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What Does One Do in a Philosophy Paper?
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Featured Articles Essays Philosophy. Writing a good philosophy paper takes time and careful planning, so make sure that you begin working on the assignment as soon as possible. Philosophy papers require skillful argument and rational thought, which takes time to develop.

Jot down your ideas and use some of your spare time to think about what you want to write about. Read all relevant materials. Before you begin to develop your ideas for the paper, make sure that you have carefully read all of the materials that are related to the assignment.

If you read the materials, but do not remember much or do not understand part of what you read, then you should reread the texts before you attempt to work on your paper.

Otherwise, your explanation of the philosophy may be flawed or your argument may not hold up. Make sure that you understand the assignment.

Some professors distribute assignment guidelines while others simply describe the assignment in class. Before you start working on your paper, make sure that you have a clear understanding of what your professor is asking you to do.

It is important to keep your audience in mind as you plan your paper and as you write your paper. Your professor is your primary audience member and your classmates might also be part of your audience. Therefore, if you introduce a special term or concept, you will need to define it for your audience. With philosophy papers, it is best to use quotes from the text only when it is absolutely necessary.

The goal of your paper is to explain and evaluate a philosophical argument in your own words. Therefore, you should not rely too heavily on quotes or even paraphrased passages from your sources.

Make sure to provide a citation for every quote or paraphrase that you use from a source. All philosophy papers need to have a strong thesis. Your thesis states your position for the paper and you will need to make sure that you stay focused on your thesis and support it throughout your entire paper.

Keep in mind that a strong thesis states your position as well as why you hold that position. One reason that you may cite might be that beautiful people are not always virtuous. An outline can help you to stay on track as you draft your paper and ensure that you include everything that you need to include.

Write how you speak. Writing in a flowery, overly complex way will not make you appear to be more knowledgeable about philosophy. It is better to write in your own voice and use simple, direct language to get your point across. Imagine that you are explaining the concept to a friend and making an argument for why you agree or disagree with this concept. What would you say? What examples would you use? This makes it hard for your readers to understand what you mean.

Look up new words before you used them. If you like to use the thesaurus feature of Word when you write, just make sure that you are looking up the meanings of these words before you include them. The thesaurus does not always provide suggestions that are grammatically correct or equivalent in meaning to the original word. Introduce your paper with relevant details.

Your introduction is important because it gives readers a first impression of your paper. That is why it is important to use your introduction wisely.

After your introduction, you will need to explain the philosophical argument or concept that you are planning to refute or support. Otherwise, your professor may consider your argument to be less effective. Stick to the relevant details of the argument. Do not explain things that you do not plan to argue against in your paper unless they are absolutely necessary for understanding your point.

After you have provided a clear explanation of the philosophy, you will need to move on to your evaluation. Your evaluation should work to support your thesis at all times. Do not go back and forth between positions or contradict yourself at any time. Stick to your position no matter what. For example, if you are arguing that beauty and virtue are unrelated, then you might give an example of a convicted criminal who many consider to be beautiful.

Anticipate objections to your argument. 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. 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. Don't shoot for literary elegance. Use simple, straightforward prose.

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. We'll make fun of you if you use big words where simple words will do. These issues are deep and difficult enough without your having to muddy them up with pretentious or verbose language.

Don't write using prose you wouldn't use in conversation. If you wouldn't say it, don't write it. If your paper sounds as if it were written a third-grade audience, then you've probably achieved the right sort of clarity.

It's OK to show a draft of your paper to your friends and get their comments and advice. In fact, I encourage you to do this. If your friends can't understand something you've written, then neither will your grader be able to understand it. Read your paper out loud. This is an excellent way to tell whether it's easy to read and understand.

As you read your paper, keep saying to yourself:. If you plan to discuss the views of Philosopher X, begin by isolating his arguments or central assumptions.

Are the arguments good ones? Are X's assumptions clearly stated? Are they reasonable starting-points for X's argument, or ought he have provided some independent argument for them? Keep in mind that 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.

Hence, when you discuss the views or arguments of Philosopher X, it's important that you establish that X really does say what you think he says. 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 your misunderstanding or misinterpretation of X's views. At least half of the work in philosophy is making sure that you've got your opponent's position right.

Don't think of this as an annoying preliminary to doing the real philosophy. This is part of the real philosophical work. 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. When you do quote an author, always 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, give examples to illustrate the author's point, and, if necessary, distinguish the author's claim from other claims with which it might be confused.

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.

It is pointless to argue against a position so ridiculous that no one ever believed it in the first place, and that can be refuted effortlessly. 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 evidence of that view in the text. When you do this, though, you should explicitly say so. Say something like, "Philosopher X doesn't explicitly say that P, but it seems to me that he might have believed it, because You don't want to summarize any more of a philosopher's views than is necessary.

Don't try to say everything you know about X's views. You have to go on to offer your own philosophical contribution. Only summarize those parts of X's views that are directly relevant to what you're going to go on to do. Don't be afraid to bring up objections to your own thesis. It is better to bring up an objection yourself than to hope your reader won't think of it. Of course, there's no way to deal with all the objections someone might raise; so choose the ones that seem strongest or most pressing, and say how you think they might be answered.

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A Sample Philosophy Paper annotated This contains all the required information. If your prof likes to grade anonymously, make sure not to include your name. An introduction: Again, nothing fancy. Tell the reader what the paper is about. Provide a roadmap. And..a statement of your thesis. Some background: This can be hard.

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Philosophy papers usually involve both exposition and evaluation. In the expository part of the paper, your task is to explain the view or argument under consideration. Make sure that your explanation is as explicit as possible. 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.

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- Philosophy Paper #1: Personal Identity What is personal identity. This question has been asked and debated by philosophers for centuries. The problem of personal identity is determining what conditions and qualities are necessary and sufficient for a person to exist as the same being at one time as another. 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.