Need advice on how to approach a challenging philosophy term paper? Writing in philosophy differs from other types of academic writing because the main aim of any paper is to provide a reasoned defense of the thesis and convince the reader to accept it. If you face problems with completing writing assignments in philosophy, keep reading this article, where you will find a short and easy philosophy term paper writing guide that covers all the main aspects of creating an impressive paper.
Philosophy is often defined as an inquiry into important matters for the whole humanity – justice, meaning, truth, reality, mind, and knowledge which philosophy examines logically, directly, and in-depth. In the western philosophy, the philosophical inquiry was developed as a verbal activity, taking a specific form of a dialogue (Socrates) or in the written form (Aristotle, Plato, and plenty of philosophers who followed them). In both forms, the main goal of any philosophical inquiry is to create a thesis and persuade the audience to accept the thesis using logical, honest, and thorough argumentation.
In contrast to other fields of study, philosophical writing is argumentative writing. Philosophy papers don’t simply report facts, explain ideas or convey the author’s beliefs. Philosophers examine specific philosophical issues or problems and do philosophy. Their writings typically deal with:
Sometimes, the aim of philosophical writing is to develop a view on an issue or a theory and defend them. Philosophical writings may also present a critique of a view of another philosopher or critique of opposing views and defend the author’s preferred view.
The aim of written assignments in philosophy classes is to get students doing philosophy so they are expected to write philosophical essays and term papers. They differ from academic papers you have to write in other classes. Your task is not just to do a research and provide your opinion on the topic, you need to develop your own views on different important issues and argue for them. Your goal is to persuade your audience that your ideas are correct and make your readers believe your view is true. That’s why the aim of your philosophy term paper is to present a well-structured, convincing defense of your position on some issue or critically evaluate a philosophical theory.
If your instructor hasn’t assigned any specific topic for your term paper, you have to choose it on your own. The best approach is to write on a topic you are passionate about so you will enjoy the writing process. Make sure that your topic is broad enough to write about it and is narrow enough so you can manage it.
Basically, there are 2 types of topics for philosophy papers: problem-focused topic and text-focused topics.
The difference between these two types of topics is not critical because any text of a certain philosopher is devoted to a particular philosophical problem or question and practically all philosophical problems have already been written about by philosophers.
When writing on text-focused topics, you should approach them as attempts of the philosophers to deal with specific philosophical issues or problems. Actually, you will have to do philosophy with other philosophers and think about the specific issues.
As for problem-focused topics, you can use texts of different philosophers when you explore these topics. Of course, this approach is not obligatory but it may be helpful, especially, for beginners because texts can help you stay focused while you provide respond to the question.
Here we have a short list of extended philosophy term paper topics which you a free to use to get started.
Your typical assignment for writing a term paper can be evaluating some thesis or argument that was presented by another philosopher. Concerning this argument or thesis, you may be assigned to make one or more of the following steps:
No matter which tasks you will have to complete, your term paper should always meet some structural requirements and you need to provide reasons for claims you make.
It’s very important to plan your essay in advance before you start writing. You should think about the paper structure where all parts of it are logically connected. There are no strict rules on how your term paper must be structured and the structure will depend on a certain topic to a large extent. But typically, your philosophy term paper will consist of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Your introductory paragraph has to present information about the particular issue you are going to address, what goal you expect to achieve in your term paper, and how you plan to organize your argument to do it. Make your introduction to be your readers’ guide through your paper that will help them understand your ideas. You can do it this way:
Don’t begin your paper with some empty sentences like this one: “For centuries, philosophers have pondered what it means to know…” Such a beginning is not relevant and has nothing to do with the topic you are writing about.
You may start like this: “In this paper, I will refute Mr. Black’s statement about… by showing that it… Then I will present 3 arguments that support my thesis. They are 1)… 2)… 3)…”
The body of your philosophy term paper should develop your analysis of a certain problem and express your arguments for your position. This part of the paper should be written according to the brief outline you have presented in your introduction. The body of your term paper has to consist of 3 essential parts:
Depending on the topic of your paper, you will need to provide a brief summary or exposition of the argument, theory or a view you are going to examine. You will have to explain the argument or the theory in your own simple words and be very precise and concise, providing details that are essential for your thesis and your argument. You can also explain here some technical terms that are necessary for understanding your argument.
The main focus of your term paper is argumentation. You have to present an argument to support the thesis you have made in your introduction. You should use straightforward language and be precise in telling what you actually mean. In this part of your paper, you will need some examples to prove your points but don’t include too much evidence or you may distract your readers. Try to be as concise as possible.
To strengthen your own argument, you should anticipate objections and answer to them. It’s a very important step in defending your thesis. You should think about the most serious objections to your argument. If you happen not to know what to answer to a tough objection, you should consider 2 options:
You are free to change your mind anytime. You can do it and rewrite your paper according to this. In philosophical writing, this experience does happen and your ideas may become different from what you have thought before.
Your conclusion should not be long (about 1/3-1/2 a page). You should restate your thesis and explain what you think your argument has proved. You may also want to highlight some important limitations or implications to your argument.
Philosophical problems are complex so you will need a great deal of preparation to succeed in writing your philosophy paper. That’s why you should start as early as possible.