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How to Write a Philosophy Paper

How to Write a Philosophy Paper

When a student or a scholar or any other essay writer has a task of writing a philosophy paper, it is only logical to apply the same guidelines that we use for most other types of papers. We should follow the three-part structure (intro, main body, conclusion); we should shape the main thesis and produce arguments to ground it; we should proofread or draft thoroughly to avoid any minor drawbacks like typos and punctuation errors. And, of course, we should know how to write an article title in a paper to cite it in the appropriate formatting style.

While all of these aspects are indeed critical, just having them as your ultimate checklist is not enough to produce a good paper on philosophy. Writing a philosophy paper, just as any other paper, has peculiarities of its own. The key to knowing how to write a philosophy paper is in knowing exactly what it is. This, in turn, can to a large extent derive from what a philosophy paper is not. Unlike most essays, a philosophical paper is not for conveying your opinions on a particular subject; neither is it for giving an overview of what other authors have to say on the topic.

What a philosophy paper does is presenting a well-grounded proof for a thesis statement. A skilled essay writer who knows how to write a philosophy paper realizes that it can be quite challenging to formulate a strong thesis statement. It has to be formulated in one to-the-point sentence which stands in perfect accord with the arguments that you will be presenting throughout your philosophy paper. Even if you only have a quite vague idea, to begin with, you need to polish it into a clear message that you will be conveying to your reader through your arguments. This needs to be done before you can move on to the arguments themselves.

The trick here is to keep in mind two crucial details:

  • Your paper must stand on its own. You will not be able to comment on how exactly an argument relates to your thesis statement and proves it. When your paper reaches your reader, you will not be able to add, subtract or clarify anything to them anymore. This is why, you should avoid any ambiguity, and this starts with formulating the thesis statement.
  • You should convince your reader. Every manual on how to write a philosophy paper will make a point that your goal is to convince your reader. Yet, upon doing all the research and writing, an essay writer will often subconsciously presume that his or her conclusions are obvious and the reader will accept them automatically. This presumption couldn’t be more wrong. On the one hand, your reader will most likely be your professor who is familiar with your views and knows what to expect from your writing. In other words, your reader will be prepared for what you have to say. However, the essential goal of any philosophy paper is to change the reader’s perception of a problem, to persuade them. This suggests that while reading your paper, they will have a different view on the issue in question. So, to be on the safe side, be strongly recommended to assume that you are talking to an intelligent opponent who shares the same level of knowledge on the topic, but does not share your perception of it. Moreover, if you don’t assume this, you are not entirely following the goal of a philosophical paper.

To sum it up, the essence of how to write a philosophy paper thesis statement and make it solid is in remembering that if your statement and your argument are obvious to you, they are not necessarily as obvious to your reader. However, you will not be able to complement your writing in any way after you submit it, so you need to put it together in such a way that it could speak for itself without raising any unwanted extra questions that it doesn’t answer.

Another big temptation that you may encounter is to include every single argument that you have come up with during your research. Naturally, since you have put effort into all these arguments, you may feel sorry to leave some of them out. Since the volume of your paper is limited, you may have to try really hard to squeeze all your arguments there by making them briefer than they should be. This is not how to write a philosophy paper. Aside from not being able to cover each particular argument the way it deserves, you give your reader the feeling that you cannot really tell the difference between different arguments, so you just stockpile them without really digging into any of them. Moreover, if all these arguments approach your thesis statement from different directions, it does not build up a wholesome and comprehensive narration.

This is why you have to stick to your most powerful arguments that are also connected to one another so that you could build a smooth narration in your paper. If you, for example, are to write a small five-paragraph essay on philosophy, you technically cannot include more than three arguments there. However, in such a short paper, it is a much better idea to pick just one argument – the most compelling one – and dwell upon it.

As you see, the trick in how to write a philosophy paper is not only in following the general guidelines of writing – how to pick a topic, how to structure an essay, or how to write an article title in a paper according to your citation style. In a philosophy paper, it is much more important to avoid any dubiousness, to be as clear as possible, and to put the quality of your arguments over their quantity.