Writing a Philosophy Research Project
It is essential to establish that a philosophy research paper is different from other research papers. A philosophy research paper is a reasoned defense for a thesis rather than your opinion. It is not a review of what philosophers have said in the past on an issue or a work that presents the latest developments in a field. What does that mean? It means a philosophy research paper aims to establish a particular theme with the assistance of grounds or justification.
Things to note before writing
Note 1: Prior to writing, you need to highlight the theme you are trying to espouse. As simple as this sound, it isn’t easy to achieve. Having background knowledge of the theme you want to espouse is insufficient. Background knowledge, in this sense, means an idea that is not well structured, not explained clearly, and thereby making it difficult to comprehend. In your research paper, in one sentence, you talk about the goal you want to achieve. The inability to formulate a thesis in this manner means that you are having difficulty understanding the topic.
Note 2: The second step is to determine the manner you will use in showing your audience your thesis is correct. To achieve this, you must make use of rational persuasion, presenting arguments. It is in this area many students make mistakes a lot. Students tend to believe that because their thesis is correct, there is no reason to argue much. However, the ideal thing is to assume your audience has a counter position to your view.
Note 3: Mentioning all arguments that give credence to the position you have chosen is another common mistake student make a lot. On some occasions, this is described as the “fortress approach.” In reality, the likelihood of producing a good research paper with this approach is quite low. There are numerous reasons for this.
- Firstly, with many arguments, your audience will most likely go off track, and this is most common if the arguments tackle the issue from different perspectives.
- Another reason is that the arguments that will gain prominence will most likely be extremely good and bad. Hence, it is advisable to make use of the most solid arguments. Leaving good and bad arguments might send a signal that you could not differentiate between the two.
- Thirdly, making too many arguments will make your paper lose focus because you will spread out your ideas too thinly than to go in-depth.
Considering the topic should be the first step to produce a good research paper. Your audience won’t know this except through the way you structure your ideas and pages. So it is best to say what you mean and what you want to achieve.
Some Suggestions for Writing Your Philosophy Paper
Organize carefully: Like we have pointed out for many research paper guidelines, create a structure of how you want to build your argument. Your paper should be built logically, thereby making it simple for your audience to understand. If your paper is written reasonably, the reading will flow well for your audience. In fact, you should take a few days off before you start writing after creating an outline for your research paper.
Use the right words: After creating a structure, the next step is selecting words to convey your ideas. Avoid choosing words that you feel is the closest to pass across the message you want; it is essential to use a dictionary. Notice that “infer” does not mean “imply”; “disinterested” does not mean “uninterested,”; and “reference” does not mean either “illusion” or “allusion.” Make certain that you can use “its” and “it’s” correctly. Lastly, it is important to crosscheck words spelled, and you are not sure.
Support your claims: It is best to think that your reader is querying the base of your argument, so at every point, you should back up your argument with evidence whenever you feel your audience won’t accept your position as the truth.
Give credit: When writing your research paper, you should reference the works used, give credit to the authors. Failure to do is equal to plagiarizing. In the academic community, plagiarizing is frowned at, and it can lead to the end of your academic experience. The truth is referencing your work makes it stronger and validates your argument.
Anticipate objections: The truth is that if your position on an idea is worth supporting, some people will certainly reject it for varying reasons, and this will lead to criticism of your paper. Hence, to overcome this challenge, anticipate the strongest objections to your arguments, and demonstrate how to surmount them. Doing this translates into disarming your opposition before they attack. What is needed here is to anticipate the arguments against your idea if you don’t disarm them first. The other trick is to accept that they are plausible points; however, they miss the mark when it comes to your stand. The truth is that it takes quite a while to develop and get used to this style of argument in philosophical writing; nevertheless, it is worth it.
How to write a philosophy paper
The introduction is the first contact with the reader. This is an important moment, which already shows whether you have mastered the method. An examiner roughly knows your grade just by reading the introduction. You might as well not rush it!
An intro is always structured in 3 or 4 steps:
- hook (optional)
- definition of subject terms
- statement of the problem
- plan announcement
The examiner will look for these steps in your text. If it doesn’t, your introduction is confusing or lacks structure. You must, therefore, be as clear as possible. The good idea is to state a new point with each new step. This visually indicates the change and helps the reader follow your thinking.
Step 1: the hook
This is an optional step. It consists of taking an “eye-catching” element to capture the reader’s attention. We start with something “outside of philosophy” (historical fact, recent event, fiction, etc.) and bring it to the subject. The idea is not to start too dryly, directly defining subject terms.
Step 2: define the terms
It is about explaining the meaning that one gives to the words of the subject. Providing definitions helps to agree on “what we are talking about” and avoids misunderstandings. Think about a topic on morality: it is better to define morality from the start; otherwise, we risk not understanding each other.
Step 3: pose the problem
The definition of the terms reveals an intellectual problem, a paradox. This is called problematic. The introduction should clearly explain what this problem is. It is not just a point of asking a question, but of showing the reader that something is “not working” with the definitions.
This is a crucial step in research. If you don’t identify a problem, you have no reason to write an essay. In reality, your whole essay is an essay to solve this problem. So you have to be very educational.
Step 4: announce the plan
Once the problem is presented, we take steps to solve it; that is to say, the plan. Announcing the plan shows you know where you are going and gives an idea of the steps you will take.
Some teachers prefer suspense and say that the plan announcement is optional. Others say the opposite: “If there is no plan announcement, there is no plan.” To be safe, it is always better to announce your plan.
When to write the introduction
The introduction can be written before writing the development, or conversely, after having written it. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Writing the introduction first takes more skill, but often gives a more convincing result. Writing it after development makes it possible to catch errors, but does not guarantee a good research paper.
You can also write the definitions and the problem first, and complete the plan announcement once the paper has been fully written. This allows you to have a clear idea of the problem and the meaning of the words, without forcing you to follow a plan that you have not completely planned.
And after the intro?
Body of work
Once the introduction is written, you will write about your development. It often consists of different large parts, each of which contains sub-parts. Each subpart should assert an idea and give a reason for accepting that idea.
After stating your point and backing it up with valid arguments, it is now time to state the ‘take-home’ of the research paper. At this point, you point out the main theme you have promoted in your research work.