Writing An Argument Paper writing is different from the writing you’ll be asked to do in other courses.
Most of the strategies described below will also serve you well when writing for other courses, but don’t automatically assume that they all will. Nor should you assume that every writing guideline you’ve been given by other teachers is important when you’re writing a philosophy paper. What Does One Do in a Philosophy Paper? Your paper must offer an argument.
It can’t consist in the mere report of your opinions, nor in a mere report of the opinions of the philosophers we discuss. You have to defend the claims you make. You have to offer reasons to believe them. I find that the following considerationsprovide a convincing argument for P. You’ll usually begin by putting some thesis or argument on the table for consideration. You’ll conclude by stating the upshot of your discussion.
For instance, should we accept the thesis? Or should we conclude that we don’t yet have enough information to decide whether the thesis is true or false? No matter which of these aims you set for yourself, you have to explicitly present reasons for the claims you make. You should try to provide reasons for these claims that might convince someone who doesn’t already accept them. People very often attempt to accomplish too much in a philosophy paper. The usual result of this is a paper that’s hard to read, and which is full of inadequately defended and poorly explained claims.
Don’t try to establish any earth-shattering conclusions in your 5 page paper. Done properly, philosophy moves at a slow pace. The aim of these papers is for you to display familiarity with the material and an ability to think critically about it. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t make an utterly distinctive contribution to human thought in your first attempts at philosophical writing. There will be plenty of time for that later on. Your critical intelligence will inevitably show up in whatever you write.
It need not always break new ground. If you do want to demonstrate independent thought, don’t think argument have to do it by coming up with a novel argument. You can also demonstrate independent writing by offering new examples of familiar points, or new counter-paper, or new analogies. Major Guidelines Thinking about a philosophical problem is hard. Writing about it ought not to be. You’re not trying to craft an fancy political speech. You’re just trying to present a claim and some reasons to believe it or disbelieve it, as straightforwardly as possible.
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Here are some guidelines on how to do that. Before you begin to write, you need to think about the questions: In what order should you explain the various terms and positions you’ll be discussing? At what point should you present your opponent’s position or argument? In what order should you offer your criticisms of your opponent?
Do any of the points you’re making presuppose that you’ve already discussed some other point, first? The overall clarity of your paper will greatly depend on its structure. That is why it is important to think about these questions before you begin to write. I strongly recommend that you make an outline of your paper, and of the arguments you’ll be presenting, before you begin to write. This lets you organize the points you want to make in your paper and get a sense for how they are going to fit together.
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