Writing Philosophy Papers

Writing Philosophy Papers-13
Even if your audience knows the conversation, your interpretation may be new.

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Here is an example: "Skepticism is when you don’t really know anything." This is a bad definition of skepticism. They should not be reported as questions (see Danger Sign 1) or events (like "is when.") There’s nothing grammatically wrong with "also said …" (like there is for a theory described as "is when …" or as a question).

However, when I see the above phrase in an exam or paper, I am warned that the student is not really following Hint #1) above.

In philosophy, you will write a range of assignments, from short examinations of a single philosopher’s argument to longer papers where you develop an extended argument in defense of your central claim.

When writing an argumentative paper, keep in mind that you are entering a discussion about a philosophical claim that has likely been going on for decades, if not centuries.

Much of this page was adapted from “How to Analyze a Philosophical Essay,” which was initially written by Dr. Note: before you can select a topic, you should make sure to read the text(s) of interest several times until you think you understand it fairly well. Absolutely do not engage in: In short, always strive to express yourself in the simplest, clearest, and most precise terms possible.

The paper should demonstrate a strong grasp and command of the material from the course.I do not conclude that the student has plagiarized Author X (although most professors would).Instead, I give no credit to the passage that was copied (even if it was copied with small changes, just to avoid copying exactly).These are mostly features that I’ve found in student papers that usually lead to trouble. The conclusion (for example) of Descartes’s argument for skepticism is not “Do we really know anything?They are not cut-and-dried mistakes, but they seem to be associated with confused reasoning and/or passages that are difficult for your poor professor to understand. One reason that rhetorical questions are dangerous is that you (as the writer) know what the answer is to the question. So tell me what you think – don’t ask me a question which (you think) has an obvious answer. As you can see in #1 above, arguments are the important things. ” I don’t know how this started, but it is a growing trend in papers. Events or times are properly described by "is when," for example "Noon is when we eat lunch." Philosophical doctrines should be described by statements.You’re not expected to solve every problem (especially since there may not be a correct answer).Acknowledging weaknesses in your argument and counterarguments raises your credibility; it shows that you’ve considered all sides of the problem.Your thesis is the position you are taking, with evidence to support its soundness.You want your reader to listen and respond to your claim, so be sure to explain its relevance in the ongoing discussion. Clarify with your professor how much time you should spend on addressing counterarguments.(Note that Steps Two and Three may have multiple parts and you may need to intermix the steps. Be truthful; acknowledge your argument’s limitations. Now you defend your argument against the counterarguments.Be sure to distinguish your ideas from the original ideas.) The next step is to imagine opponents’ responses to your argument. It’s okay if you can’t address every criticism, as long as you have picked an argument you can reasonably defend.


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