The Most Important Thing of All:
Your philosophy professor wants to see you...
3. Before you ask your professor for ideas for a topic and resources...
4. What to Keep in Mind as You're Researching:
5. Keep in mind your ultimate goal: you're trying to find something to argue for. It could be:
There are probably lots of different ways of developing a philosophy thesis, but probably most of them are going to be some variety of the ones just mentioned.
Here's An Example. Suppose you discover this article:
Scott MacDonald, "Peter Larceny, the Beginning of All Sin: Augustine's Theft of the Pears," Faith and Philosophy 20.4 (2003): 393–414.
And you find that MacDonald relies a lot in the "Petit Larceny" article on another article of his called "Primal Sin." You read that one too. And you think:
"Ok self, MacDonald has a pretty plausible interpretation of what's going on in Augustine, especially with regard to Confessions book two and the closely related stuff in City of God book 12. But I don't find MacDonald's version of Augustine very satisfying philosophically, because it leaves a giant unexplained mystery at the heart of human sinfulness, namely why anyone would go for the sort of 'prideful self-assertion' that MacDonald takes to be the primary motive Augustine identifies."
So you decide:
"This is what I'm going to argue: MacDonald is right about how to interpret Augustine, but Augustine's ideas about his own sinfulness are unsatisfactory/fundamentally flawed."
Congratulations! You now have your thesis.
6. How to Put Your Paper Together
You now go to put your paper together, and at this stage, organization is key. You're probably going to want to divide your paper into multiple sections. In this case, you decide on three sections:
In the third section, obviously, you'll be considering an objection against your main argument/thesis and responding to it. Make sure you tell your prof in the opening paragraph (or two) of your paper what your thesis is, and what the layout of your paper is (i.e., what the sections are, and briefly what you're doing in each of them). Hopefully you've taken notes well, and you'll have no trouble inserting lots of relevant references both to MacDonald's papers and other supporting secondary literature that you've found, along with lots of references to Augustine's own texts. Make sure you're citing all of this adequately!