Next semester I’ll be writing my bachelor thesis within the subject of Practical philosophy. This will be my first big original essay within philosophy and I know picking a good subject is key. I’ve been told that at this level the main focus of the thesis should be the argumentation and referencing, not so much it being a super original topic. But obviously I want the topic I choose to be interesting, I’ll be spending many hours reading about it.
Basically I’m having a bit of trouble deciding what to write about, mainly narrowing a topic down to a specific question. I’m looking for some advice so, I’ve written out three questions below.
How do you go from a topic that you’re interested in to asking a specific question? Should you have the arguments ready before you select question, so you know which direction you’re gonna go (and if you have a worthwhile argument to make)? Where and how to start?
Building on the first question: I think it would be interesting to choose a topic that is relevant in our time and perhaps even intriguing to people outside philosophy. This feels like a good idea to increase the chance to get it published, as well as it being something future employers could read. Is it a bad idea to decide on a subject this way? If not, how should one think about formulating a philosophical question/thesis with this starting point?
(For instance: data collection and how algorithms can predict behaviour without people realizing it's happening. This is an area I’m sure has ethically/philosopically interesting aspects, however, I don’t know where to go from there. How to narrow it down without it becoming just a broad question about personal integrity - which doesn’t necessarily apply only to the problem. I’ve also thought about writing about the pandemic, but I just end up with really unoriginal ideas about “triage” (who should be prioritized when medical resources are lacking etc…) Some philosophical depth might be lacking in these ideas...)
- If 2 is a bad idea I’m very open to other suggestions. What are some recommended areas/questions to look into? Some of my interests are ethics, game theory, meta ethics (naturalism, quasi-realism mainly), choice theory, Hume, the good life, political philosophy, free will… gosh list could be made longer. But I’m also open to new ideas (although no theoretical philosophy, meta-physics and the like). Another starting point would be to just pick a philosopher and discuss their arguments, so I’m open to hearing about philosophers worth exploring as well, that are not too well known yet not too unknown wirhwe (the golden middle way I guess)
Maybe that was a lot, but I’m really thankful for any advice! Take care,