Writing Student Philosophy Papers

Here you can find help if you are taking a philosophy course and must write a philosophy paper for the first time.

On English Grammar and Punctuation

The University of Bristol (UK) has a very useful site that covers all the most common mechanical problems in student writing.  For example, it has a section devoted to the apostrophe.

On Writing Philosophy Papers

The following web pages contain excellent guidance on the distinctive features of philosophical writing from philosophers at other universities:

· Writing a Philosophy Paper by Peter Horban (Simon Fraser University)
· Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper by James Pryor (New York University)
· A Guide to Writing by Michael Huemer (University of Colorado at Boulder).

MU’s Philosophy Department also has a small library (433 Strickland) of booklets on writing philosophy papers aimed at undergraduate philosophy students.  You are welcome to consult them so long as you do not take them out of the building.  Some of the titles are:

Michael Harvey, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing.
Zachary Seech, Writing Philosophy Papers (5th edition).
Nigel Warburton, Philosophy: The Essential Study Guide.
A.P. Martinich, Philosophical Writing: An Introduction.
Hugo Bedau, Thinking and Writing about Philosophy.
Douglas Soccio, How to Get the Most Out of Philosophy.
Anne Edwards, Writing to Learn: An Introduction to Writing Philosophical Essays.

Of course, if your philosophy instructor gives you specific direction on writing a paper for his or her class, you would be wise to give it priority over anything you read elsewhere.

On Reliable Sources

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a superb source that meets the highest academic standards.  However, it is too difficult for most undergraduates and goes into much more detail than they need.

A more digestible source that is still on the whole very reliable is the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

If you want to search the literature in philosophy by topic or author or keyword, then standard resources are Philosophers' Index and PhilPapers, both accessible via Ellis Library.

Nearly all of the many philosophy journals that Ellis Library carries can be accessed in electronic form from its website.

Another great source for journal articles, though not those published within about the past five years, is the full-text database JSTOR, accessible from Ellis Library’s list of philosophy databases.

And, for books, don't forget that Ellis Library can also obtain books held by libraries across the state and nation.