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Please send them to Michael Kagan
Le Moyne College Department of Philosophy
Syracuse, NY 13214

One Way to Write a Philosophy Paper

There are many ways to write philosophy. These include essays, dialogues, and book length works. Here, I wish to provide an outline of one way to write an adequate, understandable, and brief essay in philosophy. The basic idea behind this outline is that a philosophy paper should be written with your readers in mind, in the hopes of convincing them of some philosophical insight or position [your thesis]. I believe writers who attempt to communicate clearly show respect to their readers by taking pains to make writer-reader communication possible through considering readers' concerns and objections.

The outline:

I. State your own thesis regarding one of the theses in the assigned readings.

A. Explain your thesis if yours, or give an interpretation, if it's someone else's.

B. Briefly state why you find this thesis convincing and important.

C. Briefly explain how you will argue for your thesis

II. Argue for your thesis.

A. [1] Support your first reason; justify it. Show its connection with your thesis. Consider possible objections to this reason. Try to show why, despite these objections, you maintain this is a good reason.

B. [2] Support your second reason, as above.

C. [3-n] As above.

D. [n+1] If there are potent objections to your thesis that your above arguments do not address, consider these objections here, as above.

III. Conclude.

A  Briefly restate your thesis and explain how you believe yourself to have shown it.

B. Add your extra insights related to the thesis with additional arguments as needed.

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