Student Achievements

Freeing Mysticism

John Cooney's, class of '20, paper published in Volume 12, (Spring 2019), of Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal. 

Moral Authority in the Contemporary Age

The fall 2017 Phil 495 Philosophy Seminar was designed as a laboratory for students to do and practice philosophy. The topic of “moral authority” was selected in light of students’ suggestions of relevant themes for our time and for philosophy. See their presentations on Power, Voice, Mandate: Moral Authority in the Contemporary Age.

Recent Honor Thesis Abstracts: Philosophy

Moral Authority in Scientific Research (2019) Evelyn Sowers - Philosophy

This paper addresses the issue of applying moral guidelines to modern scientific research and who or what should have the authority to do so. It examines the role of morality in scientific research, and makes the argument that moral authority over scientific research should come from the scientific community. This argument is based on two premises: (1) that the scientific community is of sufficient moral character to guide the direction of scientific research and (2) that the scientific community has sufficient expertise to make informed moral decisions about scientific research.

Exercising Power as a Care-Giver, Revisited: An Argument for Virtue and Responsibility in Childcare (2016) Connor Smith - Philosophy

This paper will set forth an argument for the ethical course of action for adult care-givers when dealing with moral issues regarding the children in their care. I will begin by setting the context for this argument by defining how a child differs from an adult as well as the nature of a care-giver. I then attempt to show how the traditional western normative ethical model of consequentialism is inadequate for dealing with situations involving children due to the potential inherent in childhood and the unique relationship between child and care-giver. Although a more modern Rawlsian ethical framework provides a better model than consequentialism, I will show how this framework is still ultimately inadequate due to the responsibility of care-givers for the children in their care. I will then set forth my argument that exercising the virtue of “temperance of power” when engaging in childcare prescribes the correct course of action as it accurately represents the relationship between child and adult. I will show that this thesis is firmly rooted in the intellectual traditions of feminist ethics as developed by writers like Baier and Walker as well as in the virtue ethics of MacIntyre and Aristotle. I will conclude by working through cases of interactions between children and adult to show how this thesis would work to explain the morality of the ideal course of action in these scenarios.

The Moral Obligation We Have to Our Community to be Vaccinated (2016) Alexandria Shinaut - Philosophy

Vaccines have shown to be one of modern medicine’s greatest achievements due to their effectiveness in either greatly limiting or eradicating the spread of many infectious diseases. Vaccines work best to prevent against the spread of disease when the threshold for that vaccine has been met, a phenomenon known as community immunity. This immunity can be met in only one way, through individual immunizations. Knowing these facts, I explain how it is a moral obligation to the community to vaccinate our children and ourselves. My claim for this sense of a moral obligation to our community is supported fully by the logic of a rule utilitarian consequentialist. I will also explain how the logic of Rawls’ principles of justice can lead to the same conclusion, even though Rawls is a known critic of utilitarianism. I hope that the outcome of this paper leads others to believe that vaccinations are an obligation in addition to our desire to increase the well-being of not only ourselves, but also for others.

An Investigation of the Self as relational and the propensity for evil produced from indifference towards human relationships (2015) Jessica Knapp - Philosophy

Provoked by Albert Camus’ The Stranger, this thesis explores the connection between evil and indifference towards human relationships. Relying heavily on Hannah Arendt and Simone De Beauvoir, I offer an understanding of the self as relational and then explore how an indifference towards human relationships leads to a higher propensity for evil.

Situatedness and Art: Maurice: Merleau-Ponty on Perception, Aesthetics, and the Embodiment of Being (2014)
Taylor Peliska - Philosophy 

French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty is one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers. Merleau-Ponty’s main philosophical concern is understanding how humans experience and perceive the world aroundthem. He grounds his thought in phenomenological inquiry and existential ontology, providing a rich understanding of what it means to be a human livingin the world. In his examination of the human situation in the world, Merleau-Ponty draws from art, in particular the work of French painter, Paul Cézanne, in outlining a theory of aesthetics that brings to light our being in the world as an embodied individual who is immersed in it, not outside of it. In my paper I explore the various implications of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, paying specific attention to his aesthetic theory and how this perspective unveils a new un derstanding of what it means to be human living and existing in the world.

Potestas Marci Aurelii: Cursus Philosophus (The Ruling Power of Marcus Aurelius: a Philosophical Journey) (2011)
Anna Wirth - Philosophy and Classical Studies, Honors Scholar Program

What is it that makes a man who he is? What causes him to make certain decisions-to take certain actions over others? The beliefs and values of a human being are the only reasons for which a free person will act. Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD, was aware of this fact, and sought to rule his conscious will with supreme Reason, the dispassionate thinking process through which decisions are made, in accordance to Nature. A free person is not ruled by emotions, and does not base decisions upon externals at all, but will always act according to his or her ruling Reason. Marcus sought to embody the true Philosopher, one whose Reason guided all and whose behaviour flowed from that rationality into the practical application of living. Being human, it is in his nature to live in communion with others and fulfill the duties for which he was born. His love for Philosophy, and his lifetime spent seeking after her, formed his potestás, or ruling power. This ruling power is over the self as well as over the world in which one lives. Humans are citizens of the world, and as citizens have duties to the world as a political realm. In order to actualize this human potential to its fullest, Marcus believed in doing his duty for Rome and also for himself. Marcus Aurelius' beliefs in Stoicism are reflected in all of his actions and musings, and are the foundation for his political rule and influence in Rome.

    Philosophy Honors Thesis Topics

    Philosophy students may choose to write an honors thesis, which is required for Carroll students to be eligible for graduation honors. The honors thesis project stimulates creative thinking, student research, and individual academic inquiry. Past philosophy student honors thesis topics include:

    • "Biological, Metaphysical and Ethical Investigations Into the National Bioethics Advisory Commission’s Position on Human Cloning" - Ryan Hansen, Philosophy
    • "The Helena Community Garden is Providing an Important Opportunity for the Development of our Community" – Kendra Williams, Philosophy/Environmental Studies
    • "The Ethics of Pain" - Rodi Pitstick, Philosophy
    • "Awakening the Sacred in Environmental Ethics: A Study of the McDonald Gold Project" -Michael Willing, Philosophy
    • "Artificial Intelligence" - Michael Sangray, Philosophy/Computer Science