how to write an analytical philosophy paper
I. State your hypothesis. Your introductory paragraph must have in it a clear sentence that states the hypothesis you will defend. (If you are in doubt about how to phrase this, then just write: “In this paper I will defend the hypothesis that. “) If you cannot state a single hypothesis, then unless you are writing a book you must start over.
The first goal of an analytic philosophy paper is to present a clear valid argument; the second goal is to present a sound argument; the third goal is to advance knowledge (that is, present a sound argument for a novel conclusion of some importance). In an undergraduate class you are only expected to meet the first goal. In a graduate class, you are expected to strive for the second goal. The ambition of professional philosophers is to meet the third goal.
Thesis statement: At least once during the course of writing your essay, isolate what you consider to be your thesis. Is your proposition both arguable and reasonable? If it is obvious (i.e. Mary Rowlandson used the Bible for comfort during her captivity) you don’t have an argument. Argument requires analysis (i.e. taking things apart and explaining them). One test that may help is asking yourself what the opposite “side” of your argument would be. A good, complicated thesis (which was proposed by one of your classmates) is that “Although Mary Rowlandson says she often used the Bible as a source of comfort during her captivity, a closer reading of her narrative suggests her faith may have been more troubled by her experience than she lets on.” One useful structure for writing thesis statements is the “although” form used above: “Although x seems to be true about this piece of literature, y is in fact more true (or makes our thinking about x more complex).” In this form you present both sides of your argument at once and show which side you’re on. Your job in the paper is to convince your reader to join you. Another way to write an effective thesis statement is to use the form “If we look closely at x (e.g. how Bradford defines freedom) we discover y (that ).
Remember to write directive (sometimes called “topic”) sentences for your paragraphs . The first sentence of any paragraph should give your reader an idea of what the paragraph is going to say and how the paragraph will connect to the larger argument. It should have more to do with what you have to say about the materials than what the author him or herself has said.
b) the position that the paper will take on the question
b) support from other philosophers for that reason
My second argument that not-P is.
There are a variety of things you might aim to do in your paper. You’ll usually begin by putting some thesis or argument on the table for consideration. Then you’ll go on to do one or two of the following:
Sample Short Paper and Commentary
( i ) Citizens must obey any law or order of the state, whatever it asks them to do or to endure;