Phil 302
Dr Uzgalis
Winter 1999


DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

Picking a topic to write on is often not an easy thing to do. One of the main problems is that at the point at which you have to pick your paper topic, you may well know little about the material we are studying. How does one choose from a series of possibilities about which one knows little or nothing? The basic answer to this question is that you do your best to pick something that looks like it is going to be interesting and then you go exploring. If you do this early enough there may well be time for you to change your mind if it turns out that you are not finding the topic particularly interesting. It is important that you find a topic which interests you. Writing a paper like this is much more enjoyable if you are excited about the subject your are researching. So the first step is to read through the topics and see if anything strikes a cord with you. If not, then there are other steps we can take to help you decide on a topic.

In writing this paper, you need to show that you are studying and analyzing a philosophical text or texts from the period we are studying. Why is this? Well, largely speaking the whole point of this project is to get you to do precisely that. Often enough this kind of analysis of a philosophical text is not easy. So, you have to take your own background and skill level into account as well. Are you a person with a good background in philosophy with confidence in your philosophical skills, or are you someone with little experience in philosophy with no clear idea of what it means to write a philosophy paper? Some topics presented here provide more directions to you about how to proceed than others. One of the most important pieces you need to write your paper is a philosophical problem. (If you turn in a paper which does not have a genuine one, you can expect a grade no higher than a C, no matter what other virtues your paper may have!) So, if you are not familiar with what a philsophical problem is you might want to choose one of the topics which has a problem or problems that are provided for you as models of what philosophical problems are and for your use should you decided to take that problem on.

The first thing to do is to read through the list of possible paper topics. If you find one which strikes you as really interesting, something you would like to know more about, then all you need to do is submit the form with that paper topic on it. If not, then there are instructions on the page following the paper topics for how to continue your search.

Possible Paper Topics