A thesis is the central idea of a piece of writing with the entire work developing and supporting the idea. Though sometimes unstated, a thesis should always govern a paper. It usually appears as a thesis statement somewhere in the paper, primarily in the opening paragraph.
Better Thesis 1: Stanley Fish's argument that free speech exists more as a political prize than as a legal reality ignores the fact that even as a political prize it still serves the social end of creating a general cultural atmosphere of tolerance that may ultimately promote free speech in our nation just as effectively as any binding law.
Bad Thesis 2: This paper will consider the advantages and disadvantages of certain restrictions on free speech.
Better Thesis 2: Even though there may be considerable advantages to restricting hate speech, the possibility of chilling open dialogue on crucial racial issues is too great and too high a price to pay.