Reading Effectively

It sounds odd to say that you don’t know how to read academic papers. You start at the beginning, keep reading until the end—right? But the problem of being unable to cope with academic reading is probably the most common complaint amongst students at all levels. The truth is that …

Logical Arguments

A good philosophy paper contains an argument: “a series of claims in which one of the claims (i.e., the conclusion) is said to follow from, or be supported by, one or more of the other claims (i.e., the premises)” (The Philosophy Skills Book). There are two kinds of arguments that …

Structure

“Poorly structured” and “unstructured” are very common criticisms in feedback on essays. But what does that mean, and how should you respond? There are two kinds of structure involved in your papers: The structure of the paper. The structure of your argument. The structure of the paper is the flow …

Constructing an Argument

Philosophers use a number of tools in constructing arguments. As a philosophy student, it is your task to identify these tools at work in philosophical arguments and analyse how well they have been used, as well as using them yourself. Amongst the tools with which you will need to become …

Criticising an Argument

It is crucial to understand the approaches to criticising philosophical positions which philosophers employ—both to use these tools to criticise others’ work, and to anticipate criticisms of your own work. Here, we’ll explore three common approaches to criticising philosophical positions—reductio ad absurdum, counterexamples, and dilemmas. For advice on criticising philosophical …

Fallacies

Try the writephilosophy Fallacies quiz to see how well you understand argumentative fallacies. A fallacy is a mistake or error in reasoning. Fallacies can be accidental errors, or can be deliberately crafted to be misleading. Many different types of fallacy have been described across many fields. Understanding these is useful …

Editing

It is easiest to edit your work if you understand the difference between three stages in your writing process: producing a zero draft, producing a first draft, and producing a final draft. After briefly outlining the difference, we will discuss how you can move almost effortlessly from a first draft …

Using Literature

How many sources should a philosophy paper use? How do you cite these works? How do you present other philosophers’ ideas and arguments in your paper? These are very common questions which students face. Let’s look at the ways you should and should not use literature in your essays.   …

Banned Words

You can improve your philosophical writing by removing certain words and phrases. Some phrases weaken your papers by introducing vagueness and ambiguity, by wasting words, or by acting as a crutch to prevent you saying what you really need to say. Here we’ve compiled a list of “banned” words and …