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Writing Philosophy

A Student's Guide to Reading and Writing Philosophy Essays

Second Edition

Lewis Vaughn

Publication Date - 22 January 2018

ISBN: 9780190853013

192 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

An indispensable companion for learning to read and write philosophy


Writing Philosophy: A Student's Guide to Reading and Writing Philosophy Essays, Second Edition, is a concise, self-guided manual that covers how to read philosophy and the basics of argumentative essay writing. It encourages students to master fundamental skills quickly--with minimal instructor input--and provides step-by-step instructions for each phase of the writing process, from formulating a thesis, to creating an outline, to writing a final draft, supplementing this tutorial approach with model essays, outlines, introductions, and conclusions.

Writing Philosophy is just $5 when packaged with any Oxford University Press Philosophy text. Contact your Oxford representative for details and package ISBNs.

New to this Edition

  • A revised, annotated student paper that includes notes and works-cited pages
  • A detailed appendix on how to do research for a philosophy paper, including a list of online sources
  • Exercise sets for Chapters 7 and 8 (with answers in the back of the book)
  • A new rule in Chapter 8 on commonly misspelled words, with an accompanying list
  • Updated CMS and MLA guidelines for source citations and documentation, with extensive examples
  • Realistic advice on how to schedule time to write and research


  • Provides step-by-step instructions on how to read and write argumentative essays
  • Offers a quick-start approach with rapid progression to writing philosophy papers
  • Organized in a rulebook format that encapsulates the core principles of good writing
  • Includes an introductory chapter on how to read philosophy
  • Chapter 2 covers recognizing, reading, and evaluating arguments

About the Author(s)

Lewis Vaughn is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Concise Guide to Critical Thinking (OUP, 2017), Living Philosophy, Second Edition (OUP, 2017), The Moral Life, Sixth Edition (OUP, 2017), and Bioethics, Third Edition (OUP, 2016).


"Vaughn's writing is exceptionally clear and perfectly crafted for an undergraduate student audience. I find Writing Philosophy to be an indispensable companion for all of my courses. It provides philosophy professors with an easy yet rigorous way to teach writing without taking away from the course curriculum."--Jennifer McWeeny, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

"I really like that Writing Philosophy is set up for students to read and study on their own."--Heidi Malm, Loyola University Chicago

Table of Contents

    *=New to this Edition
    1. How to Read Philosophy
    What Is Philosophy?
    Reading Philosophy
    Rule 1-1. Approach the Text with an Open Mind
    Rule 1-2. Read Actively and Critically
    Rule 1-3. Identify the Conclusion First, Then the Premises
    Rule 1-4. Outline, Paraphrase, or Summarize the Argument
    Rule 1-5. Evaluate the Argument and Formulate a Tentative Judgment
    Writing a Paraphrase or Summary
    Applying the Rules
    2. How to Read an Argument
    Premises and Conclusions
    Judging Arguments
    Rule 2-1. Know the Basics of Deductive and Inductive Arguments
    Rule 2-2. Determine Whether the Conclusion Follows from the Premises
    Rule 2-3. Determine Whether the Premises are True
    Applying the Rules
    3. Rules of Style and Content for Philosophical Writing
    Rule 3-1. Write to Your Audience
    Rule 3-2. Avoid Pretentiousness
    Rule 3-3. Keep the Authority of Philosophers in Perspective
    Rule 3-4. Do Not Overstate Premises or Conclusions
    Rule 3-5. Treat Opponents and Opposing Views Fairly
    Rule 3-6. Write Clearly
    Rule 3-7. Avoid Inappropriate Emotional Appeals
    Rule 3-8. Be Careful What You Assume
    Rule 3-9. Write in First Person
    Rule 3-10. Avoid Discriminatory Language
    4. Defending a Thesis in an Argumentative Essay
    Basic Essay Structure
    Argument Supporting the Thesis
    Assessment of Objections
    Well-Built Essay
    Writing the Essay: Step by Step
    Step 1. Select a Topic and Narrow It to a Specific Issue
    Step 2. Research the Issue
    Step 3. Write a Thesis Statement
    Step 4. Create an Outline of the Whole Essay
    Step 5. Write a First Draft
    Step 6. Study and Revise Your First Draft
    Step 7. Produce a Final Draft
    An Annotated Sample Paper
    5. Avoiding Fallacious Reasoning
    Straw Man
    Appeal to the Person
    Appeal to Popularity
    Appeal to Tradition
    Genetic Fallacy
    Appeal to Ignorance
    False Dilemma
    Begging the Question
    Hasty Generalization
    Slippery Slope
    6. Using, Quoting, and Citing Sources
    Rule 6-1. Know When and How to Quote Sources
    Rule 6-2. Do Not Plagiarize
    Rule 6-3. Cite Your Sources Carefully
    Rule 6-4. Build a Bibliography if Needed
    7. Writing Effective Sentences
    Rule 7-1. Make the Subject and Verb Agree in Number and Person
    Rule 7-2. Express Parallel Ideas in Parallel Form
    Rule 7-3. Write in Complete Sentences, Not Fragments
    Rule 7-4. Connect Independent Clauses Properly
    Rule 7-5. Delete the Deadwood
    Rule 7-6. Put Modifiers in Their Place
    Rule 7-7. Be Consistent in Tense, Voice, Number, and Person
    Rule 7-8. Communicate Pronoun References Clearly
    Exercises: Writing Effective Sentences
    8. Choosing the Right Words
    Rule 8-1. Select Nouns and Verbs Precisely
    Rule 8-2. Prefer the Active Voice
    Rule 8-3. Use Specific Terms
    Rule 8-4. Avoid Redundancy
    Rule 8-5. Be Aware of the Connotations of Words
    Rule 8-6. Learn to Distinguish Words That Writers Frequently Mix Up
    Rule 8-7. Strive for Freshness; Avoid Clichés
    Rule 8-8. Do Not Mix Metaphors
    Rule 8-9. Beware of Awkward Repetition
    * Rule 8-10. Spell Correctly
    Exercises: Choosing the Right Words
    Appendix A. Formatting Your Paper
    Appendix B. Documenting Your Sources
    * Appendix C. Answers to Exercises
    * Appendix D. Researching a Philosophy Paper

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