GUIDELINES FOR WRITING PAPERS IN PHILOSOPHY
[Used in Tom Leddy's classes, SJSU. Spring 2003 version.]
(This piece has gone through several versions and has quite a history. The version I
have was adapted from Morris Keeton and Earl Harrison of Antioch College, by way of
Steve Voss, formerly at SJSU. Others have commented on it, including Carolyn Black.
I have revised it a lot. I do not claim originality for any of this)
Note: Some papers and assignments may not call for using all of the following criteria.
In such cases the applicable criteria should be followed.
FIRST RULE: NO RULE OF WRITING IS ABSOLUTE
1.1 Papers should be typed, double-spaced, and on only one side of the page. I will
accept hand-written papers, but I strongly prefer typed ones.
should not have covers.
Simply staple them in the upper left-hand
1.2 Format, footnoting, and bibliography should be in accord with some standard
manual of style. See E. B. White, The Elements of Style
or Kate Turabian, A Manual for
Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations
. Robert Graves gives several good
hints on writing style in A Reader Over Your Shoulder
. In philosophy, footnotes
generally appear on the last page and are sometimes called endnotes. A bibliography
is not necessary if the material is already in footnotes. There are also books devoted
specifically to writing philosophy papers: e.g. A. P. Martinich Philosophical Writing: An
(Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1989). All quotes must be footnoted.
Footnoting typically looks like this: for a book Rudolf Arnheim,
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), 37. An article or chapter in a book
would look like this Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” in Visual
and Other Pleasures (Indianapolis: Indianapolis University Press, 1989), 14-26. An
article in a journal would look like this Thomas Leddy, “Sparkle and Shine,” British