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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $52.99

192 pp.
4 figures, 5.5" x 8.25"


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP Canada

Writing Philosophy

A Guide for Canadian Students, Canadian Edition, Second Edition

Lewis Vaughn and Jillian Scott McIntosh

This concise manual deftly guides students through the process of writing argumentative, exegetical, and expository essays. With a clear and engaging style, this second Canadian edition incorporates samples of student writing and an abundance of examples carefully chosen to resonate with post-secondary students, making it the ideal resource for any philosophy course.

Readership : Writing Philosophy: A Guide for Canadian Students is a supplementary text intended for use in introductory philosophy courses that include a writing component.


  • "This is a superior text, and I think the Canadian focus is most appropriate."
    -- James Kow, King's University College

Part One: Reading and Writing
1. How to Read Philosophy
Asking the Big Question
A Different Kind of Reader
- Rule 1-1 Approach the Text with an Open Mind
- Rule 1-2 Read Actively and Critically
- Rule 1-3 Identify the Conclusion First, Then the Premises
- Rule 1-4 Outline, Paraphrase, or Summarize the Argument
- Rule 1-5 Evaluate the Argument and Formulate a Tentative Judgment
Writing a Paraphrase or Summary
Applying the Rules
2. How to Read and Evaluate an Argument
Premises and Conclusions
Judging Arguments
- Rule 2-1 Know the Basics of Deductive and Inductive Arguments
- Rule 2-2 Determine Whether the Conclusion Follows from the Premises
- Rule 2-3 Determine Whether the Premises Are True
Applying the Rules
3. Rules of Style and Content for Philosophical Writing
- Rule 3-1 Write to Your Audience
- Rule 3-2 Avoid Pretentiousness
- Rule 3-3 Keep the Authority of Philosophers in Perspective
- Rule 3-4 Do Not Overstate Premises or Conclusions
- Rule 3-5 Do Not Rely on Rhetorical Questions
- Rule 3-6 Treat Opponents and Opposing Views Fairly
- Rule 3-7 Write Clearly
- Rule 3-8 Avoid Inappropriate Emotional Appeals
- Rule 3-9 Be Careful What You Assume
- Rule 3-10 Write in First Person
- Rule 3-11 Avoid Discriminatory Language
4. Exegetical and Expository Writing (NEW)
- Rule 4-1 Be Charitable when Characterizing the Views of Others
- Rule 4-2 Provide Evidence that your Interpretation Is Correct
- Rule 4-3 Use Quotations Judiciously
- Rule 4-4 Draw on Context
- Rule 4-5 If Appropriate, State Why the Issue Matters
5. Defending a Thesis in an Argumentative Essay
Basic Argumentative Essay Structure
- Introduction
- Argument Supporting the Thesis
- Assessment of Objections
- Conclusion
- A Well-Built Essay
Writing the Essay: Step By Step
- Step 1 Select a Topic and Narrow It to a Specific Issue
- Step 2 Research the Issue
- Step 3 Write a Thesis Statement
- Step 4 Create an Outline of the Whole Essay
- Step 5 Write a First Draft
- Step 6 Study and Revise Your First Draft
- Step 7 Produce a Final Draft
An Annotated Sample Paper
6. Avoiding Fallacious Reasoning
Straw Man
Ad Hominem
Appeal to Popularity
Appeal to Tradition
Genetic Fallacy
Appeal to Ignorance
False Dilemma
Begging the Question
Hasty Generalization
Slippery Slope
Appeal to Pity and Appeal to Fear
Fallacy of Composition
Fallacy of Division
7. Using, Quoting, and Citing Sources
- Rule 7-1 Know When and How to Quote Sources
- Rule 7-2 Do Not Plagiarize
- Rule 7-3 Cite Your Sources Carefully
- Rule 7-4 Build a Bibliography if Needed
Part Two: Writing and Grammar Guide
8. Writing Effective Sentences
- Rule 8-1 Make the Subject and Verb Agree in Number and Person
- Rule 8-2 Express Parallel Ideas in Parallel Form
- Rule 8-3 Write in Complete Sentences, Not Fragments
- Rule 8-4 Connect Independent Clauses Properly
- Rule 8-5 Delete the Deadwood
- Rule 8-6 Put Modifiers in Their Place
- Rule 8-7 Be Consistent in Tense, Voice, Number, and Person
- Rule 8-8 Communicate Pronoun References Clearly
9. Choosing the Right Words
- Rule 9-1 Select Nouns and Verbs Precisely
- Rule 9-2 Prefer the Active Voice
- Rule 9-3 Use Specific Terms
- Rule 9-4 Avoid Redundancy
- Rule 9-5 Be Aware of the Connotations of Words
- Rule 9-6 Learn to Distinguish Words That Writers Frequently Mix Up
- Rule 9-7 Strive for Freshness; Avoid Clichés
- Rule 9-8 Do Not Mix Metaphors
- Rule 9-9 Beware of Awkward Repetition
Appendix A: Formatting Your Paper
Appendix B: Documenting Your Sources
Appendix C: Grammar Handbook

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Lewis Vaughn is a textbook author and freelance writer who has published extensively on philosophy, ethics, humanism, and critical thinking.

Jillian Scott McIntosh is senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University. She received her PhD in philosophy from the University of British Columbia and taught at the University of Western Ontario and Kwantlen University College before joining the philosophy department at SFU.

Introducing Philosophy for Canadians - Robert C. Solomon and Douglas McDermid
Introduction to Philosophy - John Perry, Michael Bratman and John Martin Fischer
Philosophy - Louis Pojman and Lewis Vaughn
The Elements of Philosophy - Edited by Tamar Szabo Gendler, Susanna Siegel and Steven M. Cahn
Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
The Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes
Practical Grammar - Dr. Maxine Ruvinsky
The Concise Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes

Special Features

  • Written for Canadian philosophy students. The only philosophy writing guide that is specifically tailored to the needs of students in this country with Canadian examples throughout.
  • Concise, student-friendly text. Distills helpful advice into simple memorable rules and serves as a comprehensive guide for new and experienced students of philosophy.
  • Step-by-step approach to essay writing. Walks students through every step of the essay-writing process, from formulating a thesis, to creating an outline, to writing a final draft. Includes examples and an annotated sample essay to illustrate each step.
  • Grammar and writing basics. A reference section covers topics such as sentence construction, writing style, and word choice to help students become effective writers in philosophy and beyond.
  • Introductory chapter on reading philosophy. Gives students the tools to read philosophical works with understanding and appreciation, providing the basis for clear and cogent writing.
New to this Edition
  • New chapter on exegetical and expository writing. Covers how to effectively incorporate exegetical writing - a critical explanation or interpretation of a text - into a stand-alone or argumentative essay.
  • Updated documentation guidelines. Includes APA citation style and the latest information on how to properly cite online sources.
  • Expanded section on essay formatting. Provides instructions and examples to help beginners properly format their papers, and discusses the use and placement of an abstract in a philosophy paper.