I’m trying to learn for my Philosophy class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

1. What you are trying to accomplish: The virtues of a philosophy paper

A philosophy paper consists of a critical analysis of a thesis and in a reasoned defense of some claims. If you advance a claim, your claim should be supported by argument. If you attribute a view to someone, you should support your attribution with reference to the original text and interpretative remarks. When you make claims about a philosopher you have read, make sure that you support your interpretation with references to specific passages. When you take a specific formulation of a point from a text, use quotations.

The virtues of a philosophy paper are:

2. How to start

3. How to go on?

General remarks:

The Structure:

4. Make an outline

Essay: Analysis of a Scholarly Article

The following guideline is one you must follow precisely. It serves both as your guide to writing your analysis and as my guide to grading your analysis.

You will analyze one of the assigned essays.

The first thing you must do is read the article, ideally two to three distinct times. In each reading, you should use a different color pen to mark important aspects of the essay.

Because this is a philosophical analysis of a philosophic essay you should avoid the following:

Moreover, you should avoid any lengthy, direct quotations. You must quote the essay at least three distinct times, but these quotes should never be longer than two sentences. Be sure you cite the quote by using quotation marks and parenthesis to enclose the page number from which you have taken the quote.


Topic, example, explain conclusion

Your analysis must contain the following five sections:

Follow the order above for the format

You must provide a heading at the beginning of each section. That is, write, underline and make bold the heading: for example: Introduction.

The formatting criteria are listed on a separate page. Thus, your essay will be worth up to 60 points, 10 points per section.


Your Introduction should consist of 2 to 3 paragraphs: do 3

1. In the first and second paragraphs identify the article and describe the problem or topic the essay addresses.

2. In the third paragraph articulate what your own analysis will address and what it is you intend to accomplish. This replaces the standard thesis statement: you will inform your reader of what you intend to do and provide a map of your analysis.


This is the main body of your essay. It must do the following: summary of the essay not the case study

What’s the authors view (about 4 paragraphs)

Each paragraph should be a different point need 4 points

Whatever the format of the summary follow it in the critique, don’t go off the main points

1. You should begin by summarizing those aspects of the article that are relevant to your own critique. You should not attempt to summarize the entirety of the article; you are not simply writing a general review of the essay.

2. Your summary must represent the author’s views in the best possible way. You do not want to misrepresent the author’s views, or to represent them in such a way that you can then easily destroy them. Avoid the “straw man” fallacy. If you don’t know this fallacy look it up.

3. The summary of the author’s article must not include any critical comments.

4. The summary should not simply elaborate on the sequence of the author’s ideas. That is, you should not write a summary that simply does this: “The author begins by discussing . . . . Then she goes on to discuss . . . .” Your challenge is to present your summary in a way that draws the relevant parts of the author’s essay together in a way that prepares for your critical discussion of it. That is, your summary must be related to your thesis, or what I called your “map.”


Critique the essay not the case study only critique what you wrote in the summary

1. Your critique should be organized according to your summary. This means that your critique, like your summary, will reflect those parts of the article that you have selected, parts that develop and illuminate your thesis, or “map.”

2. Your critique might focus on ideas you embrace, ideas you reject, and/or ideas about which you are unsure. Remember: critique does not mean being negative. You might actually find that you agree with an author, and if that is the case, you want to reflect that in your critique.

3. One of your greatest challenges is to tease out the philosophic aspects of the article. This requires you to draw from your other readings: keep in mind the work of the philosophers you have studied. Note Well: this part of your “Critique” is the most important part of your “Critique.” You must “step back” and “tease out” the philosophic principles “in play” in the essay.

Case Study: Application

Intro, key details, possible solutions, my solution (4 paragraphs)

This is a critical aspect of your project. You have established above the key theoretical aspects of the article you are assessing; now, you need to draw those aspects into a concrete case. In this section you should fulfill the following criteria:

1. Articulate the key details of the case, including the main ethical problem of the case.

2. Explain the possible solutions to the case.

3. Assert and explain your solution to the case. Here you must philosophically justify your solution. The challenge here is to combine the philosophical justification you are employing with the relevant aspects the essay you have analyzed above.


In your conclusion, restate – although not verbatim – your thesis. Bring together the main themes of your essay and point to a broader application or assessment. The conclusion should be two to three paragraphs.

You should work carefully through the following check-list prior to submitting your essay:

I feel = I think

I believe = my judgement