Philosophy essay topics – A definitive guide

Published by at November 3rd, 2021 , Revised On November 29, 2021

Philosophy is the study of critical issues concerning language, moral values, ethics, reason, mind, knowledge, existence, barriers, and controversies.

In a nutshell, philosophy answers the fundamental questions of reality, just like religion, science, myth, and mysticism. It is one of the most widely accepted systematic approaches for developing rational arguments and involves logical reasoning and a clear explanation of words and their meanings.

Are you studying for a philosophy degree? Need an intriguing philosophy topic for your essay? This article lists hundreds of free topics in several areas of philosophy so you can choose one that matches your interests.

Political philosophy essay topics

Even if you have never studied political philosophy at a college or university, the chances are that you have spent time pondering over questions of political philosophy. Here are some exciting and daunting political philosophy questions that you can select for your essay.

  1. Can genes affect someone’s political associations? If yes, what would be the implications? If no, then why not?
  2. Investigate the development of the notion of government by a social contract in the writings of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. What did Locke find wrong in Hobbes’ account, Rousseau find objectionable in Locke’s theory, and what problems remain in Rousseau’s social contract? Does the notion of government even make sense? If so, how the best social contract can be achieved?
  3. Can the wars even be classified as just or unjust? Or is it just the case that wars can only be won or lost? What are the principles that would justify a war? To what extent the Kant’s idea of the world’s nations living together in peace and harmony can be realised today?
  4. Many philosophers, including Plato, have identified problems with the traditional democratic system. What are the problems facing modern democracy, and how can the issues be overcome?
  5. Are there two types of liberty – positive and negative, as explained by Isaiah Berlin? Should there be limits on individual liberty to uphold government authority? Do you agree with John Stuart Mill’s “Liberty Principle”?
  6. Investigate the concept of economic justice. How the goods in a just society are distributed, and what is the government’s role in distributing goods? Shouldn’t there be limits to the inequalities between the wealthy and poor classes in a just society? Should individuals be allowed to own private property at all?
  7. It’s not my fault – Global warming and individual moral obligations. An investigation into the problems posed by climate change that policymakers, politicians, and citizens should be ready to tackle? Do we have a moral obligation to future generations? When it appears that your actions may not be of any significance in the grading scheme of things, should you even care about your obligation to cut back on your carbon footprint?
  8. Strangers in our midst –Should we be sceptical about open borders and relaxed immigration restrictions?
  9. The concept of “effective altruism” prompts us to send donations to the places where the people will benefit the most? Investigate the idea of “giving” from the philosophical perspective, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of “effective altruism.”
  10. Examine the social contract theory to establish the nature of justice and state.
  11. What can the government force you to do for your benefit? The topic of paternalism is of great theoretical and practical importance in the field of philosophy. For example, the United Kingdom bans many drugs such as cocaine, levy heavy fines and punishments on those who are caught using banned substances, impose taxes on harmful products such as cigarettes, and strictly control the professions of gambling and prostitution. But should they do it?
  12. Explore the concept of managerialism as an ideology?
  13. Discuss the influence of Machiavelli on the political philosophy of Locke.

Western philosophy topics

Western philosophy refers to the philosophical views and ideas that originated from the Western or Occidental world, including but not limited to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Here are some Western philosophy topics for you to consider for your essay.

  1. An overview of the history of Western philosophy of religion.
  2. Understanding the key themes put forth by the ancient Greek philosophers.
  3. Review the history of Western philosophy from its development among the ancient Greeks to the present, the relationship between the various historical and cultural movements and the emerging philosophical ideas, and the changing conception of the function, definition, and task of philosophy.
  4. “What need is there to weep over part of life? The whole of it calls for tears” – Explore the remark used by the Roman philosopher Seneca that laid the foundation to Stoicism that dominated the Western school of philosophy for almost two centuries.
  5. Investigate the idea of Peccatum Originale: Original Sin put forward by the leading philosopher of the collapsing Roman Empire, St. Augustine.
  6. In the 17th century, French philosopher Pascal claimed that “all our unhappiness comes from our inability to sit alone in our room.” Pascal encouraged his audience to be their friends to themselves. Discuss Pascal’s idea, its merits, and demerits.
  7. Baruch Spinoza, a 17th-century Dutch philosopher, argued that philosophy teaches us to look at things, especially our limitations and sufferings, under the aspect of eternity. Explore the notion of eternal totality.
  8. Analyse the rise of language, truth, and logic from the philosophical standpoint.
  9. Discuss the three big ideas presented by Aristotle that shaped Western Civilisation thereafter.
  10. Discuss the three big ideas presented by Confucius that shaped Western Civilisation thereafter.
  11. Discuss the three big ideas presented by Aquinas that shaped Western Civilisation thereafter.

Stoicism philosophy topics

Founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the third century BC, Stoicism remained a popular school of philosophy for many centuries. The Stoicism philosophy revolves around four virtues, including moderations, courage, justice, and wisdom.

  1. Modern Stoicism has been developed through collaboration between psychotherapists and academics. Some topics on Stoicism philosophy are given below.
  2. Critically evaluate the key concept of Stoicism that “the key to a happy and pleasant life is the cultivation of an excellent mental state that incorporates wisdom and virtue.”
  3. Stoicism prompts people to control how they think? Is it possible to control our thoughts and emotions? Refer to the works of Epicurus, who argued that we control very little.
  4. Stoicism philosophy argues that thinking patterns can solve our problems and challenges. But how can positive thinking put food on poor people’s tables? How a man with no food to eat can think positively?
  5. Explore the different practical exercises designed by Stoics to help people train their minds? How effective are those exercises?
  6. Can we accept everything that happens? Is it possible to train our mind to remember our relative unimportance when compared to the vastness of the universe?

Breaking barriers in philosophy topics

Breaking barriers to social norms and roles is an interesting idea. Let your imagination run wild with these ideas of philosophy.

  1. If you could start a country from scratch, what would it be like?
  2. Comparing the government running on statistics, artificial intelligence, and computer algorithm with the government that we have now. Which one will be better?
  3. If you were given the opportunity to introduce reforms to the process of selecting your country’s leaders – what changes would you make?
  4. Is there a need to introduce a marriage institution given the modern-day complexities, or is it fine how it is?
  5. Discuss the idea of “sustainability human.” Are our current industrial practices destroying the planet earth, or is it just a myth?
  6. Were the agricultural revolution and the resulting industrialisation overall good for mankind? Or would the world have been better without it, living in small nomadic tribes?
  7. Discuss the top give moral dilemmas the world is facing today?
  8. Privacy or safety – Should there be limitations to what the government can do to ensure public safety?
  9. A society without a set of laws – Would it be better or worse than the society you are living in?
  10. Under the current world order, what are some of the rights that you want to be taken away, and what about the rights you don’t have but should?

Philosophy topics in law

Writing an essay on the philosophy of law topics can help you improve your logical thinking and reasoning. Here are some ‘philosophy of law’ topics that would enable you to assess the past and current legal models and get a deeper insight into the key issues concerning this area of philosophy.

  1. If there were no laws to control or influence your behaviour – how might you have behaved?
  2. If you could save another person’s life but don’t because you would be breaking the state’s laws, would your decision be ethically justified?
  3. Identify and discuss a right of liberty that the people feel entitled to have under the law, such as the freedom of speech or gender equality. Evaluate the responsibilities of the legal system, the government, and the public to endorse those prerogatives.
  4. Consider the core values of the UK constitution: self-government, equality, and liberty. Take into consideration the roles of the current government officeholders, including the Prime Minister, the Senator, the ministers, the mayors, and the judges. Evaluate the extent to which these government representatives have been able to uphold the UK constitution’s core values. Discuss with examples.
  5. What is the one moral value that should be mandatory for all constitutions of the world? Write an expository essay that provides a logical explanation of why your stated moral value is of critical importance for every constitution regardless of the state’s history and culture.
  6. Think about the US Constitution. Does it prevent individuals from performing specific actions, thereby restricting the requirements of modern society? Produce a persuasive essay that addresses this important question with supporting evidence material.
  7. Investigate the rationale behind the fundamental human rights and the logic behind the natural law.
  8. Explore two different natural law theories. Discuss the role of morality in both.
  9. Use practical examples and logical reasoning to justify the statement, “natural law can help a society live in peace and harmony.”
  10. Can a fair justice system and legal rights coexist? Is there a relationship between justice and legal rights? Use examples to support your reasoning.
  11. Are we forced to adhere to the laws of the system? Use examples and evidence to support your central argument.
  12. What are the advantages and disadvantages of adhering to a legal system? Discuss the moral, economic and political, and social implications for each advantage and disadvantage.

Environmental philosophy topics

Here is an illustrative list of environmental philosophy topics to get you thinking about the possible ideas for your essay. You can choose any of these topics, or you can get in contact with our experts to order custom topics.

  1. It’s not my fault – Global warming and individual moral obligations. An investigation into the problems posed by climate change that policymakers, politicians, and citizens should be ready to tackle? Do we really have a moral obligation to future generations? When it appears that your actions may not be of any significance in the grand scheme of things, should you even care about your obligation to cut back on your carbon footprint?
  2. Latest evidence shows that the plastic toothbrush we have been using for the last century has contributed significantly to environmental pollution. Can small steps like replacing your traditional plastic toothbrush with an eco-friendly alternative really help to control climate change? Do we have a moral obligation to help curb the increasing plastic pollution destroying marine life?
  3. Veganism, harm-free animal flesh, and nonmaleficence: Navigating dietary ethics in an unjust world. Produce an argumentative essay focusing on the philosophy of animal consumption that harms animals, the environment, and humans.
  4. Discuss practical ecology and foundations for environmental ethics.
  5. Should you rely upon your conscience or moral beliefs to find a solution to an environmental issue when your profession disagrees with them?
  6. Discuss the significance of corporate social responsibility to prevent environmental catastrophes.
  7. Can eco-sabotage be justified? Discuss with examples and strong supporting evidence material.
  8. Are the citizens responsible for preventing environmental harm and promoting ecological benefit?
  9. Littering is a major source of environmental pollution in developing countries – Identity the basis for the polluting actions of the citizens.
  1. Should we or should we not let nature take its course in national parks?
  2. Is it ethically and morally correct to sedate, capture, radio collar, take blood samples from animals for testing purposes?
  3. Is the world’s increasing population an environmental concern? Should there be regulations to control birth and population in a world thin on resources? If yes, then what are some practical yet ethical methods for controlling human population?
  4. Explore the concept of speciesism? What are the moral implications of this idea?
  5. Do we need to manage nature to protect it or let nature take its course? Justify your argument with strong evidence.

Personal philosophy topics

Our time in life is short. As conscious beings, we are always eager to make the most of the time we have, achieve more extraordinary things in life, and leave this world a better place than we entered it. Our personal philosophies guide us and play a crucial role in our actions, whether in business or personal affairs.

Some intriguing personal philosophy topics are listed below.

  1. How significant is the role of personal philosophy in shaping your future – Can you create a personal philosophy that ensures success in life?
  2. What are the elements of a successful personal philosophy? Are some aspects more important than others? Identify and discuss the ingredients of personal philosophy in detail in an expository essay.
  3. Does personal philosophy really give you adequate means to deal with the outside world?
  4. Life is too short to be taken seriously – Discuss the merits and demerits of this statement.
  5. What does the phrase “in the pursuit of happiness” mean? Can we ever be happy?
  6. Should a man be in charge of the outside world affairs and the women should only take care of the household chores? Should the roles of men and women be pre-defined in a family unit?
  7. “Just do it” – Examine this phrase from the philosophical perspective.
  8. What is mindfulness? Can it help us succeed? Can it help us achieve true happiness?
  9. How do we develop a sense of responsibility to leave the world a better place than when we enter it? Should we even care about the outside world?
  10. Who is the better teacher? Books or practical experiences?

Moral philosophy topics

Moral philosophy is an exciting subject that covers a range of theories and concepts, including but not limited to virtue theory, utilitarianism, Kantianism, casuistry, and more. Here are some really unique moral philosophy research topics to inspire you.

  1. Discuss the UK’s moral dilemmas (or another country of your choice) from the business and cultural perspective.
  2. Do animals have morals? What makes humans think that they are the only species with morals?
  3. Does religion make people morally better? Do religious government representatives have moral standards than those that don’t follow a religion?
  4. Analyse the nature of morality. Investigate whether it is objective or subjective. Compose an argumentative essay on the topic and back your arguments with evidence.
  5. What is more important – intentions or outcomes? Should we judge people based on only their intentions when judging their actions?
  6. Examine the reasons humans often associate beauty with morality.
  7. Should I be morally obliged to save another person’s life if they live in another country, and I feel powerless?
  8. Should the people from wealthier countries feel obliged to help poor people globally? What should be the basis of their moral standards?
  9. Describe the significance of ancient philosophy to the moral standards we hold today in the West. How important was the role of the philosophical ideas put forth by the likes of Socrates, the Bible, Kant, and Aristotle in designing our understanding of peace, harmony, happiness, truth, and morality?
  10. How must one spend their life? Should they live in pursuit of knowledge, power, happiness, or all? In search of happiness and harmony, should we care about the happiness of everyone? Is it morally right to lie or deceive if the intentions are for a good cause?
  11. Some religious beliefs give humans absolute dominion over animals and treat them as they please. Are humans superior to animals? Do animals have analytical capabilities like humans that must be protected?
  12. Explore the conceptual relevance of Jihad – What are the moral and ethical basis of the concept of Jihad in Islamic tradition and compare the grounds with those upheld in the Western culture.

Silly and controversial philosophy topics

Here are some silly and controversial questions if you plan to choose an “out of the box” research topic. You are welcome to contact us via live chat, WhatsApp, Messenger, email, or telecom for more ideas.

  1. Can the Islamic concept of Jihad ever be justified from the perspective of morality? Who gives Jihadists the right to decide who should be prosecuted in the name of Allah?
  2. Do nuclear weapons protect people or kill people? Can the world governments really destroy all the nuclear weapons and live in harmony?
  3. What is the purpose of our life? Did God create us, or did we come into existence through a natural process? Is nature God?
  4. How do the different races come into existence? Can one race be superior to others because of the genes and DNA?
  5. If the religions ceased to exist, would the world become a better place or a worse place?
  6. What is true love? How would you define true love? Who decides whether any form of love is true or not? What are the criteria for judging another person’s emotions of love?
  7. Why do we value the dead more than the living?
  8. Should we stop making electronic gadgets because they have taken away our emotions? Put forth your arguments in the form of a persuasive essay.
  9. What is the perfect life? Does an ideal life exist?
  10. Discuss the relationship between numbers in a bank account and our happiness? Can money buy happiness? Can the state of true happiness be achieved without money?
  11. Do vegetables feel pain when we bite into them? Is there a way to measure their pain?
  12. Is free will real or just an illusion?

Philosophy essay format and structure

The format of a philosophy essay depends on the type of essay you are required –argumentative, expository or another?

Check your essay assignment brief or talk to your tutor about the format and structure you must follow to be sure of what is required.

Typically, philosophy essays follow the five-paragraph essay structure which includes an introduction, three main body paragraphs and the concluding paragraph.

How to write a philosophy essay?

Here are the steps for writing a philosophy essay.

  • Find relevant information according to your interests.
  • Develop the research question that needs to be addressed.
  • Make an essay outline with a table of contents for your essay so you know exactly what needs to be included in your essay.
  • Start the introduction to provide a background to the topic you are aiming to investigate.
  • Write the main body, and provide arguments and statements to base your opinion on.
  • End with the conclusion.

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