Why Writing Works

Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts

Documentation in Philosophy

by Dr. Maureen Sander-Staudt

Philosophy generally uses the APA style of documentation. Any idea that is quoted or paraphrased is expected to be cited. Philosophy draws on broad ideas that makes it difficult to avoid previously discussed themes, but any theoretically grounded analysis should indicate the thinkers who contributed to the theory, especially when using specialized language or concepts.

Why documentation is important 

Philosophy often involves responding to the ideas of others, and defending one’s own ideas with the help of others. Because the main goal is truth, authors are expected to give credit for thought, but also to inform the reader of how lines of thought have been developed. It is expected that a philosopher will paraphrase accurately and fairly, and demonstrate that they have read on the subject broadly. Philosophers seek to avoid both formal and informal fallacies, and to expose them in the thinking of others. Philosophers are thus expected to be generous in the treatment of counter-arguments—supplementing the line of reasoning if necessary to render the strongest possible antithesis, in order to refute the best objections and avoid the fallacy of the straw man argument. Philosophy distinguishes itself from rhetoric, in that philosophers see themselves as striving to ascertain truth, not to win an argument at any cost.


Philosophy: Disciplinary Perspective

Writing in Philosophy

Reading in Philosophy

Research in Philosophy