Philosophy Essays Online



Compiled by David Chalmers

This page is no longer updated. Its function has been taken over by the list of personal pages tracked at PhilPapers.

This is a list of individuals who have made available online papers in philosophy and related areas. This practice is very much to be encouraged! Note that this list concentrates mostly on academic philosophers, although some scientists and others in related fields are included. Thanks to Ming Tan of Melbourne University for his regular help in updating this directory.

Index: Consciousness | Perception | Content | Mind | AI | CogSci | Action/Will | Language | Linguistics | Truth | Modality | Causation/Laws | Time | Objects/Identity | Metaphysics | Knowledge/Skepticism | Justification | Formal Epistemology | Social Epistemology | Epistemology | Physics | Biology | Science | Decision | Logic | Math | Religion | Meta-Ethics | Normative Ethics | Social/Political | Economics | Law | Gender/Race | Applied Ethics | Aesthetics | Ancient | Asian | Medieval | 17th/18th British | 17th/18th European | Kant | 19th/20th Analytic | 19th/20th Continental | Cognitive Scientists | Others

Philosophy of consciousness

  • Torin Alter (qualia, free will, etc)
  • Istvan Aranyosi (consciousness, metaphysics, etc)
  • Michael Antony (consciousness, etc)
  • Andrew Bailey (qualia, physicalism, etc)
  • Tim Bayne (consciousness, applied ethics, etc)
  • Stephen Biggs (representationalism, mindreading, modality)
  • Ned Block (consciousness, reduction, content, etc)
  • Richard Brown (consciousness, higher-order thought, meta-ethics)
  • Alex Byrne (consciousness, color, M&E)
  • Peter Carruthers (consciousness, language)
  • David Chalmers (consciousness, content, M&E, cognitive science)
  • David Cole (consciousness, language)
  • Barry Dainton (consciousness, time, unity, personal identity)
  • Daniel Dennett (consciousness, evolution, etc.)
  • Esa Diaz-Leon (phenomenal concepts)
  • Shaun Gallagher (phenomenology, self-consciousness)
  • Rocco Gennaro (higher-order thought theories)
  • Brie Gertler (consciousness, introspection, metaphysics)
  • Philip Goff (panpsychism, properties)
  • Christopher Hill (consciousness, thought, etc)
  • Jakob Hohwy (consciousness, neuroscience, content, delusions)
  • Robert Howell (consciousness, physicalism, self-knowledge, epistemology, religion)
  • Uriah Kriegel (consciousness, self-consciousness, content, etc)
  • Janet Levin (phenomenal concepts, intuitions, knowledge)
  • Joseph Levine (consciousness, intentionality)
  • Dan Lloyd (consciousness, connectionism, brain imaging, etc)
  • Peter Lloyd (consciousness, idealism)
  • Eric Lormand (consciousness, meaning, cognitive architecture)
  • Pascal Ludwig (phenomenal concepts, conceivability, reference)
  • William Lycan (consciousness, M&E, etc)
  • Neil Manson (consciousness, applied ethics, etc)
  • Thomas Metzinger (consciousness)
  • Yujin Nagasawa (consciousness, self-knowledge, philosophy of religion, applied ethics)
  • Martine Nida-Rümelin (qualia, physicalism, color, etc)
  • Gerard O'Brien (consciousness, connectionism)
  • John O'Dea (qualia, sensory concepts)
  • Jon Opie (consciousness, connectionism)
  • David Papineau (consciousness, epistemology, philosophy of science)
  • Tom Polger (consciousness, evolution)
  • Diana Raffman (consciousness, vagueness, music)
  • William Robinson (consciousness, qualia)
  • Gregg Rosenberg (consciousness)
  • David Rosenthal (consciousness, intentionality, etc.)
  • William Seager (consciousness, metaphysics)
  • John Searle (consciousness, AI, phenomenology; and here)
  • Sydney Shoemaker (consciousness, color, qualia, introspection)
  • Warren Shrader (unity of consciousness, physicalism, epistemology, etc)
  • Joel Smith (self-consciousness, phenomenology)
  • Declan Smithies (consciousness, attention, epistemology)
  • Daniel Stoljar (consciousness, physicalism, etc)
  • Galen Strawson (consciousness, the self, free will, etc)
  • Pär Sundström (consciousness)
  • Evan Thompson (phenomenology, vision, neuroscience, etc)
  • Nick Treanor (ontology of consciousness)
  • Michael Tye (consciousness, qualia, content)
  • Robert Van Gulick (consciousness)
  • Sebastian Watzl (attention, consciousness)
  • Josh Weisberg (consciousness, higher-order thought)
  • Kenneth Williford (self-consciousness, transparency, history)
  • Dan Zahavi (phenomenology, self-consciousness, etc)

Philosophy of perception

  • Keith Allen (color, Locke)
  • David Bain (pain, private language)
  • David Bennett (spatial perception)
  • Wylie Breckenridge (vision, meaning, etc)
  • Bill Brewer (perception, reason, content, etc)
  • Robert Eamon Briscoe (perception, action, communication)
  • Justin Broackes (color, substance)
  • Nicolas Bullot (sound, objects, attention, etc)
  • John Campbell (perception, imagination)
  • Philippe Chuard (nonconceptual content, epistemology)
  • Austen Clark (color, consciousness, vision)
  • Paul Coates (causal theory of perception, intentionality)
  • Jonathan Cohen (color, philosophy of language)
  • Tim Crane (perception, consciousness, intentionality, metaphysics of mind)
  • Jérôme Dokic (perception, thought)
  • Santiago Echeverri (perceptual epistemology)
  • Naomi Eilan (color, attention, self, etc)
  • Jonathan Ellis (color, consciousness, externalism, etc)
  • Andy Egan (perceptual content, properties, language, ethics, etc)
  • William Fish (disjunctivism, emotions, etc)
  • Dimitria Gatzia (color, ethics, fiction)
  • James Genone (direction perception, representationalism, concepts)
  • Gary Hatfield (perception, history of psychology)
  • Benj Hellie (perception, disjunctivism, consciousness, action)
  • Ryan Hickerson (direct realism, phenomenology)
  • David Hilbert (color, philosophy of perception)
  • Susan Hurley (perception, consciousness, political philosophy)
  • Sean Kelly (perceptual experience, action)
  • Matthew Kennedy (naive realism, transparency, etc)
  • Amy Kind (qualia, imagination, identity, etc))
  • John Kulvicki (perceptual content, images, artifacts, etc)
  • Steven Lehar (perception, gestalt theory, consciousness)
  • Jack Lyons (perceptual justification, analyticity, mental causation)
  • David Macarthur (perception, skepticism, naturalism)
  • Fiona Macpherson (perceptual content)
  • Helge Malmgren (perception, consciousness, psychology)
  • Mike Martin (perceptual experience, disjunctivism, etc)
  • Farid Masrour (perceptual content, phenomenal intentionality)
  • Mohan Matthen (visual and auditory perception, philosophy of biology)
  • Vivian Mizrahi (color)
  • Erik Myin (visual experience, action, phenomenology)
  • Bence Nanay (perception, evolution, psychology)
  • Alva Noë (perception, consciousness)
  • Matthew Nudds (auditory perception, the senses, etc)
  • Casey O'Callaghan (sounds, etc)
  • Kevin O'Regan (perception, qualia, change blindness)
  • Elisabeth Pacherie (perception, action, intentionality)
  • Adam Pautz (sensory awareness, color, properties)
  • Ian Phillips (perceptual content, modality)
  • Peter Ross (color, qualia, meta-ethics)
  • Eric Rubenstein (experience, individuation, universals)
  • Susanna Schellenberg (perception, concepts)
  • Elizabeth Schier (color experience, knowledge argument)
  • Susanna Siegel (perception, demonstratives)
  • Paul Snowdon (sense-data, metaphilosophy)
  • Matthew Soteriou (perception, consciousness, mental action)
  • Nigel Thomas (imagery, imagination, consciousness)
  • Brad Thompson (phenomenal content, spatial experience)
  • Edmond Wright (perception, epistemology)
  • Wayne Wright (color, perception, Kant)

Philosophy of content

  • Fred Adams (mental content, names)
  • Peter Alward (content, language, metaphysics)
  • Murat Aydede (content, pain, consciousness, etc)
  • Lynne Rudder Baker (propositional attitudes, persons, religion, etc)
  • Dave Beisecker (intentionality, animals, self-knowledge, etc)
  • José Luis Bermúdez (content, self-consciousness, rationality, etc)
  • Jason Bridges (theories of content, externalism, contextualism)
  • Ingar Brinck (attention, interpretation, consciousness)
  • Curtis Brown (belief, narrow content, etc)
  • Harold Brown (concepts, Sellars)
  • Tyler Burge (content, perception, epistemology)
  • Stephen Butterfill (representation, communication, theory of mind)
  • Darragh Byrne (concepts, content, consciousness)
  • Jake Chandler (teleosemantics, functions, etc)
  • Adrian Cussins (content, objectivity)
  • Kevan Edwards (concepts, reference, etc)
  • Pascal Engel (intentionality, normativity)
  • Katalin Farkas (externalism, content, perception, etc)
  • Jordi Fernandez (self-knowledge, computation)
  • Jerry Fodor (concepts, language, meaning)
  • Keith Frankish (belief, language)
  • Peter Gärdenfors (concepts, belief revision, festschrift, etc.)
  • Maximilian de Gaynesford (self-reference, self-knowledge, thought, etc)
  • John Gibbons (externalism, qualia, reasons)
  • Kathrin Glüer-Pagin (normativity, meaning, perception, etc)
  • Sanford Goldberg (externalism, self-knowledge, testimony)
  • Mark Greenberg (conceptual role semantics, legal philosophy)
  • York Gunther (nonconceptual content, emotions)
  • Jussi Haukioja (rule-following, meaning, rigidity)
  • Pierre Jacob (intentionality)
  • Andreas Kemmerling (intentionality, meaning, etc)
  • Brendan Lalor (mental content, metaphysics of mind)
  • William Larkin (externalism, introspection)
  • Joe Lau (content, semantics)
  • Stephen Laurence (concepts, content, language)
  • Edouard Machery (concepts, semantics, culture, etc)
  • Eric Margolis (concepts, analysis)
  • Mark McCullagh (inferentialism, self-knowledge, rules, functionalism)
  • Michael McKinsey (externalism, self-knowledge, belief, qualia, etc)
  • Ruth Millikan (philosophy of mind and language, philosophy of biology)
  • David Pitt (content, language, consciousness)
  • Simon Prosser (indexicals, time, consciousness)
  • Joëlle Proust (intentionality, action)
  • Bradley Rives (concepts, properties, laws)
  • Philip Robbins (mental content, language)
  • Robert Rupert (theories of content, functionalism, extended mind, etc)
  • Susan Schneider (mental content, language of thought, metaphysics)
  • Tim Schroeder (concepts, consciousness, moral psychology, etc)
  • Laura Schroeter (two-dimensionalism, conceptual analysis, externalism, metaethics)
  • Gabriel Segal (externalism, content, meaning)
  • Nicholas Shea (teleosemantics, representation, externalism)
  • Paul Skokowski (content, consciousness)
  • Jeff Speaks (content, belief, language)
  • David Thompson (intentionality, phenomenology, metaphysics)
  • Josefa Toribio (externalism, normativity, etc)
  • John Williams (Moore's paradox, belief, religion, etc)

Philosophy of mind (miscellaneous)

  • Magdalena Balcerak Jackson (conceptual analysis, philosophical methodology, intentionalism)
  • Ansgar Beckermann (metaphysics of mind)
  • John Beloff (mind-body problem, parapsychology)
  • Hanoch Ben-Yami (functionalism, propositional attitudes, semantics, etc)
  • Henk bij de Weg (reasons, consciousness)
  • David Braddon-Mitchell (philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics)
  • Andrew Brook (Kant, cognitive science, psychoanalysis)
  • Filip Buekens (philosophy of mind, indexicality)
  • Neil Campbell (anomalous monism, supervenience)
  • Glenn Carruthers (embodiment, agency, self)
  • Craig DeLancey (emotion, consciousness)
  • Ronnie de Sousa (moral psychology, philosophy of mind & biology)
  • Janice Dowell (naturalism, reduction, philosophy of mind)
  • Ron Endicott (reduction, multiple realizability)
  • Michael Esfeld (holism, externalism, mental causation, philosophy of physics)
  • Eric Funkhouser (metaphysics of mind, will, properties)
  • Carl Gillett (emergence, reduction)
  • Peter Goldie (emotions, aesthetics, etc)
  • Irwin Goldstein (pleasure, pain, ethics)
  • Christoph Hoerl (memory, time, schizophrenia)
  • Jim Hopkins (psychoanalysis, consciousness, interpretation)
  • Terry Horgan (philosophy of mind, metaphysics, vagueness, paradoxes, etc)
  • Steven Horst (metaphysics of mind, consciousness, computationalism)
  • David Hunter (belief, understanding, modality, etc)
  • Daniel Hutto (consciousness, idealism)
  • Frank Jackson (physicalism, content, descriptivism, etc; also here)
  • Jesper Kallestrup (physicalism, consciousness, mental causation, belief)
  • Michael Lacewing (emotions, ethics)
  • Noa Latham (metaphysics of mind, reasons, determinism)
  • Barry Loewer (philosophy of mind, philosophy of physics)
  • Douglas Long (philosophy of mind, epistemology)
  • Kirk Ludwig (philosophy of mind, epistemology)
  • Cynthia MacDonald (mental causation, self-knowledge, etc)
  • Eric Marcus (metaphysics of mind, consciousness)
  • Ron McClamrock (philosophy of mind))
  • Roblin Meeks (self-awareness, etc)
  • Barbara Montero (metaphysics of mind, ethics)
  • Richard Moran (self-knowledge, metaphor, testimony, etc)
  • Thomas Nagel (philosophy of mind, ethics)
  • Anne Newstead (perception, action, mathematics)
  • Paul Noordhof (externalism, pain, causation, etc)
  • Derk Pereboom (philosophy of mind, Kant, metaphysics)
  • Hanna Pickard (philosophy of psychiatry, self-knowledge, other minds)
  • David Pineda (physicalism, mental causation, etc)
  • Georges Rey (philosophy of mind and language)
  • Teed Rockwell (philosophy of mind)
  • Johannes Roessler (attention, delusions)
  • Larry Shapiro (multiple realizability)
  • Gianfranco Soldati (phenomenology, subjectivity, content, etc)
  • David Sosa (perception, desire, dispositions, free will, etc)
  • Galen Strawson (self, consciousness, free will, Hume, reviews)
  • Karsten Stueber (self-knowledge, mental causation, first-person perspective, etc)
  • Julia Tanney (reasons, self-knowledge, etc)
  • Christine Tappolet (emotions)
  • David Yates (mental causation, emergence, response-dependence)
  • Aaron Zimmerman (moral psychology, self-knowledge, epistemology, Hume)

Philosophy of artificial intelligence

  • Michael Anderson (embodiment, representation, artificial agents, etc)
  • Xavier Barandiaran (autonomous agents, dynamic systems, artificial life)
  • Tony Beavers (AI, Internet, Levinas, etc)
  • Istvan Berkeley (connectionism, foundations of cognitive science)
  • Selmer Bringsjord (philosophy of AI, etc.)
  • Rodney Brooks (robotics) 
  • Ron Chrisley (connectionism, computation, non-conceptual content)
  • Jack Copeland (computation, AI, logic)
  • Peter Danielson (artificial morality, rationality)
  • Eric Dietrich (computation, representation, analogy, consciousness, etc)
  • Hubert Dreyfus (philosophy of AI and technology, Heidegger, etc)
  • Stan Franklin (computational models of consciousness)
  • Robert French (connectionism, representation, Turing test)
  • Stevan Harnad (symbol grounding, Turing test, consciousness, etc)
  • Larry Hauser (AI, consciousness, philosophy comics, etc.)
  • David Israel (foundations of AI, semantics)
  • Ray Kurzweil (AI, technology, singularity)
  • Jaron Lanier (virtual reality, philosophy of AI)
  • Shane Legg (machine intelligence, machine learning)
  • Ron Loui (reasoning, foundations of AI)
  • J. R. Lucas (mechanism, Gödel and AI, time, etc.)
  • John McCarthy (foundations of AI)
  • Marvin Minsky (foundations of AI)
  • Hans Moravec (AI & robotics)
  • Gregory Mulhauser (robots, consciousness)
  • Steve Omohundro (self-improving AI, AI drives, etc)
  • Jordan Pollack (connectionism, dynamic systems)
  • William Rapaport (foundations of AI, ontology, Meinong)
  • Aaron Sloman (foundations of AI)
  • Mark Sprevak (philosophy of AI, meaning)
  • Ron Sun (connectionism, symbols, consciousness)
  • Vernor Vinge (singularity)
  • Jonathan Waskan (connectionism, models, frame problem)
  • Eliezer Yudkowsky (AI, technology, singularity)

Philosophy of cognitive science

  • Ken Aizawa (extended cognition, memory, etc)
  • Colin Allen (animal cognition, evolution, etc.)
  • Kristin Andrews (theory of mind, psychological explanation)
  • William Bechtel (represention, connectionism, neuroscience, etc)
  • Mark Bickhard (representation, computation, etc.)
  • Radu Bogdan (theory of mind, intentionality, etc)
  • Lisa Bortolotti (rationality, delusions, bioethics)
  • George Botterill (cognitive architecture, folk psychology, history, etc)
  • Stephen Braude (parapsychology, psychopathology, etc)
  • Michael Bruno (extended mind, consciousness, experimental philosophy, Locke)
  • David Buller (evolutionary psychology, AI, metaphysics)
  • Tony Chemero (affordances, dynamics, representation, etc)
  • Christopher Cherniak (foundations of neuroscience)
  • Wayne Christensen (control, volition, neuroscience)
  • Patricia Churchland (neuroscience, philosophy of mind)
  • Andy Clark (cognitive science, AI, embodiment, representation, etc)
  • Giovanna Colombetti (emotion, embodiment)
  • Rachel Cooper (mental disorders, philosophy of science)
  • Carl Craver (philosophy of neuroscience, mechanisms, etc)
  • Robert Cummins (representation, evolution, etc)
  • David Danks (learning, philosophy of science)
  • Martin Davies (philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of mind and language, epistemology)
  • Zoe Drayson (embodied and extended cognition)
  • Chris Eliasmith (dynamic systems, philosophy of science)
  • Justin Fisher (externalism, simulation theory, decision theory)
  • Jay Garfield (theory of mind, pain, Buddhism, etc)
  • Philip Gerrans (delusions, theory of mind, etc)
  • Robert Gordon (folk psychology, simulation)
  • John Greenwood (philosophy of cognitive and social science)
  • Rick Grush (foundations of cognitive science, perceptual content)
  • Andy Hamilton (delusions, proprioception, Carnap)
  • Benoit Hardy-Vallée (embodiment, rationality, concepts)
  • David Johnson (belief, ancient philosophy)
  • Brian Keeley (philosophy of neurobiology, artificial life)
  • Muhammad Ali Khalidi (nativism, natural kinds, democracy)
  • Heidi Maibom (folk psychology, morality)
  • Ron Mallon (culture, evolution, reference)
  • Pete Mandik (neuroscience, consciousness, representation, objectivity)
  • Robert McCauley (reduction, religion)
  • Christopher Mole (attention, perception)
  • Shaun Nichols (theory of mind, moral psychology, imagination, etc)
  • Rita Nolan (concepts, language learning)
  • Mitch Parsell (cognitive science, philosophy of technology)
  • Gualtiero Piccinini (computationalism, introspection)
  • Pierre Poirier (categorization, representation, evolution, etc)
  • Jesse Prinz (concepts, emotion, consciousness, ethics, etc)
  • Adina Roskies (neuroscience, ethics)
  • Mark Rowlands (extended mind, consciousness, animals)
  • Dan Ryder (representation, neuroscience, dispositions)
  • Richard Samuels (modularity, rationality, nativism)
  • Maurice Schouten (reductionism, neuroscience, etc)
  • Eric Schwitzgebel (theory of mind, belief, consciousness)
  • Peter Slezak (imagery, AI, Descartes, etc)
  • Shannon Spaulding (embodied cognition, imagination)
  • Kim Sterelny (evolution of cognition, modularity, etc)
  • Stephen Stich (theory of mind, rationality, normativity, etc)
  • John Sutton (memory)
  • Tim Thornton (psychopathology, Wittgenstein)
  • Tim van Gelder (dynamic systems, connectionism, reasoning)
  • Markus Werning (binding, compositionality, neuroscience, etc)
  • Daniel Weiskopf (concepts, dynamics, folk psychology, etc)
  • Michael Wheeler (embodiment, evolution)
  • Robert Wilson (externalism, situated cognition, cognitive science, philosophy of biology)
  • Cory Wright (reduction, neuroscience, truth)

Philosophy of action and will

  • Robert Allen (free will, ontology, qualia)
  • Chrisoula Andreou (practical reason, environmental ethics)
  • Michael Bratman (philosophy of action)
  • Sara Rachel Chant (collective action)
  • Daniel Cohen (moral responsibility, free will)
  • Mario De Caro (free will, naturalism)
  • Dylan Dodd (weakness of will, knowledge)
  • Zachary Ernst (collective action, intuitions, genetics)
  • Andrew Eshleman (responsibility, free will, atheism)
  • Luca Ferrero (diachronic agency, action, moral psychology, etc)
  • John Martin Fischer (free will, responsibility)
  • David Hodgson (free will, responsibility, consciousness)
  • Richard Holton (will, moral psychology, philosophy of language, ethics)
  • Ted Honderich (free will, consciousness, ethics)
  • Jennifer Hornsby (agency, feminism, truth, etc)
  • Tomis Kapitan (free will, philosophy of language and mind, indexicality)
  • Matt King (responsibility, compatibilism, etc)
  • Joshua Knobe (intentional action, psychological explanation)
  • Chris Lindsay (agency, self-consciousness, Reid)
  • Daniel Laurier (rationality, normativity)
  • Neil Levy (responsibility, free will, ethics, etc)
  • John Maier (agency, dispositions, freedom, etc)
  • Elijah Millgram (practical reasoning, Hume)
  • Thomas Nadelhoffer (intentional action, free will)
  • Eddy Nahmias (free will, consciousness, experimental philosophy)
  • Dana Nelkin (free will, moral psychology)
  • Lucy O'Brien (agency, self-knowledge, etc)
  • Tim O'Connor (free will, philosophy of religion)
  • Katarzyna Paprzycka (action, responsibility, etc)
  • Gordon Pettit (free will, philosophy of religion)
  • Bill Pollard (actions, habit, rationality)
  • Abraham Roth (agency, intersubjectivity)
  • Paul Russell (free will, Hume)
  • Constantine Sandis (action, explanation, Hume, etc)
  • Markus Schlosser (agent causation, causal theory of action)
  • Scott Sehon (teleology, freedom, medicine)
  • Kieran Setiya (practical reason, ethics)
  • Neil Sinhababu (practical reason, hedonism, modality)
  • Saul Smilansky (free will, ethics, moral paradoxes)
  • Tamler Sommers (free will, ethics, Darwinism, etc)
  • Helen Steward (free will, responsibility)
  • Rowland Stout (action, causation, behaviour, ethics, etc)
  • Jan Thomas (action, morality)
  • Kevin Timpe (incompatibilism, alternative possibilities, religion)
  • Raimo Tuomela (collective action, collective intentionality)
  • Jason Turner (free will, modality)
  • Manuel Vargas (responsibility, free will, Latin American philosophy)
  • David Velleman (practical reason, will, self) 
  • Andrea Westlund (autonomy, shared reasons, moral psychology)
  • V. Alan White (free will, twin paradox, philosophy songs)
  • Daniel Wegner (psychology of will, control, etc)
  • Kevin Zaragoza (will, blame, modality)

Philosophy of language

  • Barbara Abbott (descriptions, etc)
  • Jay David Atlas (philosophy of language & mind)
  • Kent Bach (philosophy of language & mind)
  • Brendan Balcerak Jackson (logical form, fictionalism, understanding)
  • Luiz Carlos Baptista (communication, semantics/pragmatics)
  • Dorit Bar-On (meaning, truth, self-knowledge, etc)
  • Alex Barber (descriptions, substitutivity)
  • Arvid Båve (Millianism, deflationism)
  • Daniel Bonevac (conditionals, epistemology, etc)
  • Emma Borg (semantics)
  • Robert Brandom (philosophy of language and logic, pragmatism, Hegel)
  • David Braun (philosophy of language, belief, causation)
  • Berit Brogaard (philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, etc)
  • Elisabeth Camp (metaphor, etc)
  • Ben Caplan (names, ontology, art, etc)
  • Herman Cappelen (context, quotation, etc)
  • Eros Corazza (indexicals, contextualism, etc)
  • Josh Dever (compositionality, conditionals, vagueness, etc)
  • Michael Devitt (philosophy of language, M&E)
  • Imogen Dickie (reference, acquaintance, perception, meaning)
  • Mitchell Green (philosophy of language, etc.)
  • Steven Gross (context, semantic competence, vagueness, etc)
  • Peter Hanks (meaning, content, propositions)
  • Christopher Hom (racial epithets, pejoratives)
  • John Humphrey (Kripke's Wittgenstein)
  • Henry Jackman (philosophy of language and mind, William James)
  • Robin Jeshion (names, singular thought, apriority, Frege, etc)
  • Jeffrey King (philosophy of language)
  • Kepa Korta (pragmatics, context, etc)
  • Manfred Kupffer (demonstratives, apriority)
  • Mark Lance (philosophy of language, ethics, logic, etc)
  • Ernest Lepore (philosophy of language and mind)
  • Guy Longworth (linguistic understanding)
  • Dan López de Sa (response-dependence, rigidity, realism)
  • Peter Ludlow (semantics, externalism, linguistics)
  • Ofra Magidor (category mistakes, vagueness, assertion, etc)
  • Diego Marconi (semantics, Wittgenstein)
  • Genoveva Marti (reference, meaning, modality)
  • Thomas McKay (plurals, predication)
  • Adele Mercier (language, externalism, gender)
  • Marc Moffett (propositions, semantics, etc)
  • Axel Mueller (externalism, natural kinds, Kant, etc)
  • Stephen Neale (philosophy of language)
  • Pavel Materna (semantics, intensional logic)
  • Michael McGlone (semantic content, translation)
  • Bernhard Nickel (generics, semantics, explanation, perception)
  • Michael O'Rourke (semantics, reference, mental content, etc)
  • Gary Ostertag (descriptions, etc)
  • Peter Pagin (meaning, modality, compositionality, etc)
  • Michael Pelczar (philosophy of language, metaphysics)
  • Carlo Penco (philosophy of language, AI)
  • Jaroslav Peregrin (philosophy of language and logic)
  • John Perry (philosophy of language & mind)
  • Angel Pinillos (reference, names, etc)
  • Stefano Predelli (semantics, aesthetics)
  • Murali Ramachandran (rigidity, descriptions, causation, etc)
  • Francois Recanati (philosophy of language)
  • Michael Rescorla (assertion, representation, computation)
  • Karen Riley (negative existentials, identity)
  • Gillian Russell (analyticity, inference)
  • Mark Sainsbury (reference, philosophy of language, Hume)
  • Jennifer Saul (philosophy of language, feminism)
  • Stephen Schiffer (descriptions, skepticism)
  • Barry Smith (knowledge of language, meaning, etc)
  • Scott Soames (philosophy of language, history)
  • Cara Spencer (philosophy of language, belief)
  • Robert Stainton (philosophy of language, semantics)
  • Jason Stanley (philosophy of language, contextualism)
  • Isidora Stojanovic (indexicals, semantics)
  • Arthur Sullivan (reference, individualism)
  • Eric Swanson (context, demonstratives, etc)
  • Zoltan Szabo (semantics, metaphysics)
  • Ken Taylor (names, belief, intentionality)
  • Charles Travis (meaning, knowledge)
  • Alberto Voltolini (fiction, intentional objects, meaning, etc)
  • Lee Walters (conditionals, essence)
  • Howard Wettstein (philosophy of language, philosophy of religion)
  • Daniel Whiting (meaning, normativity)
  • Asa Wikforss (meaning, analyticity, normativity, externalism, etc)
  • Michael Wolf (reference, contextualism, pragmatics)
  • Seth Yalcin (epistemic modals, relativism)

Philosophy of linguistics

  • Luis Alonso-Ovalle (semantics, disjunction, indefinites)
  • Louise Antony (linguistics and psychology, philosophy of religion)
  • Nicholas Asher (formal semantics)
  • Adrian Brasoveanu (propositions, modality, etc)
  • Robyn Carston (pragmatics, semantics)
  • Noam Chomsky (linguistics)
  • John Collins (modularity, syntax, nativism, truth)
  • Stephen Crain (acquisition, innateness, etc)
  • Sam Cumming (proper nouns, discourse)
  • Kai von Fintel (semantics, modality)
  • Graeme Forbes (belief semantics, metaphysics)
  • Richard Horsey (linguistics, concepts, etc)
  • Kent Johnson (philosophy of linguistics)
  • Angelika Kratzer (semantics)
  • Shalom Lappin (semantics, intensional logic, language processing)
  • Emar Maier (attitude reports, quotation, etc)
  • Robert May (semantics, Frege)
  • Friederike Moltmann (semantics, metaphysics)
  • Reinhard Muskens (semantics, logic of ordinary language)
  • David Nicolas (mass nouns, events, etc)
  • Anna Papafragou (modality, pragmatics, theory of mind, etc)
  • Terence Parsons (semantics, metaphysics, medieval philosophy)
  • Barbara Partee (semantics)
  • Jeff Pelletier (semantics, logic)
  • Paul Pietrowski (semantics, innateness)
  • Steven Pinker (linguistics, cognitive science, evolution)
  • Paul Postal (linguistics)
  • Daniel Rothschild (conditionals, descriptions, dynamic semantics)
  • Philippe Schlenker (indexicals, descriptions)
  • Mandy Simons (presupposition, disjunction)
  • Dan Sperber (language, cognition, culture)
  • Arnim von Stechow (propositions, tense, attitudes, etc)
  • Richmond Thomason (semantics, logic, reasoning)
  • Frank Veltman (update semantics, modality, etc)
  • Nellie Wieland (linguistics, context, feminism)

Philosophy of truth (including vagueness)

  • Jamin Asay (truthmakers, realism, philosophy of science)
  • Elizabeth Barnes (vagueness)
  • David Barnett (vagueness, ontology, modality, conditionals, etc)
  • J. C. Beall (truth, philosophy of logic, etc)
  • Nic Damnjanovic (deflationism, truth)
  • Marian David (truth, etc)
  • Iris Einheuser (realism, relativism, rigidity)
  • Hartry Field (paradoxes, vagueness, mathematics, metaphysics)
  • Michael Gabbay (philosophy of logic)
  • Christopher Gauker (truth, conditionals, language and thought)
  • Michael Glanzberg (truth, quantification, semantics)
  • Mario Gómez-Torrente (vagueness, logical constants)
  • Delia Graff (vagueness, descriptions, etc)
  • Patrick Greenough (vagueness, liar paradox)
  • Paul Hovda (vagueness, mereology)
  • Gerald Hull (vagueness, ethics)
  • Rosanna Keefe (vagueness, circularity)
  • Gary Kemp (truth, names, aesthetics, etc)
  • Jeffrey Ketland (truth, paradoxes, arithmetic)
  • Max Kölbel (relativism, meaning)
  • Philip Kremer (truth, propositions, topological logic, relevance logic)
  • Michael Lynch (truth, supervenience)
  • John MacFarlane (relative truth, philosophy of logic, history)
  • Graham Oppy (truth, semantics; plus religion and cosmology)
  • Douglas Patterson (theories of truth, paradoxes, understanding)
  • Gurpreet Rattan (truth, meaning, concepts)
  • Greg Ray (vagueness, Tarski, semantics, logic, etc)
  • Gabriel Sandu (truth, compositionality, logic, game theory)
  • David Sanson (liar paradox, tensed propositions)
  • Kevin Scharp (truth, meaning, etc)
  • Lionel Shapiro (Liar, truth-conditions, meaning, Locke, etc)
  • Gila Sher (truth, logic)
  • Peter Smith (approximate truth, deflationism, logic)
  • Roy Sorensen (vagueness, paradoxes, logic, M&E)
  • Neil Tennant (truth, logic, concepts, theories, etc)
  • Robert Williams (vagueness, reference, counterfactuals, etc)
  • Crispin Wright (vagueness, relativism, epistemology, perception, etc)
  • Elia Zardini (vagueness, knowability, etc)

Philosophy of modality

  • Agustin Arrieta-Urtizberea (rigidity, necessity, descriptive names)
  • Gordon Barnes (modality, apriority, inference)
  • Karen Bennett (supervenience, modality, mental causation, etc)
  • Sandy Berkovski (modality, apriority, etc)
  • Phillip Bricker (modality)
  • Ross Cameron (modality, properties, ontology)
  • Daniel Cohnitz (modal epistemology, thought experiments, etc)
  • David Efird (modality, truthmakers)
  • Michael Fara (modality, dispositions, knowledge)
  • Kit Fine (modality, ontology, logic)
  • Heimir Geirsson (modality, apriority, propositions, justification, etc)
  • Tamar Gendler (thought experiments, imagination, etc)
  • Dominic Gregory (possible worlds, modal logic, etc)
  • Reina Hayaki (modality)
  • Allan Hazlett (possible worlds, epistemology)
  • Simon Langford (rigidity, counterpart theory)
  • Joseph Melia (modal ontoloogy, truthmakers, objects, etc)
  • Christian Nimtz (two-dimensionalism, analyticity, reference, etc)
  • Alexander Pruss (modality, time, religion, ethics, etc)
  • Tony Roy (possible worlds, de re modality, properties, nonclassical logic)
  • Tom Stoneham (modality, externalism)
  • Kai-Yee Wong (rigidity, two-dimensionalism, etc)
  • Takashi Yagisawa (possible worlds, reference, philosophy of language)
  • Zsófia Zvolenszky (modality, descriptions, inferentialism)

Philosophy of causation and laws

  • Joseph Berkovitz (causal inference, causal loops)
  • Alexander Bird (laws, epistemology, philosophy of science)
  • John Carroll (laws, objects, contextualism)
  • Nancy Cartwright (laws, causation, economics, etc)
  • Gabriele Contessa (causation, modality, scientific realism, etc)
  • Phil Dowe (causation, time travel, religion)
  • Antony Eagle (causation, probability, etc)
  • John Halpin (laws, probability, science)
  • Toby Handfield (dispositions, laws, rights)
  • Eric Hiddleston (causation, explanation, etc)
  • Richard Johns (probability, causation, complexity, etc)
  • Max Kistler (causation, content)
  • Douglas Kutach (causation, counterfactuals, time, quantum mechanics, etc)
  • Igal Kvart (causation)
  • Marc Lange (laws, induction, etc)
  • Iain Martel (probabilistic causation)
  • Peter Menzies (causation, etc)
  • Stephen Mumford (dispositions, laws, etc)
  • Laurie Paul (causation, ontology, time, etc)
  • W. Russ Payne (laws, counterfactuals, modality, analysis, etc)
  • Judea Pearl (causation, inference, etc)
  • Johannes Persson (causation, properties, etc)
  • John Roberts (laws, space-time, theoretical terms)
  • Federica Russo (causal modeling, probability, etc)
  • Carolina Sartorio (causation, moral responsibility)
  • Jonathan Schaffer (causation, properties, knowledge)
  • Markus Schrenk (ceteris paribus laws, necessity, causation, etc)
  • Richard Scheines (causal inference, etc)
  • Peter Spirtes (causal inference, etc)
  • Daniel Steel (causal inference, causality, etc)
  • Norman Swartz (laws, modality, knowledge, etc)
  • Charles Twardy (probabilistic causation, causal perception, etc)
  • Brad Weslake (causation, explanation, time)
  • Neil Williams (dispositions, powers)

Philosophy of time

  • Frank Arntzenius (spacetime, probability, metaphysics)
  • Craig Bourne (time, cosmology)
  • Craig Callender (time asymmetries, thermodynamics, quantum gravity)
  • Joseph Diekemper (presentism, fatalism, etc)
  • Heather Dyke (temporal ontology, temporal language)
  • Nick Effingham (endurantism, material objects, etc)
  • Peter Lynds (time)
  • Ned Markosian (time, objects, free will, etc)
  • Neil McKinnon (time, identity, etc)
  • D.H. Mellor (time, etc)
  • Ulrich Meyer (time, science)
  • Jill North (time asymmetry, probability)
  • Josh Parsons (time, properties, ontology, etc)
  • Kent Peacock (time, physics, ecology, Plato)
  • Robert Pendleton (time, free will)
  • Huw Price (time, causation, physics, metaphysics)
  • Thomas Sattig (temporal parts, four-dimensionalism, material objects)
  • Steven Savitt (time)
  • Bradford Skow (time, space, shape)
  • Nick Smith (time travel, vagueness, logic)
  • Quentin Smith (time, cosmology, language, religion, etc)
  • Stephan Torre (time, tense, etc)
  • Dean Zimmerman (time, God, dualism)

Philosophy of objects and identity

  • Simon Beck (personal identity, ethics)
  • Marvin Belzer (personal identity, fiction)
  • Stephan Blatti (animalism, etc)
  • Einar Duenger Bohn (composition, ontology, etc)
  • Crawford Elder (objects, realism, causation, mind, etc)
  • Katherine Hawley (objects, vagueness, etc)
  • David Hershenov (personal identity, philosophy of religion, applied ethics, etc)
  • Daniel Korman (objects, metaontology, etc)
  • Peter King (metaphysics, etc.)
  • Kathrin Koslicki (objects, kinds, mereology, language, Aristotle)
  • Henry Laycock (objects, stuff, nouns)
  • Kris McDaniel (objects, modality, etc)
  • Kristie Miller (four-dimensionalism, personal identity, time, etc)
  • Mark Moyer (identity, supervenience)
  • Andrew Newman (objects, ontology, truth)
  • David S. Oderberg (essentialism, identity, meta-ethics, religion, art)
  • Eric Olson (personal identity, ontology)
  • Matjaz Potrc (blobjectivism, moral particularism)
  • Michael Rea (constitution, identity, naturalism, philosophy of religion)
  • Raul Saucedo (mereology, modality, etc)
  • Mark Scala (three-dimensionalism, temporal parts)
  • Ted Sider (objects, modality, metaontology, time, language, etc)
  • Donald Smith (objects, knowledge, etc)
  • Mark Steen (objects, mereology, etc)
  • Amie Thomasson (ontology, fiction, aesthetics, phenomenology, etc)
  • Neal Tognazzini (objects, counterpart theory, moral responsibility)
  • Peter Unger (objects, identity, free will, metaphilosophy)
  • Ryan Wasserman (objects, etc)
  • Ed Zalta (abstract objects, logic, language)

Metaphysics (miscellaneous)

  • Bruce Aune (M&E, Plato)
  • George Bealer (M&E, mind, language)
  • John Bigelow (metaphysics)
  • Thomas Bittner (ontology, geography, spatial representation, vagueness, etc)
  • Andrea Borghini (events, objects, Leibniz, biology)
  • Panayot Butchvarov (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics)
  • Roberto Casati (spatial representation, topology, ontology)
  • Matthew Davidson (propositions, presentism, objects, religion)
  • David Denby (substance, properties, modality)
  • Cian Dorr (metaphysics, epistemology, vagueness, etc)
  • Maya Eddon (properties)
  • Matti Eklund (metaontology, truth, vagueness, etc)
  • Brian Epstein (social ontology, reference)
  • Cody Gilmore (universals, temporal parts, physics, introspection)
  • Jeffrey Grupp (properties, time, etc)
  • John Hawthorne (M&E, philosophy of mind and language)
  • Thomas Hofweber (metaontology, endurance, epistemology, philosophy of language and logic)
  • Jonathan Jacobs (properties, powers, modality)
  • Philipp Keller (truthmakers, metaphysics, philosophy of language, etc)
  • David Liggins (truthmakers, platonism, modality)
  • David Manley (dispositions, properties, knowledge)
  • Kevin Mulligan (ontology, philosophy of mind, phenomenology, etc)
  • Alyssa Ney (physicalism, mental causation)
  • Daniel Nolan (metaphysics, etc)
  • John Post (metaphysics, epistemology)
  • Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra (properties, identity, truthmakers, etc)
  • Benjamin Schnieder (properties, modality, truth, free will, etc)
  • Peter Simons (ontology, atheism)
  • Barry Smith (ontology)
  • Chris Swoyer (properties, relativism)
  • Kelly Trogdon (intrinsic properties, physicalism, etc)
  • William Vallicella (existence, self, etc)
  • Peter van Inwagen (metaphysics, free will, religion)
  • Achille Varzi (events, vagueness, topology, metaphysics)
  • Brian Weatherson (M&E, language, metaphilosophy, decision theory, weblog)
  • Jessica Wilson (physicalism, forces, causation, etc)
  • Stephen Yablo (metaphysics, philosophy of mind and language)

Philosophy of knowledge and skepticism

  • James Beebe (skepticism, reliabilism, apriority, etc)
  • Tim Black (skepticism, contextualism)
  • Martijn Blaauw (contextualism, etc)
  • Michael Blome-Tillman (contextualism, skepticism, assertion)
  • Jessica Brown (contextualism, skepticism, etc)
  • Quassim Cassam (knowledge, Descartes)
  • Earl Conee (skepticism, disagreement, metaphysics)
  • Keith DeRose (epistemology, philosophy of religion)
  • Trent Dougherty (knowledge attributions, epistemic possibilty, virtue epistemology, etc)
  • Bryan Frances (skepticism, mental content, belief ascription)
  • John Greco (knowledge, skepticism, contextualism, value, virtue epistemology)
  • Avram Hiller (knowledge, environmental ethics)
  • Antti Karjalainen (skepticism, contextualism)
  • Maria Lasonen-Aarnio (knowledge, externalism, etc)
  • Adam Leite (justification, skepticism, externalism, etc)
  • Clayton Littlejohn (knowledge attributions, skepticism, evidence, action theory, etc)
  • Peter Murphy (contextualism, closure, conceivability, etc)
  • Jennifer Nagel (knowledge, intuitions, empiricism, etc)
  • Ram Neta (skepticism, contextualism, knowledge)
  • Duncan Pritchard (skepticism, testimony, epistemic luck, etc)
  • Baron Reed (skepticism, self-knowledge, fallibilism, etc)
  • Matthias Steup (skepticism, evidentialism, contextualism, etc)
  • Adam Wager (contextualism, tracking, qualia)
  • Timothy Williamson (knowledge, modality, logic, vagueness, etc)
  • Wai-hung Wong (skepticism, meaningfulness)
  • Jose Zalabardo (skepticism, foundationalism, etc)

Philosophy of justification (including apriority and rationality)

  • Michael Bergmann (infinitism, circularity, externalism, religion)
  • Paul Boghossian (reasons, externalism, analyticity, etc)
  • Laurence BonJour (epistemology, philosophy of mind)
  • Albert Casullo (a priori knowledge, epistemology)
  • E.J. Coffman (warrant, justification, luck)
  • Juan Comesaña (reliabilism, externalism, practical reason, metaphysics)
  • Sinan Dogramici (epistemology of logic, rationality)
  • Simon Evnine (rationality, truth, persons, Frege, etc)
  • Ciara Fairley (foundationalism, closure, testimony)
  • Richard Feldman (evidence, disagreement, etc)
  • Richard Foley (justification, rationality, etc)
  • Mikkel Gerken (warrant, internalism, philosophy of mind)
  • Michael Huemer (justification, confirmation, perception, metaphysics, ethics, etc.)
  • Jonathan Ichikawa (apriority, intuition, imagination, skepticism, etc)
  • Carrie Jenkins (apriority, explanation, realism, mathematics, etc)
  • Thomas Kelly (rationality, belief)
  • Timothy McGrew (reasoning, foundationalism, design)
  • Nenad Miscevic (intuitions, semantics, political philosophy)
  • Erik Olsson (coherence, decision theory, etc)
  • Christopher Peacocke (rationalism, perception, concepts, etc)
  • Steve Petersen (internalism, analysis, emotions)
  • James Pryor (justification, apriority, perception, language, normativity)
  • Ted Poston (internalism, vagueness, causation, religion, etc)
  • Joel Pust (intuition, apriority, Sleeping Beauty, etc)
  • Nicholas Silins (transmission failure, evidence)
  • Joshua Schechter (epistemology of logic, justification)
  • Martin Smith (transmission failure, conditionals, probability)
  • Scott Sturgeon (rational belief, modal epistemology, perceptual experience)
  • David Truncellito (justification, quotation, etc)
  • John Turri (justification, consequentialism, etc)
  • Dennis Whitcomb (evidentialism, safety, wisdom, etc)

Social epistemology

  • Don Fallis (social epistemology, epistemic value, etc)
  • Paul Faulkner (testimony, social epistemology, etc)
  • Miranda Fricker (social epistemology, ethics, identity)
  • Steve Fuller (social epistemology, science, technology, Darwinism)
  • Axel Gelfert (social epistemology, realism, Kant, etc)
  • Alvin Goldman (social epistemology, reliabilism, metaphilosophy, simulation, etc)
  • Peter Graham (testimony)
  • Joachim Horvath (testimony, analyticity, probability, experimental philosophy)
  • Martin Kusch (social epistemology, knowledge, Wittgenstein)
  • Jennifer Lackey (testimony, etc)
  • Naomi Scheman (trustworthiness, autonomy, social epistemology)
  • Matthew Weiner (testimony, justification, knowledge ascriptions, etc)
  • Alison Wylie (social epistemology, feminist philosophy of science, archaeology)

Formal epistemology (including confirmation theory)

  • Horacio Arlo-Costa (epistemic logic, belief revision, conditionals)
  • Darren Bradley (Sleeping Beauty, Doomsday, etc)
  • Samir Chopra (belief revision, physics, etc)
  • David Christensen (confirmation, rationality, skepticism, etc)
  • John Collins (knowledge, causation, vagueness, etc.)
  • Igor Douven (paradoxes, skepticism, social epistemology, conditionals)
  • Adam Elga (probabilistic reasoning, laws, etc)
  • Branden Fitelson (confirmation, logic, etc)
  • Malcolm Forster (confirmation, simplicity, causation)
  • Paul Franceschi (paradoxes, concepts)
  • Anthony Gillies (belief revision, formal semantics)
  • Joseph Halpern (reasoning about knowledge and uncertainty)
  • Stephan Hartmann (Bayesian epistemology, probability, philosophy of physics)
  • James Hawthorne (confirmation, belief revision, inductive logic, etc)
  • Vincent Hendricks (epistemic logic, formal epistemology)
  • Franz Huber (confirmation, theory assessment, inductive logic, etc)
  • Mark Jago (epistemic logic, belief revision, etc)
  • Richard Jeffrey (probabilistic reasoning)
  • Kevin Kelly (learning theory, belief revision, etc)
  • Isaac Levi (belief revision)
  • Patrick Maher (confirmation, inductive logic)
  • David Miller (probability, induction, logic, Popper)
  • Luca Moretti (confirmation, coherence, truth)
  • Daniel Osherson (inductive logic, reasoning, vagueness)
  • Gabriella Pigozzi

Good writing is the product of proper training, much practice, and hard work. The following remarks, though they will not guarantee a top quality paper, should help you determine where best to direct your efforts. I offer first some general comments on philosophical writing, and then some specific "do"s and "don't"s.

One of the first points to be clear about is that a philosophical essay is quite different from an essay in most other subjects. That is because it is neither a research paper nor an exercise in literary self-expression. It is not a report of what various scholars have had to say on a particular topic. It does not present the latest findings of tests or experiments. And it does not present your personal feelings or impressions. Instead, it is a reasoned defense of a thesis. What does that mean?

Above all, it means that there must be a specific point that you are trying to establish - something that you are trying to convince the reader to accept - together with grounds or justification for its acceptance.

Before you start to write your paper, you should be able to state exactly what it is that you are trying to show. This is harder than it sounds. It simply will not do to have a rough idea of what you want to establish. A rough idea is usually one that is not well worked out, not clearly expressed, and as a result, not likely to be understood. Whether you actually do it in your paper or not, you should be able to state in a single short sentence precisely what you want to prove. If you cannot formulate your thesis this way, odds are you are not clear enough about it.

The next task is to determine how to go about convincing the reader that your thesis is correct. In two words, your method must be that of rational persuasion. You will present arguments. At this point, students frequently make one or more of several common errors. Sometimes they feel that since it is clear to them that their thesis is true, it does not need much argumentation. It is common to overestimate the strength of your own position. That is because you already accept that point of view. But how will your opponent respond? It is safest to assume that your reader is intelligent and knows a lot about your subject, but disagrees with you.

Another common mistake is to think that your case will be stronger if you mention, even if briefly, virtually every argument that you have come across in support of your position. Sometimes this is called the "fortress approach." In actual fact, it is almost certain that the fortress approach will not result in a very good paper. There are several reasons for this.

First, your reader is likely to find it difficult to keep track of so many different arguments, especially if these arguments approach the topic from different directions.

Second, the ones that will stand out will be the very best ones and the very worst ones. It is important to show some discrimination here. Only the most compelling one or two arguments should be developed. Including weaker ones only gives the impression that you are unable to tell the difference between the two.

Third, including many different arguments will result in spreading yourself too thinly. It is far better to cover less ground in greater depth than to range further afield in a superficial manner. It will also help to give your paper focus.

In order to produce a good philosophy paper, it is first necessary to think very carefully and clearly about your topic. Unfortunately, your reader (likely your marker or instructor) has no access to those thoughts except by way of what actually ends up on the page. He or she cannot tell what you meant to say but did not, and cannot read in what you would quickly point out if you were conversing face to face. For better or for worse, your paper is all that is available. It must stand on its own. The responsibility for ensuring the accurate communication of ideas falls on the writer's shoulders. You must say exactly what you mean and in a way that minimizes the chances of being misunderstood. It is difficult to overemphasize this point.

There is no such thing as a piece of good philosophical writing that is unclear, ungrammatical, or unintelligible. Clarity and precision are essential elements here. A poor writing style militates against both of these.


THINGS TO AVOID IN YOUR PHILOSOPHY ESSAY

  1. Lengthy introductions. These are entirely unnecessary and of no interest to the informed reader. There is no need to point out that your topic is an important one, and one that has interested philosophers for hundreds of years. Introductions should be as brief as possible. In fact, I recommend that you think of your paper as not having an introduction at all. Go directly to your topic.

  2. Lengthy quotations. Inexperienced writers rely too heavily on quotations and paraphrases. Direct quotation is best restricted to those cases where it is essential to establish another writer's exact selection of words. Even paraphrasing should be kept to a minimum. After all, it is your paper. It is your thoughts that your instructor is concerned with. Keep that in mind, especially when your essay topic requires you to critically assess someone else's views.

  3. Fence sitting. Do not present a number of positions in your paper and then end by saying that you are not qualified to settle the matter. In particular, do not close by saying that philosophers have been divided over this issue for as long as humans have been keeping record and you cannot be expected to resolve the dispute in a few short pages. Your instructor knows that. But you can be expected to take a clear stand based on an evaluation of the argument(s) presented. Go out on a limb. If you have argued well, it will support you.

  4. Cuteness. Good philosophical writing usually has an air of simple dignity about it. Your topic is no joke. No writers whose views you have been asked to read are idiots. (If you think they are, then you have not understood them.) Name calling is inappropriate and could never substitute for careful argumentation anyway.

  5. Begging the question. You are guilty of begging the question (or circular reasoning) on a particular issue if you somehow presuppose the truth of whatever it is that you are trying to show in the course of arguing for it. Here is a quick example. If Smith argues that abortion is morally wrong on the grounds that it amounts to murder, Smith begs the question. Smith presupposes a particular stand on the moral status of abortion - the stand represented by the conclusion of the argument. To see that this is so, notice that the person who denies the conclusion - that abortion is morally wrong - will not accept Smith's premise that it amounts to murder, since murder is, by definition, morally wrong.

  6. When arguing against other positions, it is important to realize that you cannot show that your opponents are mistaken just by claiming that their overall conclusions are false. Nor will it do simply to claim that at least one of their premises is false. You must demonstrate these sorts of things, and in a fashion that does not presuppose that your position is correct.




SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR WRITING YOUR PHILOSOPHY PAPER


  1. Organize carefully. Before you start to write make an outline of how you want to argue. There should be a logical progression of ideas - one that will be easy for the reader to follow. If your paper is well organized, the reader will be led along in what seems a natural way. If you jump about in your essay, the reader will balk. It will take a real effort to follow you, and he or she may feel it not worthwhile. It is a good idea to let your outline simmer for a few days before you write your first draft. Does it still seem to flow smoothly when you come back to it? If not, the best prose in the world will not be enough to make it work.

  2. Use the right words. Once you have determined your outline, you must select the exact words that will convey your meaning to the reader. A dictionary is almost essential here. Do not settle for a word that (you think) comes close to capturing the sense you have in mind. Notice that "infer" does not mean "imply"; "disinterested" does not mean "uninterested"; and "reference" does not mean either "illusion" or "allusion." Make certain that you can use "its" and "it's" correctly. Notice that certain words such as "therefore," "hence," "since," and "follows from" are strong logical connectives. When you use such expressions you are asserting that certain tight logical relations hold between the claims in question. You had better be right. Finally, check the spelling of any word you are not sure of. There is no excuse for "existance" appearing in any philosophy essay.

  3. Support your claims. Assume that your reader is constantly asking such questions as "Why should I accept that?" If you presuppose that he or she is at least mildly skeptical of most of your claims, you are more likely to succeed in writing a paper that argues for a position. Most first attempts at writing philosophy essays fall down on this point. Substantiate your claims whenever there is reason to think that your critics would not grant them.

  4. Give credit. When quoting or paraphrasing, always give some citation. Indicate your indebtedness, whether it is for specific words, general ideas, or a particular line of argument. To use another writer's words, ideas, or arguments as if they were your own is to plagiarize. Plagiarism is against the rules of academic institutions and is dishonest. It can jeopardize or even terminate your academic career. Why run that risk when your paper is improved (it appears stronger not weaker) if you give credit where credit is due? That is because appropriately citing the works of others indicates an awareness of some of the relevant literature on the subject.

  5. Anticipate objections. If your position is worth arguing for, there are going to be reasons which have led some people to reject it. Such reasons will amount to criticisms of your stand. A good way to demonstrate the strength of your position is to consider one or two of the best of these objections and show how they can be overcome. This amounts to rejecting the grounds for rejecting your case, and is analogous to stealing your enemies' ammunition before they have a chance to fire it at you. The trick here is to anticipate the kinds of objections that your critics would actually raise against you if you did not disarm them first. The other challenge is to come to grips with the criticisms you have cited. You must argue that these criticisms miss the mark as far as your case is concerned, or that they are in some sense ill-conceived despite their plausibility. It takes considerable practice and exposure to philosophical writing to develop this engaging style of argumentation, but it is worth it.

  6. Edit boldly. I have never met a person whose first draft of a paper could not be improved significantly by rewriting. The secret to good writing is rewriting - often. Of course it will not do just to reproduce the same thing again. Better drafts are almost always shorter drafts - not because ideas have been left out, but because words have been cut out as ideas have been clarified. Every word that is not needed only clutters. Clear sentences do not just happen. They are the result of tough-minded editing.

There is much more that could be said about clear writing. I have not stopped to talk about grammatical and stylistic points. For help in these matters (and we all need reference works in these areas) I recommend a few of the many helpful books available in the campus bookstore. My favorite little book on good writing is The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White. Another good book, more general in scope, is William Zinsser's, On Writing Well. Both of these books have gone through several editions. More advanced students might do well to read Philosophical Writing: An Introduction, by A.P. Martinich.

Some final words should be added about proofreading. Do it. Again. After that, have someone else read your paper. Is this person able to understand you completely? Can he or she read your entire paper through without getting stuck on a single sentence? If not, go back and smooth it out.

In general terms, do not be content simply to get your paper out of your hands. Take pride in it. Clear writing reflects clear thinking; and that, after all, is what you are really trying to show.

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