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Expressing Yourself Philosophically

Dr. James A. Dunn

June 2, 1999

Your first exposure to the discipline of Philosophy may very well be this course. This fact

means you will be analyzing what you believe and how you think about what you value in everyday

life. It also means you are going to learn how to defend what you believe/think. What is more is the

fact that philosophy often engages students in written work as a large part of course requirements.

This being said, philosophy papers can be some of the most challenging papers you will encounter in

your academic experience.

There is no library research telling you what you think on a given issue. You are the sole

expert regarding what is real to you, what you know as well as what you value in life.

Therefore, below are some helpful insights you will want to consider while “Expressing

Yourself Philosophically.”

1. The key to any philosophical defense or opinion is what is called a Thesis Statement. A
philosophy paper or presentation is a defense of a thesis. So, make your main statement a clear

representation of what your entire defense is about. Another way to put it is: A thesis is a

statement that makes some clear, definite assertion about the subject matter at hand.

2. Once a thesis statement is in place, it will be time to Analyze and Explain the Thesis. It is
crucial to interact and explain each piece of your thesis. Make sure each concept and issue is

precisely defined, as trivial as it may seem to do so. We cannot take it for granted that others

responding to our philosophical defense of a given thesis will understand the parts nor the

whole of the defense.

3. After the thesis has been precisely analyzed and adequately explained, Develop the Arguments
in Support of the Thesis. This is where you will endeavor to convince your reader that your

thesis is true, or at least has philosophical merit. Developing the arguments in support of the

thesis will entail the bulk of “Expressing Yourself Philosophically.”

4. Good philosophers know what the opposing side(s) thinks in regard to the topic of his/her
topic(s). Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and Develop Opposing Arguments and

Objections to the Thesis. One might call this developing an antithesis. Whatever the

definition, play Devil’s advocate – it will actually help you believe and defend your thesis with

more passion and thought.

5. Then, Respond to the Arbitrary Objections. That is, argue with the objections. Why do you
feel the objections are not valid compared to the truth of your thesis? Do your homework.

Create and answer the major possible questions toward your thesis.

6. Finally, Sum it All Up. Ideally you will find yourself convinced more about your thesis
statement than ever before.

7. Stay Clear, Precise, Accurate, Focused and Consistent with your Thesis Statement.

8. As this simple outline is thoughtfully followed, you will not only find yourself communicating
more proficiently, but you will be “Expressing Yourself Philosophically” and doing it quite

well.

Getting Started

This written assignment is the third of your personal responses to each of the three main areas of our study of philosophy. You will write a paper on the topic of axiology (values) using the information found in Chapters 11–13 of A Christian Philosophical Journey (CPJ).

Upon successful completion of this assignment, you will be able to:

· Develop a thesis using a four-step process of philosophical analysis.
· Formulate arguments in support of or opposition to a position on axiology.

Resources

· Website: IWU Off Campus Library Services (OCLS)
· Website: Course Dashboard, IWU Resources
· Textbook: A Christian Philosophical Journey
· File: Expressing Yourself Philosophically.pdf

Instructions

1. Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
2. In your textbook, A Christian Philosophical Journey, review:
a. Chapter 11
b. Chapter 12
c. Chapter 13
3. Read and use the 

Expressing Yourself Philosophically.pdf

 file to write your paper.
4. Write a four- to five-page paper in APA format on the topic of axiology (values/ethics).
a. Form a single thesis statement that you would like to defend on the topic of axiology. This is where you also want to begin with an introduction that defines the terms you will use.
b. Use the four-step course methodology of understanding, analysis, evaluation, and application to develop your thesis.
c. Then provide arguments both in support of and opposition to your thesis. Use examples from the textbook and outside research citing at least three different philosophers/scholars.
d. Give your response to these arguments from others. Are they valid? Where do they lack validity?
e. Provide a summary of your findings in the conclusion. Did your beginning thesis statement on axiology hold true?

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