How to Write a Philosophy Paper: Structure & Outline

Step by step guide to writing a philosophy paper.

Outline & Structure

"...[one] should first sketch its general outline and then fill in the episodes and amplify it in detail."

--Aristotle


Image source:  School of Athens. Plato and Aristotle.  Public domain.  Wikimedia Commons.

Structure

"A philosophy paper presents a reasoned defense of some thesis. So a philosophy paper typically does at least one of the following:

  • Defend a thesis by offering plausible reasons to support it
  • Defend a thesis by showing that arguments against it are unconvincing
  • Criticize a thesis by showing that the arguments for it are unconvincing
  • Contrast two or more views on a given issue and argue for one view over the other."

Source: Bumpus, Ann. Writing the Philosophy Paper. Dartmouth University. 2004. 

Outline

 

Source:  Feinberg, Joel.  Doing Philosophy: A Guide to the Writing of Philosophy Papers.  Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008. p. 6.