How to Write a Philosophy Paper (with Pictures) - wikiHow

You need to leave yourself enough time to think about the topic and write a detailed outline.

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Suppose that you werewritingabout phenomenalism. You might begin your paper as follows:

"The issue that I shall be addressing is whether acertain objectionto phenomenalism can be sustained. The objection in question isoneadvanced by David Armstrong, and the thrust of it is that phenomenalismcannot provide a satisfactory account of the public nature of space andtime. After carefully setting out Armstrong's objection, I shallsuggest that Armstrong has overlooked an important resource availabletothe phenomenalist - namely, the idea of counterfactual dependencebetweenthe experiences of different people. This idea, I shall argue,enablesthe phenomenalist to offer a satisfactory analysis of what it means tosay that there is a public space and time."

In a philosophy paper, it's OK to use this verb as much as you need to.

Philosophy essay writing guide — School of Historical …

(For a 5-page paper, a suitable outline might take up a full page or even more.)I find that making an outline is at least 80% of the work of writing a good philosophy paper.

A kind of complaint that is common in undergraduate philosophy papers goes like this:

Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answersto its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questionsthemselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminishthe dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universewhich philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe whichconstitutes its highest good.


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How do you arrive atinterestingobjections to your own arguments? The crucial thing is to lookcarefullyat the assumptions that you have made, and to ask yourself which ofthoseare philosophically controversial. Then you can turn to therelevantliterature to see what sorts of argument are offered against theassumptionin question by philosophers who reject it.

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Another way you can help make the structure of your paper obvious is by telling the reader what you've done so far and what you're going to do next.

Naturalism (philosophy) - Wikipedia

If your paper sounds as if it were written for a third-grade audience, then you've probably achieved the right sort of clarity.In your philosophy classes, you will sometimes encounter philosophers whose writing is obscure and complicated.

Responsibility | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy


John Searle is a world famous philosopher, best known for his "Chinese Room" thought experiment. Here, he gives his ideas about Philosophy of Mind, as well as some of its history and competing ideas by contemporary thinkers (although he is pretty dismissive of anyone who isn't himself). If you are one of those people who’s read briefly about the Chinese Room and found it to be "a bunch of crap", I recommend you listen to John Searle's full account. Many people seem to have a terrible misunderstanding of what John Searle actually believes (and why).

SPOILER: college is crazy-expensive

There are an incredible number of lectures available for free online. I always try to listen to lectures before tackling a new thinker to get a general idea of what they are about. Like the philosophical works, treat lecturers like scientists; don't assume that you are smarter than them (as you probably aren't). It's their job to understand this material, and you are just encountering it for the first time. Here are some of my favorites:

Personal Identity | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Both in essays where youare focusing upon some specific philosophical argument, and in thosewhereyou are either defending, or criticizing, some philosophical thesis,thesetting out of arguments, and the evaluation of them, are absolutelycentral. How well you do these things, then, will have a very important bearingupon the strength of your discussion.