Purdue University Graduate School
The Structure of Philosophical Discourse.pdf (2.36 MB)

The Structure of Philosophical Discourse

Download (2.36 MB)
posted on 2022-04-20, 17:47 authored by Kyle James LucasKyle James Lucas


Motivated by the lack of research that has explored the rhetorical structure of research articles in the humanities, this dissertation analyzes professional philosophical discourse using move-analysis as an approach. A corpus of 60 research articles was compiled from some of the leading philosophy journals. The articles were selected from three sub-disciplinary areas: (a) metaphysics and epistemology, (b) the history of philosophy, and (c) ethics. To analyze the articles, a move analysis codebook was developed, which identified the rhetorical functions (i.e., moves and steps) that different text segments played. The codebook was then applied to the entire research article structure of the 60 research articles. Linguistic features of certain functional units were also identified via corpus analysis techniques. The results of the study show that rhetorical structure of philosophical writing is distinctive compared to other fields and disciplines. On one hand, at the macro level, philosophical writing uses a problem-solution structure rather than the IMRD (intro-methods-results-discussion) structure, common in the social and natural sciences. At the move and step level, philosophical writing heavily relies on evaluation to critically analyze solutions to philosophical problems. Finally, the dissertation found systemic rhetorical functions that permeated the entire research article. Most notably, philosophers heavily qualify and outline their arguments throughout the text. 



2021-2022 CLA Dean's Continuing Graduate Education Support Fellowship


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Tony Silva

Additional Committee Member 2

April J. Ginther

Additional Committee Member 3

Margie S. Berns

Additional Committee Member 4

Christopher L. Yeomans