How to Write a Philosophy Paper: Develop a Thesis

Step by step guide to writing a philosophy paper.

What is a Thesis?

In philosophy papers, your thesis will state a position or claim. 

The thesis is the most important part of your paper; it tells the reader what your stance is on a particular topic and offers reasons for that stance.

Since the rest of your paper will be spent defending your thesis--offering support for the thesis and reasons why criticism of the thesis may not be valid--it's crucial that you develop a strong thesis.

A strong thesis will:

  1. answer a question;
  2. be engaging;  it can be challenged or opposed, thus also defended;
  3. pass the "so what? why should I care?" test;
  4. be supported by your paper;
  5. not be too broad nor too vague.

Source: Writing Guide for Philosophy. George Mason University.

Image source:  Sergui Bacioiu.  Ripple effect on water.  CC BY 2.0.  Wikimedia Commons.

Thesis Resources