Department of Philosophy

Resources for Students

Guide to Writing Philosophy:

Writing a good philosophy paper is difficult. The philosophy faculty at Fort Lewis work hard to make it less so. We want you to become better thinkers and becoming a better writer is an excellent first step in doing so. While you will be given explicit instructions in class regarding your particular assignment, this page provides standards for grades of A, C and F, and links to external web pages that provide instruction on reading/writing philosophy.

Grading Matrix:

The philosophy faculty at Fort Lewis look for similar features when assigning grades to philosophy papers. The following matrix displays common features of A, C, and F papers. For example, a paper that includes some A Paper features and some C Paper features will score in the B-range.

A Paper C Paper F Paper

Appropriate topic: philosophical, controversial, yet suitably narrow scope

Less-Appropriate topic: not philosophical, not controversial, or too wide a scope

Inappropriate topic: obviously not philosophical, not controversial, or too wide a scope

Clear Thesis

Unclear Thesis

No Thesis

Well Motivated

Poorly Motivated

Unmotivated

Well Structured

Poorly Structured

Unstructured

Clear Argument

Unclear Argument

No Argument

Original (to the author)

Significantly Unoriginal (e.g. re-phrasing of class notes)

Totally Unoriginal (e.g. verbatim class notes)

Persuasive

Less Persuasive

Unpersuasive

Proper Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation

Weak Spelling, Grammar or Punctuation

Poor Spelling, Grammar or Punctuation

Raises and Deals with Objections

Raises bad objections OR Raises good objections, but does not deal with them adequately

Ignores obvious objections

The paper provides a charitable, plausible and sufficiently-detailed interpretation of the view of another philosopher (if relevant).

The paper provides an interpretation of another philosopher that is in some respect uncharitable, implausible or insufficiently detailed (if relevant).

The paper provides an interpretation of another philosopher that is blatantly uncharitable, implausible or insufficiently detailed (if relevant).


External Guides on Writing or Reading Philosophy:


Undergraduate Journals in Philosophy:


Undergraduate Conferences for Philosophy:


Guide to Philosophy on the Internet:

It should come as no surprise that much of what's available on the internet is unreliable. The following links should help navigate the flood of available information.

Philosophy References:

Graduate School Information:

Professional Organizations and Periodicals: