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Philosophy Journal Writing


There are several valid and valuable approaches to writing in a philosophy journal. However, in the context of an introductory course, certain techniques and strategies are especially beneficial. Recommended options are listed below.

A. Subject-matter of writing

1. Class lectures or material: concepts, vocabulary, arguments, methods, positions, worldviews, historical contexts, figures, etc.

2. Assigned readings: key points, terminology, arguments, methods, historical period, disputed issues, figures discussed, definitions, etc.

3. Written assignments: (critical study questions; philosophical, reflective, critical exercises)

4. Exams: relation to lectures and assignments, level of benefit and difficulty

5. Course itself: content, teaching methods, assignments, readings, etc.

6. Current events or issues: relation to course content, critical examination and evaluation, what would X (specific philosopher or school studied) say about current issue or event, etc.

7. Other academic disciplines or your major: relevance or irrelevance of philosophy for a particular discipline, comparison and contrast with philosophy, philosophical foundations or assumptions of a specific discipline, general relation between major and philosophy, etc.

8. Miscellaneous objects of interest addressed philosophically: film, event, CD, cultural trend, court case, play, book, public figure, art work, social development, moral issue, political debate, legal issue, public policy, specific law, religious controversy, etc.

B. Types of Writing 

  1.  Open-ended exploration

  2.  Summarization

  3.  Amplification or elucidation

  4.  Critical evaluation

  5.  Analysis and synthesis

  6.  Comparison and contrast

  7.  Personal reflection

  8.  Review

  9.  Historical interpretation

10.  Identification of difficulties, ambiguity, confusion

11.  Course recommendations

12.  Expository or exegetical