Guidelines for Writing Philosophic Papers
Brief Guide Writing the Philosophy Paper
Expressing one’s thoughts toward controversial topics doesn’t mean doing philosophy. Thus, philosophers insist on first attaining clarity about the exact question, and then giving answers accompanied by clear, logically structured arguments. A well-structured argument leads the reader through logical steps by going from obviously true statements to an unobvious conclusion. You will be challenged to create such an argument so that you might finish by exploring other questions that first seemed pedantic or contrived. By writing a good philosophy paper, you should proceed with logical steps.
Structuring a Philosophy Paper
In a philosophy paper, you need to create and explain a thesis, offer an argument and an objection to it, defend against an objection, examine the arguments for and against it, talk about possible consequences, as well as identify whether some other thesis or argument can be held. Thus, there are some standard structural requirements to be fulfilled:
- Formulate your thesis to clarify the aim of your paper. Make it clear and without digression.
- Determine technical or ambiguous notions used in your thesis or argument. In this way, your reader has more chances to understand what your paper is about.
- Explain the significance of the topic raised in the thesis. This is especially important in long assignments when the value of the claim is not explained properly.
- Specify the way of supporting your thesis. This can be done by indicating the ambiguous nature of used notions or by explaining why others skip the ambiguity aspect.
- Identify the argument you will be critiquing. You will have to explain the argument in your own words and according to your own consideration of the steps involved in it. You will need to follow the precise logical structure so that stick to explaining only the essential details relevant to your argument.
- Create a strong argument to address your thesis. It will be more reasonable to use one convincing argument than to find several less comprehensive ones.
- Strengthen your argument by anticipating and addressing objections to it. This might be an essential part of your paper as it supports your major argument and makes it more convincing. While giving an objection, you should find a reason or reasons for proving it is right. If you cannot address an objection properly, you should accept this, and then explain to your reader why the objection might not succeed anyway.
- Summarize all stated information by explaining what your argument has achieved.
Before taking the action, explore the selected topic for a while and think about a possible thesis and argument for your paper. If you’re challenged to do so, write some rough sketches of your ideas. Once it is done, build up an outline of your paper by using one line for each logical element of your argument. Keep correcting the outline until the argument in it is totally accurate. At that point, you are ready to write a complete draft from your outline, orientating on the clarity of the general structure of your argument. Your final version should contain the clearest expression, namely properly stated argument.
While philosophers may use scientific generalizations, they usually avoid the hectic statements devoid of clarity. Oftentimes, empirical evidence from sociology, chemistry or other fields can be useful for creating philosophical arguments. But it is not enough just to assume that such evidence solves your philosophical question. For instance, a common philosophical paper should demonstrate the inability of two or more views to be kept consistent with each other and their contribution to the development of an implausible third claim. Written well, this type of argument proves that there is a reason to refuse at least one of its aspects.
Philosophical arguments often need to be started from some basic premises that the final conclusions will rely on. These should be scientific results or claims that any reader can agree with. As soon as a set of basic premises is ready, you should avoid the fallacy of begging the question in a philosophy paper.
There are several types of evidence that you would better avoid in philosophy papers. Do not argue that a claim is reasonable, just because someone of authority thinks so. Authorities might be wrong so that philosophers want to have a closer look at the arguments. Don’t argue from what the dictionary state about something, because either the dictionary becomes an authority or you are citing it as a reporter of general usage. Meanwhile, philosophers don’t want to know the common opinions, they want to know what hides behind the actual case.
You can use the arguments offered by other philosophers and express your own philosophical ideas. If you use someone else’s argument, you should reveal it in your own words and according to your own logic. Philosophy is complex enough so that you make sure that your argument is as clear and easy as possible. For instance, you can modify it by offering new considerations in defense of it. This is where you can demonstrate your skills to do your own philosophical reasoning.
The conventions which are required for philosophical writing include:
- Minimize direct quotes. If you want to leave quotations, explain the author’s thoughts in your own words. By paraphrasing any ambiguous or technical notions, you demonstrate your acknowledgment.
- Apply first person and possessive pronouns randomly. Alternatively, you can use sign-posting statements to enable a clear sense of where your argument comes from and what it stands for. This type of statement is not always written first-personally.
- Be specific at what you are saying. Stay within the allowed limit of words while completing your argument. A philosophy paper must contain a modest point as clearly, precisely, and accurately as possible.
- Clarify specialized language. Certain statements determine special, narrow meanings that are peculiar to the subject matter. These include deduction, valid, invalid, sound, and unsound notions used to address the arguments, and vague notions used to address existing concepts.