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How To Write a Philosophy Paper (for Beginners) - Parkers Legacy

Writing a philosophy paper is not the same as writing other papers.In a philosophy paper, you have to present and defend an argument.Begin your paper by outlining it.Provide multiple points of view, present your argument clearly, and anticipate any objections others might bring up.You should polish your paper before you turn it in.

Step 1: Look for reliable, relevant sources and read them carefully.

You can use your school’s library to find reliable sources.There are philosophy textbooks, articles in scholarly journals and texts written by philosophers.Use only scholarly articles when using the internet.Ask your instructor if your school has access to academic search engines.It’s a good idea to avoid websites which contain inaccuracies.References to other scholars or experts are important for your research.What can they say about the subject?The stronger your paper is, the more points of view you find.

Step 2: As you read, make notes.

As you read through your sources, write down relevant quotes, interesting points and your own thoughts.Your outline will be based on these notes.

Step 3: You can choose your thesis.

The main argument that you are making is your thesis.If you want to come up with a thesis, you need to read through your notes and see what themes emerge.A philosophy paper should try to answer a question.Choose one that is relevant and interesting, and which can be successfully addressed in the amount of time you have.During the research process, a thesis may change several times.If you can support your position in the final paper, that’s fine.”It is immoral to deny yourself anything which brings happiness, even at the expense of others” is one example of a strong thesis.

Step 4: Take your notes and make a rough outline.

In which order will you give the terms, definitions, and criticisms?You can either present your entire argument first, then the objections, or you can argue with objections as you go.Go with the first option if there are many objections.

Step 5: Context is a must for your arguments.

The factors that may have influenced a person’s opinion can be found in context.The influence of a teacher, political climates, and personal experiences are some of the factors that might affect a person’s philosophy.

Step 6: The thesis should be stated early on in the paper.

The paper’s central theme should be included in the first or second paragraph.Explain to the reader why they should care about the points you are making after you state your thesis.It is not a good idea for college-level papers to present all of the arguments first and then state the thesis at the end.If your thesis is that mercy has more value than justice, you could make a statement such as: “In a system rules solely by justice there is no room for humanity.”A person who shopslifts for a thrill would be treated the same as a mother whosteals bread for her starving child.The mother would be given a lesser penalty than the shoplifter.

Step 7: There are technical or ambiguous terms.

The reader should not be made to guess what you’re talking about.Take the time to define a highly technical term, one with a very specific meaning, or a phrase which may be interpreted in different ways.

Step 8: Phrases like “I will argue…” or “My next objection…” can be used.

The reader can easily follow your train of thought with this help.signposts are used to announce what you are arguing.

Step 9: Don’t be a fence-sitter.

If you don’t have a clear answer to an argument, you should always pick a side and stick to it in your paper.In the paper on mercy vs justice, you would keep coming back to your position that mercy has more value than justice no matter how many objections you have.There will be situations where justice needs to be implemented and a compassionate approach is not appropriate.Your argument is that the quality of mercy has more value than retributive justice, so you can acknowledge that.

Step 10: Answer questions.

Think about what you’re saying as you write your paper.Try to answer any questions in advance.Readers could ask you questions such as “How do you define the terms’mercy’ and ‘justice’?”, “Do an emphasis on mercy only apply to everyday situations or does it extend to the justice system?” or “In what situations would you choose justice over mercy?”

Step 11: You can use examples and analogies to support your point.

There are a lot of complex topics covered in philosophy.analogies and metaphors can be used to draw parallels between ideas and experiences.An example of the value of mercy is that of a mother who forgives her child when the child has a bad day because she loves them and believes they will do better next time.

Step 12: Anticipate objections to your arguments.

Anticipating objections to your statements is one of the most important aspects of writing a philosophy paper.Counter-objections are simply ‘counters’.Imagine having an argument with a person who disagrees with you.What might that person say to you?It is possible that a serial killer who preyed on children does not deserve mercy.

Step 13: You should respond to each counter-objection.

Your main point will be weakened if you only acknowledge a counter.You need to explain why you think the counter is invalid.If you serve the serial killer with a just sentence, you are showing mercy to the family and friends of his victims.

Step 14: Do not ignore the criticisms of your thesis.

If you don’t address objections to your arguments, your paper will look weak and this will be reflected in your grade.The major criticisms should be addressed thoroughly.

Step 15: Follow counter-objections with a positive argument.

After addressing and defending against relevant counter, make your own positive argument supporting your thesis.Address those if this raises more counter-objections.After addressing the counter about the serial killer, there is a strong argument in favor of a mercy approach.A case of a reformed criminal who was pardoned from prison and went on to do great things is an example.The story of God showing mercy to the Egyptians and freeing them from slavery could be an example.The Egyptians who held the Hebrews captive were punished.

Step 16: You should be consistent in your language.

If you refer to a concept in your paper with the same term, use it consistently.Refer to Harry’s first- and second-order desires in the same way throughout the paper, rather than using different terminology such as “primary wants” or “inner desires”.

Step 17: You should clearly explain your thoughts.

Read through your paper from beginning to end to make it easy to follow.

Step 18: Pick out your examples.

You have to make sure the examples connect to the point you were making before.

Step 19: Don’t be lengthy.

Explain yourself as concisely as possible.The reader is easily able to follow you from point to point if you use simple prose.

Step 20: End with a few words.

You should end the paper with a concluding paragraph.A summary of the points you made in the paper and a restating of your thesis is what you should finish with.All of the information you want to include in your paper should be presented in the body of your concluding paragraph.

Step 21: Before you turn it in, make sure to proofread your paper.

If you want to read your paper by sentence, start at the end and work your way up.You will be more likely to catch errors if you read more slowly.