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How to Write a Presentation in Philosophy: Easy Guide + 15 Powerful Topics

Stuck with your philosophy presentation and need advice? Many students believe that writing and delivering a good philosophy presentation is extremely challenging because writing in philosophy differs from writing in other college courses. They are mistaken. In fact, writing a good philosophy paper is similar to writing an impressive paper in history, literature or economics. Although philosophy papers have their specifics, good writing of any paper is the result of proper training, much practice, and hard work. To help you get started with your writing efforts, here we have gathered a lot of full guides to all writing assignments out there. In this article, we are going to discuss how to write an impressive presentation in philosophy. You will find a brief writing guide and 15 great philosophy presentation topics.

What Is a Philosophy Presentation?

Let’s start with discussing philosophy presentation specifics. Philosophical presentations are different from presentations in most subjects because you are not supposed to do a research, provide a report on a particular topic, present results of experiments and findings of specific tests or tell about your impressions or personal feelings. Instead, you need to provide a reasoned defense of your thesis statement. That means that you need to convey a specific point and provide justification or grounds to convince your audience to accept it.

Generally, your ability to write demonstrates your ability to communicate ideas and provide a logical argument. But when it comes to writing and delivering a presentation in philosophy, you should also demonstrate your ability to think. And the quality of your philosophical writing is the measure of your ability to think clearly, concisely, and in a cohesive manner. Speaking about philosophy, being a good writer is the same as being a good thinker.

A good philosophical presentation is clear and makes a logical argument where every sentence contributes to entire paper, providing compelling reasons for other people to accept the writer’s point of view. The goal of a good argument in philosophy is to express and defend true conclusions, clarifying the key reasons that support them and separating claims that fail to do it. That’s why you need to present arguments and critically evaluate them.

Besides, your presentation should be well-organized with a clear structure that includes an introduction and a conclusion. And your paper should show your creative thinking – puzzles, interesting questions, innovative examples, rhetorical devices.

How to Choose a Topic for a Presentation in Philosophy

Choosing a great topic is one of the first things you should consider when working on your presentation and you should approach this important step wisely. Here are some useful tips on how to do it right.

  • Choose a topic that you are interested in – your audience will appreciate your passion during the presentation;
  • Make sure that your presentation topic is broad enough so you will be discussing an important issue. But your topic should be also narrow enough so you will be able to address the issue thoroughly during a short period of time;
  • It’s crucial to understand the limitations of your topic and have a good idea of how much you can accomplish;
  • Try to summarize your argument into a single paragraph. If you can’t do it, your topic is too broad.

To help you get started, we offer you 15 awesome Philosophy topics for impressive presentations:

  1. Leibniz on Space and Time;
  2. Ancient Greek Skepticism;
  3. Wittgenstein on the Concept of Language Games;
  4. History of Feminist Philosophy;
  5. Is Death an Evil?
  6. Is Determinism Inherent in Nature?
  7. History of the Free Will Problem;
  8. Descartes’ Program of Radical Doubt;
  9. Russell’s Theory of Descriptions and Facts;
  10. Are There Absolute Certainties?
  11. Is Truth Relative or Absolute?
  12. How Does Human Perspective Evolve?
  13. Democracy and Its Difficulties;
  14. Civil Disobedience;
  15. Discuss the Idea of a Universal Language.

Structuring a Philosophy Presentation

When you have chosen a topic, make sure you clearly understand it and start reading recommended texts and take notes. After that spend some time thinking about the question itself and make sure that everything you have written is relevant to the question.

There are two types of philosophy writings – exposition and evaluation but every philosophy presentation should include a clearly articulated thesis. It’s a certain claim that you will argue for.

For example, if your presentation on Aristotle theory of ethics is expository, you may simply state your goal:

‘Aristotle supports a virtue theory of morality.’

If your presentation is argumentative, you need to clearly state your position in the philosophical debate:

‘I am going to argue that Aristotle theory of ethics fails because it doesn’t provide an appropriate interpretation of specific moral actions.’

After you have formulated a precise thesis statement, think about the content of your philosophy presentation – in what order you are going to explain different terms and positions, where you are going to present the position and argument of your opponent. Create an outline that will allow you to spot problems in your paper more easily. You may use the following general structure.

Introduction

  • Present your topic;
  • State thesis statement that you will defend;
  • Name the key points in your argument that support your thesis or state the issues that you will discuss and briefly outline the roadmap for your argument.

Main Body

  • Explain the arguments that you stated in the introduction and support them with citations, paraphrases, and quotes from the text;
  • Critically evaluate the arguments.

Conclusion

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
  • Restate the thesis statement and summarize the basic issues that you have explained in the body and your criticism.

Write an Introduction

There is no need to make your introduction lengthy. Don’t start it with a general statement that your topic is important and that philosophers have been addressing this question for hundreds of years. Make your introduction as brief as possible. Go directly to your topic and introduce your thesis statement. Explain technical or ambiguous terms that you use in your thesis or in your argument. You can also tell your readers why they should care about the truth of your claim. Briefly outline the argument you are going to provide during the presentation and briefly tell about the argument that you are going to criticize.

You may write the introduction using the first person singular: ‘First, I will analyze…’ Try to avoid empty or abstract sentences like this one: ‘The paper will then describe an argument which P. provides for his conclusion.’ You’d better briefly state your argument to inform your audience about the subject of your presentation.
Write

Write Exposition

It’s important to explain the whole argument before you start evaluating it. Try to make this part of your philosophy presentation as clear as possible and don’t forget to show logical connections between different points. Remember that an argument is the main goal of your paper so you should focus on it and never skip any steps. If you present any claim that your audience may find doubtful, give them good reasons that will convince them to accept it. Anticipate possible objections and present them to make your argument more compelling. Think about the strongest possible objections to the argument. You should also always present counterarguments and reasons which prove that your argument is true. Present your argument in one paragraph and then start another paragraph with: ‘However, other scholars believe that …’

Write an Evaluation

If your presentation is devoted to a specific philosophic theory, you need to discuss both its strengths and weaknesses. You need to tell about the strength of the theory, provide the arguments that support the theory and criticize them, and reply to the criticism. When making a critical evaluation of a philosopher’s position or theory, you can criticize their argument on the basis of 4 criteria:

  • Lack of clarity in the author’s reasoning;
  • Reasons that support the conclusion are false;
  • The author provides reasons which don’t support his conclusion;
  • The author doesn’t give implications of the reasoning.

You can also compare 2 or more theories. In such papers, your thesis could be that one point of view is better than the other or that neither of them is clearly stronger. You may argue that every position has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Write a Conclusion

Your conclusion should briefly summarize the results of your arguments. Don’t speak about new issues or new criticism. Think about finding an innovative way to wrap up your presentations. Sometimes, you need to say that problems still remain. For example, it would be better to conclude a presentation about Socrates’ theory in this way: ‘Socrates’ well-known theory of recollection can be defended against different objections and criticism.’

Edit and Proofread Your Draft

Reread your draft sentence by sentence and make sure that each point is expressed clearly. Make the necessary changes to improve the content and logic. Remember that your presentation should be written in a simple language and everything should be direct and to the point. Look for opportunities to improve your structure such as rewriting awkward sentences, adding appropriate examples and transitions. Make sure your talk is divided into sections which coincide with the logical structure and provide signposts for your audience.

Don’t attempt to cover too much material or present too complicated content. Your audience won’t be reading your paper, they will be listening to you. It’s critical to estimate how much time is needed for your audience to grasp your key points and how complex your argument should be to ensure that your audience will be able to fully understand it. If you present too much material, your listeners will not be able to follow your presentation because they will be bored or disengaged. That’s why you may need to simplify the material to make your philosophy presentation easy to follow. Use straightforward prose. Try to use short simple sentences and keep your paragraphs short as well. Express your ideas with only familiar words and be careful with using specialized language.

When you are satisfied with the content of your final draft, proofread it carefully to eliminate grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Read your paper aloud to make sure that your prose is clear and concise and ask someone else to read your paper. If this person is unable to understand your presentation completely and gets stuck on certain sentences, you should revise your content again and smooth it out.

Create Visual Aids for Your Presentation in Philosophy

Visual aids are important when delivering any presentation because they can help your audience understand better the structure of your argument and make it easier for them to follow it. Visual aids are also helpful for emphasizing your key points and key terms. You can create hand outs and slides (Keynote, PowerPoint) to make your presentation more impressive.

  • Make sure that your slides and handout are easy to read – avoid using fancy fonts and too small typeface.
  • Don’t include a lot of text on the slides because it’s a hindrance for your audience. The only exceptions are certain definitions that can help your listeners follow your logic.
  • Create bulleted lists of keywords and short phrases so that each point on your slides could be read in less than 2 seconds.
  • Never include long quotes or complex formulas because they are time-consuming to absorb.

Finally, when you are satisfied with the text and the slides, you should practice giving your philosophy presentation beforehand. In this way, you’ll increase your chances to avoid certain pitfalls of a bad presentation. When practicing, you should try to speak in a way that is natural to you and get the timing of your talk. Ask a couple of friends to listen while you are practicing and ask for their feedback. They can make some suggestions for adjusting. Practice delivering your presentation in philosophy several times and you’ll feel more confident in your ability to impress your audience and enhance your chances for the success.

We hope that our detailed writing guide will help you create and deliver a powerful philosophy presentation that will make a great impact on your audience.