Handout: Writing a Philosophy Paper

Writing a good philosophy paper is in many ways just like writing any other good paper, but is in some ways very different from the kinds of papers you may be asked to write in other disciplines. Certain elements common to all papers—for example, structure and organization—are particularly important in philosophy papers, and certain practices forbidden or required in other disciplines will not be here. Above all, what you should aim to produce is a reasoned defense of a thesis. The thesis is what you are trying to get your reader to accept, and the reasoned defense is the argument or arguments that justify the acceptance of your thesis. Of course, “argument” here means a philosophical argument consisting of premises and a conclusion.

This handout explains the three main criteria by which your philosophy paper will be graded, along with more specific expectations and guidelines.

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