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Reading in the Disciplines: Philosophy

Quick Tips

Here are some tips to approaching a philosophy article to make the most effective use of your time. 

First: Skim

Skim the article to get a sense of the article's structure and find its conclusion. Pay special attention to the opening and closing paragraps as they will often give you insight into the author's argument. 

As you are skimming,  get a general sense of each part of the discussion. How is the article structured?

Next: Read Carefully

Now that you have an idea of what to expect from the article, go back and read carefully. The most important thing is to figure out the author's central argument. What support does the author have for their argument? Watch out for unsupported assumptions. Take notes, you might want to create your own outline of the author's argument. 

You should expect to read the article more than once. 

Understanding an article in philosophy takes time, effort and concentration, even professors expect to read an article more than once. 

Ask questions.

Third: Evaluate the Arguments

Once you have figured out what the author is saying and how their argument works, it is time to evaluate the argument.  You can start asking questions like:

  • Do I agree with the author? 
  • Why or Why not?
  • If not, what is wrong with his reasoning?



Guidelines on Reading Philosophy

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