How to Write a Philosophy Paper

How to Write a Philosophy Paper

Phil 205

How to Write a Philosophy Paper

Basic Paper Format

  1. Your paper must be a critique of our class readings.
  2. Papers must be double-spaced, 12 pt font, have one-inch margins, and pages should be numbered.
  3. Your papers should be between 4-6 pages in length.
  4. Please use Chicago Manual of Style for your citation method. Include a bibliography.
  5. Please indicate your pledge to the honor code.


You are required to write your paper according to this format. No exceptions. Here's an example of what your outline should look like. Your topic must be from one of the readings between week 8 and week 13. Please consult with me about your topic proposal.

Central thesis: I will argue that the United States is morally obligated to feed people in poorer nations.

First premise: If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.

Second premise: By offering help to those in desperate need, we will contribute to the global economy by establishing loyal consumers. This will result in greater happiness.

  1. Objection: This proposal demands a radical and drastic change in our current way of life and many of our traditional moral views.
  1. Response to objection: United States have experienced many changes about moral views throughout its entire history. Moreover, the real question is NOT whether such a proposal is new and different, but rather if it is well-reasoned and thought out.

Conclusion: Therefore, United States is morally obligated to help people in poorer nations.

Grading Criteria

● Thesis: your thesis statement is clear and defensible and contained in the introduction. A concise summary of the steps in the argument is offered.

● Premise Support: statements of evidence that link to and develop your main point. These are the reasons for why the reader should be convinced of your thesis. Your premises are impartial in that they are open to everyone regardless of gender, age, race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, etc.

●Objection: clear, honest, and challenging.

●Response: well thought out, reasonable response to objection.

● Key words/ideas: your paper contains accurate and precise descriptions of the issue. Key words or phrases are clearly defined and properly used. Direct quotations used effectively

● Examples: your examples are original, relevant, and they help the reader understand your point.

Original Contribution: your paper went beyond what was said in class and/or the textbook.

● Clarity: your paper has complete sentences and good grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The prose is very clear and easy to understand. Your argument has smooth transitions and proceeds logically from point to point.

● Body: it is easy to follow your argument because you consistently used indicator words (e.g. because, therefore, since, etc).

● Conclusion: A concise summary of your essay, including quick references to objections and your responses. A final word about why the issue is important and difficult to resolve.

Common mistakes to avoid

  1. Trying to discuss too many arguments or objections. Limit yourself to the strongest arguments and the strongest objections.
  2. Using statements that are too vague: “My second premise is about the issue of privacy.” What is the premise? State exactly what the premise is and avoid the “fluff.”
  3. Not choosing a good objection. A good objection is one that most people would sympathize with and it directly relates to your central thesis.
  4. Restating your original argument (central thesis) as a response to an objection. The response should support the original argument, but also take into account the objection raised.
  5. Not using transitions to make it clear to your reader what is happening in the essay. A transition might be something like “A possible objection to this argument is that…” “In response to this objection, I claim that….”

Due Date: Tuesday, Dec. 13 2:00 pm