasoned defense of a thesis.

A philosophy essay should defend a specific thesis with plausible supporting reasons. It can also show that arguments against an idea are unconvincing. Your paper can also criticize a particular hypothesis by revealing its unconvincing arguments. Alternatively, your essay can contrast the views that other scholars raised and argue for one point over the others.

This article explains how you can write a philosophy paper from the beginning to the end. If your professor has given you a writing assignment in this subject, this guide provides general advice that you can follow to write a winning essay. Nevertheless, read all instructions from your teacher to write a custom paper that will impress them to award you the top grade.

Ideally, think about your question to ensure that you provide a relevant and satisfactory answer in your paper. Perhaps, this is the best way to start working on your writing because you can’t answer the question correctly if you don’t understand what the educator wants you to do. So, before delving into the process of writing philosophy prose, let’s know the basics.

What is a Philosophy Paper?

A philosophy essay or paper is a write-up comprising a reasoned defense of a thesis or claim. That means this paper must present an argument. In your paper, don’t present a mere report of opinions or views of philosophers. Instead, your paper should defend every claim you give or make.

For example:

Instead of saying, “In my view, P is…,” you say, “P is…because….”

Your paper should aim to do several things to earn you the top grade. Ideally, start by presenting an argument or a thesis for consideration. After that, focus on doing the following:

  • Offering counter-examples to the claim or thesis
  • Criticizing that thesis or argument
  • Defending the thesis or argument against criticism by somebody else
  • Presenting reasons for believing the thesis
  • Providing examples explaining the idea or making it more plausible
  • Arguing that the philosophers committed to a theory depend on other views but don’t endorse it explicitly
  • Revising a thesis with some objections
  • Discussing the effects of an idea if it were it true

This paper concludes with an upshot of the discussion. For instance, the essay should tell the readers whether to reject or accept a thesis. Nevertheless, a good philosophy research paper should be modest, with a specific and clear point. It’s also original and accurate when attributing other philosophers’ views.

What is Philosophical Research?

Philosophical research aims to assess knowledge status via analysis of relationships and meaning of different exposition and concepts underlying assumptions and fruitful ideas synthesis from various fields of educational practices and theories.

This research can be normative, analytical, or descriptive. The normative philosophical study aims to establish standards, guidelines, and human conduct according to reality’s knowledge. Analytical philosophical research analyzes theories, concepts, positivism, language, and anti-positivism. On the other hand, descriptive philosophical research focuses on the general intellectual thought development and study of philosophers.

How to Write a Good Philosophy Paper

As hinted, start working on this paper by reading and understanding the question. Check whether the question has several sections that you should address when writing the essay. Ideally, the educator will evaluate your answer in connection with the prompt or question. No matter how brilliant your write-up will be, it won’t get you a good grade if it fails to answer the question.

Also, make your paper an exposition and an evaluation. The expository part should explain the argument or the view in consideration. Make this explanation explicit if you want to impress the educator to award you the top grade. In the evaluation section, exhibit some philosophy. That means going beyond stating whether you disagree or agree with a particular philosopher’s conclusion. Also, engage the reasoning of the philosopher.

An example of a philosophical question you can ask when writing this paper is, does the philosopher’s argument arrive at the desired conclusion? Others include:

  • Which are the weakest premises of the claim?
  • Which objections can the readers raise to these premises?
  • Can philosophers bolster the argument to defend it against the complaints?

Also, think about the target audience when writing a philosophy paper. Please don’t write this paper like a personal communiqué. Instead, think about the audience as an intelligent person interested in your subject but is yet to study it. Additionally, define technical and unfamiliar terms that you use in the paper.

Avoid using quotes but include textual references after claiming what somebody else said in a text. Nevertheless, evaluate everything necessary and have it in your paper.

How to Start a Philosophy Paper

While a philosophical problem can be hard to think about, writing about it shouldn’t be difficult. That’s because your goal is not to craft a fancy speech for an event. Instead, you present a thesis or claim and your reasons for believing or disbelieving it. And you do this in the most straightforward way possible. Here are the guidelines for writing this paper.

How to Outline Your Paper

Start by thinking about presenting the claim, explaining your position, and various terms. Your paper outline should also indicate where you will place the opposing argument or position. Which order will you follow when criticizing your opponent?

Your paper’s overall clarity will depend on the outline because it will give it a structure. Therefore, create an overview of the entire piece and the arguments you intend to present before writing. That way, you can organize your points and have a sense of how they will fit together.

For instance, the outline should enable you to tell the audience your main criticism or argument before writing it. To achieve this, you need a detailed overview.

How to Write an Introduction for a Philosophy Paper

Avoid starting your paper with a virtue definition or a general opening statement. Instead, tell the readers about your writing. What is your thesis, and how will you defend it? Remember that telling the readers what you will talk about in the paper and telling them what you intend to argue are two different things.

For example,

Instead of saying:

In this paper, I will discuss Meno’s inquiry paradox and how Socrates criticizes it;.”

Say:

This paper argues that Socrates doesn’t defend the recollection theory adequately.”

The second thesis statement is superior to the first one. In some cases, writing the introduction after the main body is the best approach because you’ll know the premise of your paper. Perhaps, you’re wondering, what does premise mean? A premise refers to a proposition from which an author bases an argument or draws a conclusion.

How to Write the Body of Your Philosophy Essay

You can’t say you know how to write a philosophy essay if you struggle to move from the introduction to the body and eventually conclusion. In the body section, use simple prose instead of going for literary elegance.

Keep all your sentences and paragraphs as short as possible. Always aim for clarity in your writing by making your prose direct, simple, and to the point. If you decide to present another philosopher’s views, isolate their central assumptions or arguments first. After that, determine whether the ideas are good and stated clearly.

Make sure the structure of the paragraphs is clear. It should follow the sequence:

  1. Main point
  2. Other philosophers’ work supporting the point
  3. Anticipated objections
  4. Refuted objections
  5. A transition to the next point

Don’t forget that philosophy writing requires a high precision level. That means getting a general idea of a philosopher’s argument or position is not enough. Instead, get everything right before writing about it. Thus, if you discuss a philosopher’s arguments or views, establish what they say is what you think. Failure to explain what you think the philosopher’s views are, the readers can’t judge whether you offer good criticism or basing it on your misinterpretation or misunderstanding of their opinions.

Ideally, half of your work should be about ensuring that you’ve understood what your opponent says. And this is not an annoying preliminary in philosophy but an essential aspect of any philosophical work.

If you think a passage in a text can help support the philosopher views’ interpretations in your paper, quote it directly. However, specify where your readers can find the quotation. Nevertheless, use direct quotations sparingly in the body. Where possible, paraphrase what a philosopher says instead of quoting them directly. But tell your readers that you’re paraphrasing what another person said and cite your reference.

Also, don’t substitute your explanation with quotations. Ideally, explain the quote in your words after quoting an author using straightforward and explicit terms.

Note that you can provide personal philosophy examples to support your argument in the paper. For instance, you can answer questions like;

  • What is truth?
  • How should humans live?
  • Do humans have free will?
  • How do humans know anything?

Your answers to such questions should align with the point you want to make in support or opposition to a philosopher’s argument.

How to Write the Conclusion of Your Paper

In the conclusion section, wrap up the entire paper. Ideally, don’t summarize everything you’ve discussed in the body section. Your readers remember your argument, and you will annoy them by repeating everything in the conclusion part of your paper.

Also, avoid a hedged claim in this section. Keep off the temptation to give an empty prediction for a debate continuation. And your conclusion shouldn’t give the impression that your paper has addressed all facets of the topic. Nevertheless, don’t shy away from defending your qualified findings. But the essential thing is to avoid any exaggeration.

Topics Philosophical Essays Can Be About

College and university students have many topics to explore when writing essays on this subject. Even a high school learner can find an attractive issue to write research and write about in this academic field.

Here are good topics to consider for your papers on this subject:

  • Are humans evil or good by nature?
  • Can a person change for believing in God?
  • Is morality relative to society, culture, or character?
  • Can truth be a relative term?
  • Can knowledge affect free will?
  • Are humans different from animals?
  • Free will or determinism- What do you support?
  • How helpful are emotions?
  • Can you be happy without your family?
  • Vacation or a well-paying job?

Additional Tips

Some tips to also keep in mind while writing your paper:

  1. Start working on your paper early: Writing about a philosophical topic requires more and careful reflection. Therefore, don’t wait until the last days to start working on your paper. Instead, take your time to prepare and research your topic.
  2. Start with a rough draft: Once you start writing your paper, don’t mind grammar first. Instead, focus on presenting all the main points and supporting arguments. Follow the outline to ensure that you don’t leave out any relevant information. After the first draft, proofread the paper to eliminate all errors. Also, ensure that your essay includes a reference for all sourced content. If necessary, hire our online experts to edit your paper before submission.
  3. Follow the outline: Your paper should have a clear narrative thread. And you need an apparent structure to achieve this. Therefore, use an online to present your arguments logically. For instance, readers shouldn’t struggle to connect ideas between your sentences. Also, each paragraph should support the thesis statement as stated in the introduction. Additionally, mind your sections and sentences’ length. A philosophy paper can have complex ideas. And using short and clear sentences enables the readers to understand these ideas.
  4. Check argument examples: If you have difficulties formulating an argument or making a claim in your paper, check good examples online. The internet is a good resource with many argument samples that can guide you with your work. Alternatively, ask your educator to provide a sample paper to guide you.
  5. Avoid direct quotations: Although educators do not explicitly prohibit direct quotations, avoid them in your paper. As hinted early, use direct quotes sparingly and explain what the author says or means using your words. However, use a direct quote only when it’s essential.

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