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How to Write a Philosophy Paper: Writing Guide with 25 Topics

Table of Contents:

  1. What Is a Philosophy Paper?
  2. Types of Philosophy Papers
  3. Philosophy Paper Format
  4. Philosophy Paper Outline
  5. How to Start a Philosophical Paper?
  6. How to Conclude a Philosophy Paper?
  7. Philosophy Paper Writing Tips
  8. Mistakes in Philosophy Paper Writing
  9. How to Write a Philosophy Essay
  10. Argumentative Philosophy Essay Topics

If you have decided to obtain higher education in college or university, you will definitely need to know how to write a philosophy paper. If you have never had a Philosophy course, you should master the principles of philosophy essay writing. At first, the assignment may seem hard as it involves a lot of contemplation on a specific philosophic issue. Normally, a philosophic essay may focus on the issues presented in books, movies, articles, and other sources.

However, once you master the principles of critical and analytical thinking and attain more fluency in writing, it will be easier for you to write on philosophic topics. One of the underlying principles of philosophic topics is to be able to understand the core message of the assigned book, journal or movie and be able to interpret the idea.

When it comes to philosophy essay writing, the crucial stages refer to preparation and ample research. Even if the essay is on the philosophic topic, it should be supported by some expert evidence taken from credible sources. Therefore, you should devote ample attention to the pre-writing stage, which entails the process of collecting information and reviewing the literature.

Philosophy Paper Writing Guide

Philosophy Paper Writing Guide

One of the core aspects to take into consideration while working on a philosophy essay is to realize that this essay type significantly differs from the other kinds of academic assignments. The approach to writing a philosophy essay would greatly differ from the approach towards literary analysis writing or research writing. Besides, a philosophy essay should not be treated as a report of a specific literary work or video source either. At the same time, you should not turn a philosophy essay into a personal narrative or an opinion paper – rather be sure to reflect on your own standpoint on the topic along with providing expert evidence. Such an approach will add more rationality to the discussion. Check out steps that will help you to provide a high-quality philosophy essay:

  1. Select an essay topic.
  2. Read literature pertaining to the topic and jot down the most important information.
  3. Come up with a strong and clear argumentative thesis statement.
  4. Devise an outline for the paper.
  5. Write an introduction.
  6. Work on the body paragraphs.
  7. Come up with a concise conclusive paragraph.
  8. Pay attention to the formatting and citation of the paper.
  9. Revise the paper after writing.
  10. Edit and proofread the paper before submission.

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What Is a Philosophy Paper?

It is essential to gain an in-depth understanding of what is a philosophy paper if you want to get an excellent grade for paper writing. A philosophy paper may be defined in the following ways:

  1. A philosophy paper is a kind of academic writing that should provide a solid and plausible defense of the major paper argument, which is also known as a thesis statement. The underlying task of the philosophy paper is to put forward a strong and clear argumentative thesis statement that will be supported by credible peer-reviewed sources.
  2. A philosophy essay is a type of academic paper that should include reasonable defending statements of a central paper argument. The central argument should be well-formulated in a thesis statement, so writing a thesis statement should be made the initial writing stage of the philosophy paper. Based on the idea conveyed in the thesis, the writer should further conduct a relevant literature review and find appropriate evidence for the materials provided. To provide a proper discussion and analysis of the topic, one needs to find adequate supporting evidence. Each idea put forward by a student should be properly supported and illustrated.
  3. A philosophy paper is a type of academic writing that requires one to work in careful and attentive steps. The process of philosophy paper writing entails careful pre-writing stage denoting literature review. One may also try to take an already existing thesis formulated by some philosopher and try to either prove or disprove it.

Types of Philosophy Papers

Types of Philosophy Papers

  1. Application paper. This type of philosophy paper requires one to take a specific theory and apply it in a new situation. As a rule, such types of papers are assigned in ethics or business ethics. To succeed in this type of writing, you need to demonstrate a solid understanding of the given philosophical theories. The main idea behind this type of writing is to apply the concepts to the specific case or situation stated in the essay prompt.
  2. Thought experiment. This is a widespread paper type among students studying the philosophy of medicine or bioethics. When you are assigned this essay type, you are required to write your contemplation on a specific thought experiment. In some way, this philosophy essay is similar to a case study assignment.
  3. Critical summary. This essay type is based on some research findings that are elaborated on with the help of your critical and analytical thinking skills. Remember that it is not enough to provide the main issues from the assigned reading but the main focus should be placed on the evaluation and critical analysis. This work is rather subjective as it involved a student’s perspective on a specific issue.
  4. Comparison and contrast philosophy essay. When required to write this essay, you are expected to compare and contrast different subjects, people, events, etc. You may do it according to specific criteria.
  5. Thesis paper. Here make sure you do not confuse a thesis paper with a thesis statement since the former is a wholly separate piece of academic work. A thesis paper is a rather serious academic work that should defend a specific position by supporting it with expert evidence, figures, statistics, and other facts taken from credible sources. The central argument of the thesis paper should be formulated succinctly in one sentence.
  6. Exegesis/research philosophy paper. Here you need to research a specific philosophy topic and provide a coherent well-synthesized paper. The core aim is to gain an in-depth understanding of a specific issue and understand the main concepts really well.

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Philosophy Paper Format

When it comes to the formatting of philosophy papers, there is no unified style. There is only one major requirement – to stick to the instructions of the required formatting style and be consistent with it. To maintain proper formatting, be sure to get an in-depth understanding of such major formatting styles like APA, MLA, and Chicago among others.

  1. APA style stands for the American Psychological Association and it is mainly required for writing essays in philosophy and psychology among adjacent disciplines. To provide a well-aligned citation in this style, be sure to include the author’s last name, but the year of publication in parentheses, and write the full title of the source. Afterward, mention the location of publication and the name of the publisher.
  2. MLA style stands for the Modern Language Association and it is mainly used for citing philosophical papers as well. Citation rules slightly differ from those required in APA and are as follows: the author’s last and first names, the title of the source, the title of the journal or other media of publication, the name of the publisher, and the year of publication.
  3. Chicago style is mainly used for formatting not only philosophy works but also historical papers. The template for referencing sources in Chicago style is the following: Last name and first name of the author, the name of the source, place of publication, publisher, and year of publishing.

Philosophy Paper Outline

Philosophy Paper Outline

One of the essential steps of philosophy paper writing is to provide a philosophy paper outline since it will help you to structure the paper and decide on the number of body paragraphs. When writing an outline, you should gather ideas for the introductory paragraph in order to provide sufficient background information, come up with arguments for the development of the body paragraphs, develop the thesis statement, as well as come up with examples and illustrations for developing the ideas.

On the whole, when writing an outline, be sure to follow such steps:

  • write a brief and clear introductory paragraph, where you state what you will do in the paper, how you will approach the topic, etc.;
  • provide a list of arguments for and against the given issue;
  • summarize your own position and make sure you have argued it properly.

A common template for the philosophy essay is as follows:

  1. Introduction (it should take up no more than 1/3 of a page);
  2. Background information on the topic in order to clarify the issue to the readers as well as define the approximate plan what you will write about;
  3. First body paragraph, where you indicate the first aspect of the given philosophical problem;
  4. Second body paragraph, where you introduce the second aspect;
  5. Third body paragraph, where you introduce the third aspect;
  6. Conclusive paragraph, where you reiterate the thesis as well as provide a summary of your main findings. Sometimes, you should even provide a call to action in the final paragraph.

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How to Start a Philosophical Paper?

Before you start writing the paper, make sure you properly understand the assignment. Any philosophy paper is not limited to self-reflection or self-expression. Be sure that you need to find adequate supporting evidence for your arguments and claims. So, to properly start your topic, identify your topic and define it, formulate a strong and clear argumentative thesis statement, and come up with the main philosophical postulates.

For example:

‘Cogito ergo sum’ means ‘I think therefore I am.’ This is one of the most outstanding and misleadingly simple proverbs in all western beliefs that ever existed. The concept of cogito is very important for Descartes's venture in the Meditations. This concept is important to him since it forms the basic building blocks of his philosophy. There exist two different definitions of cogito; an institution and an immediate inference from the premise ‘I think.’ The following section highlights the steps used to reach the certainty of the Cogito.


How to Write a Philosophy Paper Introduction?

If you have difficulties starting to write a paper or if you do not know how to start the introduction, try to formulate a thesis statement first. It will help you identify the central idea or subject of the paper. Afterward, you will better know how to begin the introduction and how to grab the attention of your readers with the help of the hook. The hook of the introduction can be virtually anything: some controversial fact, a surprising fact, some impressive statistics, some dramatic evidence, a rhetorical question, etc. On the whole, whatever information you have decided to include in the introduction, make sure it ends with a thesis statement.

Elements of Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are aimed to elaborate on the thesis statement you have formulated in the introduction. As such, each aspect mentioned in the introduction should be discussed and analyzed in body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should focus on a single aspect. A separate message or idea you discuss in the body paragraph should be formulated in the topic sentence. Afterward, you need to provide examples, illustrations, and reasoning. Moreover, expert evidence is also encouraged. Keep in mind that you should use transitions between paragraphs in order to ensure smoothness between ideas.

How to Conclude a Philosophy Paper?

Many students view philosophy paper conclusion as the least important paragraph. However, it is not true since you should not merely repeat the information you have already presented but reiterate the thesis and pinpoint the main findings. Moreover, you need to interpret the purpose of the paper and pinpoint its significance. One of the suggested ways to finish a philosophy essay is to write a rhetorical question at the end. Keep in mind that no new facts or evidence should be added in the conclusion.

For example:

One more reason to think that this theory is not so much possible in the modern world is the lack of places, where a person can live simply since people always have to go somewhere, for instance, to work, school, university, etc. This is why people in today’s world cannot follow the suggestions made by Thoreau. Thoreau's vision of government is rather controversial, because people are entirely decadent, and they need to have an authority in order to avoid chaos. Since the authority is biblically-based, one can state that it is necessary and good.


One more example of how to write a philosophy paper conclusion

In my opinion, the philosophy of essentialism is not useful due to the following reasons. First, during the lecture, no one can ensure that the attention of the students is indeed drawn to the lecturer. Instead, many of them might be thinking about thousands of things irrelevant to the subject matter of the course. In addition, the denial of a vocational course is a mistake as well since nowadays the economy needs specialists who are aware of the tiniest aspects of a particular field.


Philosophy Paper Writing Tips

Philosophy Paper Writing Tips

If you have never been assigned philosophy papers, you might find philosophy paper writing tips really helpful. Please find the following checklist to be sure that your paper is properly written:

  1. The essay should contain a properly developed strong and clear argument. Read it a few times and imagine yourself to be a reader of your essay. Would you understand everything properly? Does the idea convey in the thesis make sense to you?
  2. The central argument of the paper should be critiqued. Are all of the arguments relevant and appropriate?
  3. The thesis statement should be defended. Check whether the thesis is properly supported by the end of the essay. Is it believable?
  4. Strengths and weaknesses of each of the opposing viewpoints. Provide a comparison and contrast critical analysis of the ideas.
  5. Do you have adequate examples that help you interpret the central idea put forward in the thesis?

After you have written the paper, be sure to revise it and edit to make sure the content is logical and coherent. Also check the paper for grammatical, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. Remember that the first impression matters, so avoid typos and awkward mistakes. Check whether everything is clear. If some points are lacking, add them.

Mistakes in Philosophy Paper Writing

As you check your paper for mistakes, pay attention to the following criteria since students usually make mistakes in them:

  1. Paper organization and paragraph structures.
  2. Appropriate choice of vocabulary and structures.
  3. Sufficient support for your argument.
  4. Flawless referencing according to the academic standards.
  5. Strong defense of arguments.
  6. Meticulous editing.
  7. One idea that holds the whole paper.
  8. Proper citation of sources in the text.
  9. Rough draft writing is encouraged as the initial writing stage.
  10. Postponing the writing process is not encouraged – make sure you start on time.
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If you want to know more information about the nature of mistakes students tend to make, read on the information presented below.

Double-check how convincing you sound in your arguments. If you agree with a particular stance, it does not mean at all that your audience will agree as well. In any case, if everyone agreed with that fact, then no argument would be present there. So, present the argument in such light that it is worth proof and support. As such, find adequate supporting evidence and rely on expert opinions concerning your topic. Think of the situation as if your target audience is your opponents in a discussion and you need to sound persuasive and solid when providing your claims.

Besides, check on the introduction. Make sure it is not long since it will distract the attention of your readers from the main point of the paper. Make the introductory paragraph as brief as possible and provide only the information that is needed for the general understanding of the topic.

Pay attention to quotations and citations (if you have used any in the text of your paper). They should not be too long and they should not be used on their own either. Remember that you cannot use a quote as a separate idea. A citation or a quotation can only be used as an illustration, example or supporting evidence for some idea/ argument.

When you write a philosophy paper, it is a must that you take a specific side. Not taking any side will not ensure you successful and properly developed your philosophical essay.

At the same time, even after you have taken a specific side, do not attack your opponents. Do not act the way as if your position is the only one that is right. Your role is to defend your argument but not to completely undermine and devalue the others.

Avoid using numerous direct quotes because your paper will look like a compilation of quotations.

When working on a philosophical paper, you are free to write in the first person and use first-person pronouns. You should not be restricted from saying what you want, so express your opinion freely. At the same time, be more cautious about using some professional terms and some specific vocabulary. The way of writing should be clear to your readers.

How to Write a Philosophy Essay

It is essential to know how to write a philosophy essay if you strive at academic excellence and want to achieve only high grades. Normally, when you are asked to provide a philosophy essay, you are expected to take into consideration some philosophical point or opinion that was presented by some famous philosopher and base your essay on supporting, refuting, discussing, critically analyzing it or offering some additional viewpoint to it. Actually, here every student gets the freedom of what to do with the claim or statement. One may even compare and contrast arguments in favor of or against it. It is also possible to offer objections to the argument or critically discuss what consequences it might have, etc.

Therefore, to put it briefly, here are the following tips on writing a proper philosophy essay:

  1. Start by formulating a strong and clear argumentative thesis statement.
  2. Identify the core terms and concepts that will be used in the paper and make sure they are clear to your target audience. If needed, please define and interpret them.
  3. If needed, pinpoint the significance of your thesis statement and accentuate why it is worth the attention of your readers.
  4. Provide a short explanation of what arguments you will provide in favor of your thesis statement.
  5. If needed, provide an explanation of the claim you intend to critique.
  6. Put forward an argument in support of your thesis.
  7. Make your argument stronger by formulating objections to it and then refuting them.
  8. In conclusion, be sure to highlight the importance of the argument and what it has led to.

What Is Philosophy Essay

It is essential to be well versed in the principles of philosophy essay writing, as this paper type is different from the majority of writing assignments. One of the first aspects needed to clarify is that a philosophy essay resembles neither a research paper nor a self-expression or self-reflection paper. More so, it is not a report on the ideas put forward by some scholars or philosophers. Another aspect that makes it different from the other paper types is that it does not rely on experiments or tests. In short, a philosophy essay may be equaled to the reasonable defense of the central idea, or a thesis statement. So, when you are working on a philosophy essay, be sure that you will have to present a specific thesis, defend it, and also introduce your own opinion concerning the paper. Normally, the final decision on whether the argument is plausible or not (or whether you share this stance or not) can be provided in the conclusion.

Normally, a philosophy essay has the following constituents:

  1. Formulation of the thesis statement.
  2. Interpretation and analysis of the thesis statement.
  3. Arguments supporting the central claim of the essay.
  4. Objective arguments concerning the thesis statement.
  5. Responsive statements related to the objections.

Philosophy Essay Template

Paragraph One: Overview of the Idea / Thesis Statement

Do not start your introductory paragraph with the argument, First of all, provide background information and merely explain what you intend to prove with your main paper claim. Keep in mind that the introduction, as it can be inferred from its name, should introduce the paper topic to the target audience. To put it simply, the introduction should provide an explanation of what the paper is about. Moreover, indicate why the topic is significant and why the issue is important for consideration. Sometimes, it may be easier for you to write the introduction last when you have the whole paper completed. It is one of the strategies where you can write the introduction “with the benefit of hindsight.”

Regardless of the time you choose to write the introduction, at the very beginning or at the end, please consider that there are other paper parts that are even more important, such as the body paragraphs with the discussion of the arguments. However, please keep in mind that if you fail to interest your audience with your introduction, your reader will hardly ever read the main body of the paper.

Paragraph Two: Start of the Main Body of the Paper

Start by presenting the first body paragraph and the first idea you plan to convey. This is the first paragraph where you start to provide a layout of the central argument of the paper. The first aspect you introduce in the first body paragraph should have been mentioned first in the thesis statement.

Paragraph three: Body paragraph

Paragraph four: Body paragraph etc.

The number of body paragraphs depending on the number of ideas you intend to present in the paper.

Paragraph [...]: Conclusion

How to Structure a Philosophy Essay?

How to Structure a Philosophy Essay

It is essential to know how to structure a philosophy essay in order to ensure proper ideas development.

Philosophy essay introduction. Its main purpose is to acquaint the reader with the essence of the paper and make sure the ideas are presented in a logical and concise way. Moreover, the introduction should present the central idea in the clearest and straightway so that it is well understood.

Thesis statement. This is a one-sentence statement that should convey the central argument/ claim of the paper. It should further be discussed and developed in the main body paragraphs. It is essential that the thesis statement is clear. However, it should not be an indisputable statement as it will be either proved or disproved.

Philosophy essay conclusion. This is a closing paragraph of the essay and its main point is to summarize all of the supporting and refuting arguments presented in the paper. Moreover, it should once again pinpoint the importance of the topic and its exploration.

Double-check whether each paragraph contains an argument and counter-argument concerning the claim. When it comes to the division of paragraphs, make sure there are proper transitions between them. Check out some of the most popular transitions that may be used in an essay:

  • moreover;
  • thus;
  • furthermore;
  • in addition;
  • in conclusion;
  • besides;
  • as well as;
  • correspondingly;
  • indeed, etc.

With the help of transitions, the essay will be more smooth and logical. Therefore, do not underestimate the importance of using them in academic writing.

Argumentative Philosophy Essay Topics

Argumentative Philosophy Essay Topics

If you have been assigned to write an argumentative essay on a philosophy topic, the following argumentative philosophy essay topics will come in handy for you:

  1. Do you agree that philosophy is not an ordinary discipline and that not all people can understand its concepts? What about the claim that it is a kind of a „next-level“ discipline?
  2. Do you agree that philosophy and religion are really contradictory to each other in their studies and postulates?
  3. Are humans evil by nature?
  4. Do you believe in the concept of ageism? How can it be eradicated/
  5. Are moral and ethical principles inherent in human nature? Why (not)?
  6. What are the roots of happiness? Can they be traced back to financial success?
  7. Perception of beauty: are there real standards or is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?
  8. Is patriotism always a virtue? When can it turn into a vice?
  9. Do you agree that morality stems from education or upbringing?
  10. Can atheism be considered a true belief?
  11. Do you believe that many of the ideas and standpoints of the classic philosophers are irrelevant nowadays?
  12. Do all burdens in people`s lives come from conscience?
  13. Is there a single purpose in people`s lives?
  14. Pros and cons of having firm religious beliefs.
  15. How far do you agree: if God was real, there would not be so many troubles int he world?
  16. Do you believe that ethics and moral principles are the results of human cunning nature? Were they created with the aim of excusing some actions?
  17. Are people selfish about their birth?
  18. Do you believe that truth is a subjective concept that may change depending on the circumstances?
  19. Do you believe in the division between good and bad, white and black? Or is it merely a matter of interpreting some types of behavior?
  20. Ethical aspects of euthanasia.
  21. Arguments for and against abortion.
  22. Principles of Nazi philosophy.
  23. How ethical it is when a person uses some substances that enhance his/ her cognitive abilities?
  24. Are moral and ethical rules enslaving?
  25. Ethical aspects of abortion.

148 Philosophy Paper Topics

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