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HUM 2220: Political Philosopher Research Paper Assignment

This guide will help with the HUM 2220: Introduction to Philosophy Political Philosopher research paper assignment for Professor Mary Slavin.

Getting Started

Review your research paper assignment and your library discussion board assignment.

Once you have chosen the political philosopher to research:

Use the Find Books page to locate print or eBooks on your political philosopher. Use the video tutorials on the Find Books page for instruction on searching for biographies.

Use the Find Articles page to locate biographical, contextual, and historical articles about your political philosopher. Use the links to recommended databases for easy access. View the video tutorials located on the Find Articles page for instruction on how to conduct a search in the recommended databases.

Use the Writing and Citing page for help with writing and formatting your paper and citing your sources properly. 

Use the Help & Feedback page to chat with a librarian, search library FAQs, or email your librarian directly. 

The content in this LibGuide will help you learn how to:

  • Refine your search terms
  •  Use Biography in Context and eBook Central to find biographical information. 
  •  Use Credo Reference, Modern World History, and ProQuest Social Science Journals to find contextual and historical information. 
  • Ensure that you are finding specific resources that  meet your research needs.

Your Assignment

Library Discussion Board Workshop

1. Carefully read the instructions for your research paper assignment. 

2. Review the LibGuide created for your class. View the how-to tutorials for finding articles in the databases (on the Find Articles page of the LibGuide). 

3. Using the database Biography in Context or eBook Central, find a biography on your political philosopher.

  • Cite the biography in MLA format. 
  • Write a paragraph answering some of the following questions:
    • Where did your philosopher live? During what historical period? Describe the philosopher's location and historical period--what characterized the time s/he lived in?
    • What kind of education did your philosopher receive?
    • What relationships, personal or professional, influenced your philosopher? Which were significant?
    • Did your philosopher work? What kind of work did s/he do? How might that affect their philosophies?

4. Using the databases Credo Reference, Modern World History, or the Social Science Journals, find two articles that provide contextual information on your philosopher's life and teachings.

  • Cite the articles in MLA format.
  • For each article, write a paragraph answering some of the following questions:
    • What are the prevailing beliefs in the philosopher's body of work? Describe them in your own words. Can you connect these to the philosopher's biographical information?
    • What kind of educational, socioeconomic, political, nationalistic, and/or religious forces shaped the philosopher's views? What was happening in the world around them?
    • Were there significant historical events which effected the philosopher's work and beliefs? Describe their effect in your own words. 
    • How was the philosopher's work accepted, challenged, or opposed? In the philosopher's lifetime and afterwards? Who accepted, challenged, or opposed the philosopher's work? Why or why not?

5. Sum up your research experience in a few sentences.

  • Are you missing any perspectives you need to continue searching for?
  • Did you face any challenges in doing this research?
  • How do the three articles you found work together? How will you incorporate them into your final paper?
  • Do you have questions about your next steps? 

6. Respond to a classmate in one or more of the following ways:

  • Offer a suggestion.
  • Ask a detailed question.
  • Give feedback on their research so far. 


Political Philosopher Research Paper 


  • A list of suggested philosophers is provided in Course Material site for Week 8.  Note:  Do not select a philosopher featured in the e-Text!
  • Library research: Must have a minimum of four to five sources three of which must be from the library.
  • Citations: In-text citations (abbreviated) as well as the full publication information in works cited (no URLs) in MLA Style.
  • Submission of an annotated bibliography – Week 7
  • Submission of paper – Week 12.

This quadrant format provides a framework to develop, organize and write your research paper.  The four quadrants are: biography, context, analysis, and reflection.  

1.  BIOGRAPHY:  The biographical study emphasizes the philosopher’s life and greatly enriches the understanding of his/her work.  It is a chronology of the philosopher’s development

Research the following:

  • Full name
  • Birth and death dates
  • Geographical location and historical period
  • Education, formal and/or informal
  • Significant Relationships
  • Occupational experiences

Suggested databases: Biography in Context, eBook Central

2.  CONTEXT: The contextual study emphasizes the philosopher’s cultural, historical, political and social context relevant to the century and location of the person’s life.  It is an approach that examines how the person’s work reflects political and moral issues as well as religion and society.

Research the following:

  • What prevailing ideas and beliefs are embodied in the philosopher’s body of work?
  • What kind of educational, socioeconomic, political, nationalistic, and/or religious forces shaped the philosopher’s views?
  • What significant historical events, if any, had a significant effect upon his/her work?
  • If his/her work was accepted, challenged or opposed: When, why and by whom?

Suggested databases: Credo, Modern World History, Social Science Journals

3.  ANALYSIS:  The quadrant explores philosophy as a tool of inquiry that involves analysis, interpretation, synthesis, and narrative.  Research is a thinking, reflective, stylistic, and textual process.

  • What did you find represents the philosopher’s central idea or issue?
  • Are the philosopher’s views conservative, moderate, liberal or radical?  Was it difficult for his social circles or society to accept?  Why or why not?

4.  REFLECTION:   This represents your conclusions.

Personal Response –    

  • What meaning does the philosopher’s idea have for you?
  • Do the philosopher’s ideas hold significance for contemporary society?
  • Do you believe this philosopher deserves to be better known?