What Is a Philosophy Essay: Definition
Philosophical writing isn't your typical assignment. Its aim isn't to provide an overview of professional philosophers' works and say whether you agree with them.
Philosophy demands becoming a philosopher for the time of writing, thinking analytically and critically of ideas, pondering the Big Questions, and asking 'Why?'. That's why it requires time and energy, as well as a lot of thinking on your part.
But what is philosophy essay, exactly? If you're tasked with writing one, you'll have to select a thesis in the philosophical domain and argue for or against it. Then, you can support your thesis with other professional philosophers' works. But it has to contain your own philosophical contribution, too. (This is only one definition of philosophy essay, of course.)
What's a Good Philosophy Paper Outline?
Before you start writing your first line, you should make a philosophy essay outline. Think of it as a plan for your philosophy paper that briefly describes each paragraph's point.
As for how to write a philosophy essay outline, here are a few tips for you:
- Start with your thesis. What will you be arguing for or against?
- Read what philosophical theory has to say and note sources for your possible arguments and counterarguments.
- Decide on the definitions of core concepts to include precise philosophical meanings in your essay.
- After careful and extended reflection, organize your ideas following the structure below.
How To Structure a Philosophy Paper?
Like any other essay, a philosophy paper consists of an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. Sticking to this traditional philosophy essay structure will help you avoid unnecessary stress.
Here's your mini-guide on how to structure a philosophy essay:
- Introduction - Clarify the question you will be answering in your philosophy paper. State your thesis – i.e., the answer you'll be arguing for. Explain general philosophical terms if needed.
- Main body - Start with providing arguments for your stance and refute all the objections for each of them. Then, describe other possible answers and their reasoning – and counter the main arguments in their support.
- Conclusion - Sum up all possible answers to the questions and reiterate why yours is the most viable one.
What's an Appropriate Philosophy Essay Length?
In our experience, 2,000 to 2,500 words are enough to cover the topic in-depth without compromising the quality of the writing.
However, see whether you have an assigned word limit before getting started. If it's shorter or longer than we recommend, stick to that word limit in writing your essay on philosophy.
What Format Should You Use for a Philosophy Paper?
As a philosophy and psychology essay writing service, we can attest that most students use the APA guidelines as their philosophy essay format. However, your school has the final say in what format you should stick to.
Sometimes, you can be asked to use a different college philosophy essay format, like MLA or Chicago. But if you're the one to choose the guidelines and don't know which one would be a good philosophy argumentative essay format, let's break down the most popular ones.
APA, MLA, and Chicago share some characteristics:
- Font: Time New Roman, 12 pt
- Line spacing: double
- Margins: 1" (left and right)
- Page number: in the header
But here's how they differ:
- A title page required
- Sources list: 'References' page
- No title page required
- Sources list: 'Works cited' page
- A title page required
- Sources list: 'Bibliography' page
- Footnotes and endnotes are required for citations
Guideline on How to Write a Philosophy Essay
If you still don't feel that confident about writing a philosophy paper, don't worry. Philosophical questions, by definition, have more than one interpretation. That's what makes them so challenging to write about.
To help you out in your philosophical writing journey, we've prepared this list of seven tips on how to write a philosophy essay.
- Read Your Sources Thoughtfully
Whether your recommended reading includes Dante's Divine Comedy or Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism Is a Humanism, approach your sources with curiosity and analytical thinking. Don't just mindlessly consume those texts. Instead, keep asking yourself questions while you're reading them, such as:
- What concepts and questions does the author address?
- What's the meaning behind key ideas and metaphors in the text?
- What does the author use as a convincing argument?
- Are there any strange or obscure distinctions?
As for which sources you should turn to, that all depends on your central question; philosophy topics for essay are diverse and sometimes opposed. So, you'll have to do your fair share of research.
- Brainstorm & Organize Your Ideas
As you're reading those texts, jot down what comes to your mind. It can be a great quote you've stumbled upon, an idea for an argument, or your thoughtful, critical responses to certain opinions.
Then, sort through and organize all of those notes into an outline for your essay in philosophy. Make sure that it holds up in terms of logic. And ensure that your arguments and counterarguments are compelling, sensible, and convincing!
Now, you might be wondering how to write a philosophy essay introduction. Don't worry: there's an explanation right below!
- Craft Your Introductory Paragraph
Think of your introduction as a road map preparing your reader for the journey your essay will take them on. This road map will describe the key 'stops' in your essay on philosophy: your topic, stance, and how you will argue for it – and refute other stances.
Don't hesitate to write it out as a step-by-step guide in the first or third person. For example: 'First, I will examine... Then, I will dispute... Finally, I will present….'
Need an example of an excellent introduction for a philosophy paper? You’ll be thrilled to know that we have one of our philosophy essay examples below!
- Present Your Key Arguments & Reflections
Philosophy papers require a fair share of expository writing. This is where you demonstrate your understanding of the topic. So, make your exposition extensive and in-depth, and don't omit anything crucial.
As for the rest of the main body, we've covered how to structure a philosophy essay above. In short, you'll need to present supporting arguments, anticipate objections, and address them.
Use your own words when writing a philosophy paper; avoid pretentious or verbose language. Yes, some technical philosophical terms may be necessary. But the point of a philosophical paper is to present your stance – and develop your own philosophy – on the topic.
- Don't Shy Away from Critical Ideas
Whenever you examine a philosophical theory or text, treat it with a fair share of criticism. This is what it means in practice – and how to structure a philosophy essay around your critical ideas:
- Pinpoint what the theory's or idea's strengths are and every valid argument in its support;
- See the scope of its application – perhaps, there are exceptions you can use as counterarguments;
- Research someone else's criticism of the theory or idea. Develop your own criticism, as well;
- Check if the philosopher already addressed those criticisms.
- Ponder Possible Answers to Philosophical Questions
Writing an essay in philosophy is, in fact, easier for some students as the topic can always have multiple answers, and you can choose any of them. However, this can represent an even tougher challenge for other students. After all, you must consider those possible answers and address them in the paper.
How do you pinpoint those possible answers? Some of them can come to your mind when you brainstorm, especially if you'll be writing about one of the Big Questions. Others will reveal themselves when you start reading other philosophers' works.
Remember to have arguments for and against each possible answer and address objections.
- Write a Powerful Conclusion
The conclusion is where you sum up your paper in just one paragraph. Reiterate your thesis and what arguments support it. But in philosophical writing, you can rarely have a clear, undebatable answer by the end of the paper. So, it's fine if your conclusion doesn't have a definitive verdict.
Here are a few tips on how to write a conclusion in a philosophy essay:
- Don't introduce new arguments or evidence in conclusion – they belong in the main body;
- Avoid overestimating or embellishing the level or value of your work;
- Best conclusions are obvious and logical for those reading the paper – i.e.; a conclusion shouldn't be surprising at all;
- Stay away from poorly explained claims in conclusion.
Philosophical Essay Example
Sometimes, it's better to see how it's done once than to read a thousand guides. We know that like no one else, so we have prepared this short philosophy essay example to show you what excellent philosophy papers look like:
Like this example? Wondering how to get a custom essay as great as it is? You're in luck: you can buy online essay at EssayPro without breaking the bank! Keep in mind: this example is only a fraction of what our writers are capable of!
30 Philosophy Paper Topic Ideas
Philosophical writing concerns questions that don't have clear-cut yes or no answers. So, coming up with philosophy essay topics yourself can be tough.
Fret not: we've put together this list of 30 topics for philosophy papers on ethics and leadership for you. Feel free to use them as-is or tweak them!
15 Ethics Philosophy Essay Topics
Ethics deals with the question of right and wrong. So, if you're looking for philosophy essay topic ideas, ethics concerns some of the most interesting – and most mind-boggling – questions about human behavior.
Here are 15 compelling philosophy essay topics ethics has to offer you:
- Is starting a war always morally wrong?
- Would it be right to legalize euthanasia?
- What is more important: the right to privacy or national security?
- Is justice always fair?
- Should nuclear weapons be banned?
- Should teenagers be allowed to get plastic surgery?
- Can cheating be justifiable?
- Can AI algorithms behave ethically?
- Should you abide by an unfair law?
- Should voting become mandatory?
- When can the right to freedom of speech be limited?
- Is it the consumers' responsibility to fight climate by changing their buying decisions?
- Is getting an abortion immoral?
- Should we give animals their own rights?
- Would human gene editing be immoral?
15 Leadership Philosophy Essay Topics
You're lucky if you're tasked with writing a leadership philosophy essay! We've compiled this list of 15 fresh, unconventional topics for you:
- Is formal leadership necessary for ensuring the team's productivity?
- Can authoritative leadership be ethical?
- How do informal leaders take on this role?
- Should there be affirmative action for formal leadership roles?
- Is it possible to measure leadership?
- What's the most important trait of a leader?
- Is leadership an innate talent or an acquired skill?
- Should leadership mean holding power over others?
- Can a team function without a leader?
- Should you follow a leader no matter what?
- Is leader succession necessary? Why?
- Are leadership and power the same?
- Can we consider influencers contemporary leaders?
- Why do people follow leaders?
- What leadership style is the most ethical one?
7 Helpful Tips on Crafting a Philosophical Essay
Still, feeling stuck writing a philosophical essay? Here are seven more tips on crafting a good philosophy paper that can help you get unstuck:
- Write the way you would talk about the subject. This will help you avoid overly convoluted, poor writing by using more straightforward prose with familiar words.
- Don't focus on having a definitive answer by the end of your philosophical essay if your conclusion states that the question should be clarified further or that there are multiple answers.
- You don't have to answer every question you raise in the paper. Even professional philosophers sometimes don't have all the answers.
- Get straight to the point at the start of your paper. No need to warm up the reader – and inflate your word count.
- Avoid using quotes. Instead, explain the author's point in your own words. But if you feel it's better to use a direct quote, explicitly state how it ties to your argument after it.
- Write in the first person unless your assignment requires you to use the third person.
- Start working on your philosophical essay well in advance. However much time you think you'll need, double it!
7 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Philosophy Writing
Sometimes, knowing what you shouldn't do in a philosophical essay is also helpful. Here are seven common mistakes that often bring down students' grades – but are easily avoidable:
- Appealing to authority – in philosophy, strive to develop your own stance instead;
- Using convoluted sentences to appear more intelligent – instead, use simpler ways to deliver the same meaning;
- Including interesting or important material without tying it to your point – every piece of evidence and every idea should explicitly support your arguments or counterarguments;
- Inflating your word count without delivering value – in the writing process, it's crucial to 'kill your darlings';
- Making poorly explained claims – explicitly present reasons for or against every claim you include;
- Leaving core concepts undefined – explain what you mean by the words like 'free will' or 'existentialism' in the introduction;
- Worrying about being wrong – no one can be proven wrong in philosophy!
Realize that your draft contains those mistakes, and it's too late to fix them? Then, let us help you out! Whether you ask us, 'Fix my paper' or 'Write my paper from scratch,' our philosophy writers will deliver an excellent paper worth the top grade. And no, it won't cost you a fortune!
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