SIU Department Name | Page Title

siu logo siupress logo

SIU logo


Main Content Area

Writing Philosophy

Writing Philosophy

A Guide to Professional Writing and Publishing

Add to Cart

Richard A. Watson


Paperback (Other formats: NLEB)
112 pages, 5.5 x 8.5


Additional Materials

About the Book

Richard A. ("Red") Watson has published fiction, general nonfiction, and scholarly books. His essay "On the Zeedijk," about Descartes in Holland and first published in The Georgia Review, was the lead essay in The Pushcart Prize XV, 1990–1991: Best of the Small Presses. Red knows writing.

He also knows academe and has written Writing Philosophy as a kind of survival manual for undergraduates, graduate students, and junior faculty members in philosophy. Also helpful to those in the humanities and the social sciences, the book is a guide to the professional writing and publishing that are essential to an active participation in the conversation and discussion that constitute these professional fields. To the extent that publication is the crucial factor in tenure decisions, it will help the beginning scholar meet tenure criteria.

Despite the importance of the oral tradition in philosophy and the influence of the dialogue, many philosophical points are so intricate and complex that they can be advanced, followed, and criticized only if they are written as stepwise arguments for study and contemplation at length and at leisure. Watson provides a set of basic principles and a plan for writing argumentative papers of 1,500 to 15,000 words (3 to 30 printed pages) and books containing a sequence of sustained arguments of 70,000 to 150,000 words (200 to 300 printed pages).

Because the first book of most professional philosophers is a revised dissertation, Watson presents a plan for writing that dissertation in such a way that its chapters will serve as publishable articles and the dissertation itself will need very little rewriting as a book. His discussion of the principles of reason, clarity, and argument ranges from such topics as dangling participles and the proper usage of ellipses to matters of categorization and univocity.


Richard A. Watson is professor of philosophy at Washington University.


“Watson offers a frank discussion of the reasons to publish, along with insight and guidance as to how one might go about doing this. . . . Watson takes the mystery out of what for many graduate students (and ju­nior faculty) is a perilous journey into the treacherous unknown. Furthermore, this book is a refreshingly frank and unidealized account of the situation in professional philosophy and the relationship that publishing has to success in the field. It is the reality most of us face.”—Lisa Bates, Newsletter on Philosophy and Teaching