Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy


An Interview with Dr. Richard Kim


Dr. Richard Kim is an assistant professor in the Philosophy department at Loyola University Chicago. His research focuses on the nature of well-being and draws from East Asian and Ancient philosophy to address contemporary problems in ethics and moral psychology. Currently Dr. Kim is writing a book entitled Confucianism and the Philosophy of Well-Being, which examines Mencius, Xunxi and Confucius’ theories of well-being and their relationship to human flourishing. This semester, Dr. Kim is teaching Culture and Civilization: Classical Chinese Philosophy, a course which introduces students to Confucian, Daoist, and Mohist ideas regarding how to live well, what virtues are necessary for happiness, and how society ought to be organized. The following is the first interview in a series conducted by Ciaran Rhys, Ph.D. student in the Philosophy department.


Ciaran Rhys: Let’s begin with perhaps the most challenging and abstract question to answer: what do you believe the nature of philosophy is? What is philosophy’s value or purpose in your view?

Richard Kim: First of all thank you so much for this invitation!

There are various legitimate answers available, but I still like the classical way of thinking about philosophy as the love of wisdom. As I understand it, wisdom consists not only in the achievement of disparate facts, but an integrated understanding of the world, ourselves, and how we should live. Wisdom, in this sense, includes both the theoretical and practical: it requires an accurate grasp of reality and both the power and desire to do what is good.

CR: In your experience, what philosophical ideas or concepts are most important to teach? Why?

RK: Two philosophical concepts that I have found important in teaching, although for very different reasons, are logic and the ancient Greek concept of eudaimonia (human flourishing). With logic, the students can appreciate the idea that there are standards for good and bad reasoning, which I think is incredibly important. With the notion of eudaimonia I think (or hope!) the students start to reflect on the kind of life they want to achieve and the various ends around which they want to organize their life. I think many students, quite understandably at their age, don’t really have a good sense of the sort of life they are after. Reflections on eudaimonia and their life as a whole can have practical value in providing them with some sense of purpose, which allows them to make reflective choices about their lives.

CR: This spring of 2019, I see that you are teaching Classical Chinese Philosophy at Loyola. What is the value of non-Western or cross-cultural approaches to philosophy?

RK: Since philosophy seeks answers on fundamental questions human beings tend to ask, it seems reasonable to believe that those questions were asked across different cultures and societies throughout history. The wisest minds across every culture and society have pondered over questions about how we should live and how we should organize society, as well as questions regarding what we owe to our parents, friends, and community. Since cultures and traditions vary widely, we ought to expect a variety of differing answers to such philosophical questions, which is exactly what we find when we turn to the study of non-Western philosophy. When we reflect on the philosophical traditions that arose in early China for example, we discover a range of competing philosophical schools (Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism) that offered different conceptions of human well-being and how best to organize society. And within these moral traditions we find distinct concepts and ideas that are not readily discussed in contemporary non-Western philosophy such as ritual practice (li), filiality (xiao), or effortless action (wu-wei). The study of non-Western philosophy not only helps us appreciate the serious reflections that have been going on in other cultures and societies for over two millennia, but also enriches our own contemporary discourse by offering stimulating possibilities that can move philosophical discussions forward.

Another clear benefit of studying non-Western cultures and traditions is that it can help us realize that the views of many in the academic world, sometimes called “WEIRD” values (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) is not and certainly has not been, the dominant set of values throughout the history of human civilization. This realization can help us reflect on values that we sometimes simply assume to be good because they seem so obviously good to us, even if they do not appear that way to others. Challenging our own assumptions and biases is and should always be a key part of doing philosophy and in this regard the study of non-Western philosophical traditions provides us with an indispensable resource.

CR: What articles and books have most influenced your philosophical work? Could you tell us a bit about the significance of each one?

RK: This is such a hard question because I have been deeply influenced by a variety of philosophical traditions over time and across cultures. Within the ancient Greek tradition it was Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, which helped me appreciate the importance of the virtues, wisdom, and organizing one’s life as a whole. Along with the primary text, I owe much to the pioneering work of a number of terrific ancient Greek philosophers such as Julia Annas (The Morality of Happiness), Martha Nussbaum (The Therapy of Desire and “The Non-Relative Virtues”), and Sarah Broadie (Ethics with Aristotle), and Jonathan Lear (The Desire to Understand). These works helped me to appreciate the philosophical relevance of Aristotle. During my years as an undergraduate, my teachers Calvin Normore and Gavin Lawrence both helped me to appreciate the importance of St. Thomas Aquinas’s work on the virtues and his commentaries on Aristotle. Out of contemporary modern philosophers, the work of Philippa Foot (see her collection, Virtues and Vices) was very important for appreciating the need to frame ethical questions within a particular background and context. The works of Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue and Dependent Rational Animals) and Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self and the Ethics of Authenticity) were also rich sources of philosophical thought for me, especially during my years as a graduate student at Notre Dame. During my years in Hong Kong as a postdoctoral fellow, Philip Ivanhoe (an incredible mentor and scholar) taught me the importance and value of the Confucian moral tradition and important classical Chinese texts such as the Analects, Mengzi, and Xunzi. Sungmoon Kim, who is in my view the very best comparative political philosopher today introduced me to some key debates in Korean neo-Confucianism such as the “Four-Seven Debate” and the “Horak Debate” as well as the fascinating world of comparative political theory (see his outstanding book, Confucian Democracy in East Asia). Also, while in Hong Kong I met the great Owen Flanagan who really got me on the interdisciplinary trajectory and helped me to see how exciting philosophy can be when it’s integrated with disciplines like psychology and cognitive science. Flanagan’s Varieties of Moral Personality should be read by anybody interested in interdisciplinary work on moral psychology and ethics. Most recently my attention has been focused on philosophical issues about well-being and here Daniel Haybron’s book, The Pursuit of Unhappiness, has been deeply influential. Haybron’s book (like Flanagan’s) is also a model of interdisciplinary study, drawing on film, literature, and psychology to enrich philosophical ideas in rigorous and interesting ways.

CR: The ideas of wei and wu-wei are particularly important in Ancient Chinese thought. Simply put, wei is often translated as “conscious activity” and is important for philosophers in the Confucian tradition such as Xunzi. Wu-wei, on the other hand, is often translated as “unconscious skillfulness” and is important for philosophers in the Daoist tradition such as Zhuangzi. What do you think the role of wei (conscious activity) is in helping human beings live well? What role does wu-wei (unconscious skillfulness) play in human flourishing?

RK: Excellent question. Wei (偽), often translated as “conscious” or “deliberate” activity, marks out a special feature of human agency and the way that human beings are purposive, creatures who can intentionally act for ends. Xunzi, perhaps better than any other classical Chinese philosopher, keenly observed the human power to act purposively and to deliberately change ourselves and our environment. For Xunzi, morality takes an “outside-in” direction—it is through the values of culture and education implanted in us through constant ritual practice that we become good. For Xunzi we might be best described as cultural animals. Because Xunzi believed our nature tended toward badness and disorder, it was only through such external influences and conscious, deliberate actions that we could transform ourselves and become cultivated. So through the notion of wei, Xunzi highlights two important features of a good human life: the need to give moral shape to our lives through deliberate practice and the need to develop our culture and society (which can only be developed through deliberate engagement) in ways that are conducive to living ethically.

The concept of wu-wei (無為), often translated as “non-action” or “effortless action” as discussed by Daoist thinkers is a powerful idea that is interconnected with a variety of other central Daoist concepts such as ziran (自然 “naturalness”). Since human flourishing requires us to confront and deal with the inevitable challenges that we all must confront, we have to find ways of figuring out how to address them in healthy ways. In class I draw on the notion of wu-wei to discuss how we can effectively maneuver through life by adapting to our environment and reconfiguring our minds so that we can live with balance and harmony. One aspect of wu-wei is finding creative ways of meeting obstacles and challenges: instead of heading straight into a challenge with guns blazing, wu-wei suggests finding a less aggressive, tactful way of addressing the challenge, perhaps a way to work around a problem. I call this last methodology the “indirect approach” which is often a more effective strategy than a direct, heads-on approach. The attitude that is encapsulated in the notion of wu-wei helps us to learn how to step back from problems and find ways of addressing them in ways that require the least amount of force. By embodying the attitude of wu-wei one carries forward with passion and focus in a natural and unimpeded way, thereby achieving a flourishing human life.

CR: Your article “Human Nature and Moral Sprouts: Mencius on the Pollyanna Problem” develops Mencius or Mengzi’s account of human nature as oriented toward the good to provide support for Aristotelian naturalism. More specifically, you argue that Mencius’ attentiveness to the impact a person’s environment has on their capacity for virtuous living can help redeem naturalistic accounts of ethics from the objection that empirical evidence shows us that immoral or vicious acts help people thrive in some circumstances. 

This is a somewhat speculative, but hopefully related question: what inclinations in U.S. culture today are most in need of normative reconfiguring in your view? Conversely, what does our culture succeed at, and how does it help each person develop their potential for goodness?

RK: This is a challenging question because I’m not entirely sure what the general inclinations are in U.S. culture, in part because U.S. culture is so complex and diverse. My parents are Korean immigrants who came to the U.S. in their 30s, and so I grew up in a Korean-speaking household, imbibing various strands of Korean, Confucian, and Catholic culture. Most people I’ve known also have this kind of mixed cultural heritage. So there is probably just an incredibly diverse range of inclinations and values in the U.S. that have developed out of a broad range of social, ethical, and religious backgrounds.

One idea we find in classical Chinese thought are the notions of yin and yang and the way that seemingly oppositional forces are both complementary and necessary to achieve a certain kind of balance and harmony in the world. While we all tend toward a particular kind of social-political, or ethical view, perhaps it would be more helpful in our current political climate to step back and see how different viewpoints, even those we see as deeply misguided, might have some deeply rooted, “core” value that is actually getting at something basically worthwhile and good. Such a perspective can help us to see things from a more holistic, less dualistic point of view. So perhaps one negative trend I have noticed over the years is the inclination to demonize oppositional views. I have found that we all too often mischaracterize the views of others, leading to unproductive discourse.

But despite the point I just made, one aspect of U.S. culture that I think is valuable is its openness to a diversity of viewpoints. I know that some will disagree here (and from different directions), but there is much more receptivity to different ideas and views in the U.S. than in many parts of the world. Of course, there are deep disagreements that are an inevitable feature of U.S. society, but there is a world of difference between disagreeing with someone and working to silence them. Just think about other parts of the world and the kind of oppressive force the government exerts on the people on a day-to-day basis. I think this openness to different ideas and thoughts is an important and positive feature of U.S. society.

Fall 2019 Undergraduate Course Offerings

Fall 2019 undergrad courses


For full descriptions of the undergraduate courses being offered this Fall please see: Philosophy Fall 2019 Course Offerings (200- and 300-level) 

Also, flyers for the 200- and 300-level courses can be found here:

Fall 2019 200-Level Course Flyer

Fall 2019 300-Level Course Flyer

Contact Brandon Morgan-Olsen (bmorganolsen@luc.edu) with any questions.

Announcing the 2019 John F. Grant, MD Award Competition

Two awards of $3000 each will be given for Fall semester 2019

Eligibility: Junior or Senior Undergraduate students who have a demonstrated interest in studying health care ethics.

 Conditions: The recipients of the awards are expected to enroll for Fall 2019 in ONE of the following classes:

  • Philosophy 398:002 (The Grant Symposium in Health Care Ethics)
  • BIET 395 (The Bioethics Minor Capstone)
  • Philosophy 369 (Philosophy of Medicine)

***Deadline for Applications: Friday, April 12, 2019***

Please contact Lucas Abramson at labramson2@luc.edu for links to the application.

These awards are supported by the John F. Grant, MD Endowment for Health Care Ethics.


Undergraduate Spring 2019 Course Offerings

Undergraduate Spring 2019 Course Offerings

Philosophy Undergraduate Spring 2019 Course Offerings

Here are the full descriptions for all of the 200- and 300-level courses being offered by the Philosophy Department in Spring 2019. Contact Brandon Morgan-Olsen (bmorganolsen@luc.edu) with any questions.

Apply to the Minorities and Philosophy Mentorship Program

The MAP mentorship program pairs undergraduates from underrepresented groups with a philosophy graduate student mentor. We understand “underrepresented groups” to include women, people of color, LGBT folks, folks of different abilities, international students, etc. This is a year-long program. You can be of any major or minor (not only philosophy)! 
The mentorship program exists to help foster interest in philosophy: undergrads will be paired with a grad student mentor who can guide you on all things philosophy! For example, with your mentor you could have a mini-reading group on a topic you’re interested in, get assistance with philosophy papers and projects, do research, present at a conference, or apply to graduate school. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in MAP events: we’re planning a group trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art next semester, plus film screenings, lunch meetups, talks, and more. Our first event will be a lunch discussion/reading group ahead of the Myisha Cherry talk in November!
You can be involved as much or as little as you’d like—even if that just means having coffee and talking about philosophy with your mentor every once in awhile. 
For more information, contact Rebecca Valeriano-Flores (mvalerianoflores@luc.edu). 

Critical Theory and Crisis: An Interview with Dr. David Ingram

Ingram interview - Rebecca

Dr. David Ingram is a full professor in our department and has published eight books, three anthologies, and almost seventy journal articles and book chapters on social and political philosophy. He has just published a new book with Cambridge University Press: World Crisis and Underdevelopment: A Critical Theory of Poverty, Agency, and Coercion. World Crisis and Underdevelopment discusses the complex issues of world poverty and other crises, with a critique of capitalism at its core. On-the-ground experience informs this new work: Dr. Ingram travels the globe to witness the effects of global crises and speak to those affected. The Association of Graduate Students in Philosophy (AGSP) spoke with Dr. Ingram about his new book, revolution and reform, critical theory, and his forthcoming work. 

Association of Graduate Students in Philosophy (AGSP): My first question is about the social and political conditions that your book addresses. Your book encompasses a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, global migration, international legal institutions, world religions, and secularization. Those topics all, in some way, fall under the umbrella of world crisis and under-development, hence the title of the book. So would you say that there is no singular issue that you're addressing, but rather a complex network of issues, or is there a general social-political condition that your book is addressing?

Dr. David Ingram: That's a very good question. I would say that in general, there's a criticism of capitalism that really doesn't get developed until the fourth chapter, and I don't push it a lot, but I think that's in the background because I see global crises as centering around capitalism as a system. It's kind of a micro-study of development practices, the theory and practice of development aid, and international legal institutions and how they respond to humanitarian crises. Not just crises that revolve around poverty, but crises more extensively. I conclude on a note of hopefulness and solidarity.

So yeah, the book covers a lot of different things, but if I were to say that there is something central grounding all of these different chapters, it would be a critique of capitalism. And a lot of this has emerged from my own experience. I've been involved in what today we would call “alternative break immersion” (ABI) experiences. I went to Africa with Thomas Derdak, I've gone to Guatemala. I work with the United Farm Workers Union and so on. The issue of poverty development has always been something that's interesting to me.

AGSP: I didn't know that you had traveled and seen some of the conditions first.

DI: Yeah. When you've seen those conditions, it's like they’re indelibly imprinted on your brain. You can't get them out of your head. So, I've become increasingly interested in what critical theory looks like on the ground instead of being just absorbed with theory. I'm interested in [questions] like: can we do something with critical theory there? Can we improve practices on the ground? Even if we're not talking about revolution.

AGSP: You have been doing critical theory for a long time. When you visit these places, how do you come to a synthesis of the theory and what you see or what you experience?

DI: When I'm on the ground, when I'm visiting these places, I'm more attuned to the stories that people tell me about their life situation. Now, I don't really try to fit it into a box. But, for example, I went on an ABI just this last January to the Dominican Republic. What fascinated me about that trip was that, going into it, I knew all kinds of issues surrounding immigration, and I've written on immigration and the problem of statelessness with Dominican Haitians. I was able to actually go to some of the places where there are a lot of Dominican Haitians. There were old sugarcane plantations. When you go there, it’s like something out of 19th century: the living conditions and the use of manual labor to do practically everything because wages are so low. It's cheaper to just hire people than to buy machines to do stuff that should be done by machines, and probably in most places in the world is done by machines.

AGSP: That's really interesting. It also brings me to my next question. Critical theory, traditionally, in the Frankfurt School and later, presents criticism itself as a positive claim and as a positive action. But it sounds like you're developing positive solutions—beyond mere criticism.

DI: Yeah. That's right. What I'm interested in puts me a little bit into the Anglo-American tradition. That tradition is much more normatively oriented. You don't get what I would call a totalizing criticism of, let's say, capitalism. You have criticism that points in the direction of socialism, but the Anglo-American tradition is much more focused, so they might be critical of aspects of market economies and trade regimes, that sort of thing. But they’re kind of focused more on reform and what can be done, and so I'm interested in that, too. I do believe that legal institutions can be an engine for radical reform, but we are talking about something that’s gradual over time. I do talk a little bit about recommendations for making incremental changes.

AGSP: That's also where the tension is, especially when we're talking about capitalism and critique. On the one hand, there are people who are on the side of revolutionary change. And on the other hand, there's incremental change that's more tangible when it comes to something like legal institutions. It’s difficult to bring them together or somehow work on both of those projects.

DI: Yeah there's a huge tension. I think on both the left and the right, you have people who have just given up on institutions entirely. There is a kind of anarchist strand in left thinking. I understand where that's coming from. It plays an important role in protest movements, absolutely. But I also believe, as Rudi Dutschke said, you need to go through the long march through the institutions, ultimately, to implement changes. That's why I focus a lot on legal institutions. But there is that tension.

AGSP: There are people who say, if you try to do both, you're taking one step forward, two steps back. It seems like some of those changes within legal institutions are not only tangible in a way that radical change isn't, but closer to and more meaningful to people on the ground who will benefit directly from changes in legal institutions.

DI: Yeah. Foucault was really good because he focused people on these micro-struggles that were absolutely important, and the idea that change can be the result of a capillary kind of confluence of a lot of different movements. I talk a little bit about that in the last chapter of my book. I talk about network solidarity. Different groups are struggling for very focused types of goals—but then they see that there's a common overlap. In particular, I think the common overlap is [a critique of] capitalism. It brings together a number of different movements.

AGSP: That's really interesting. Switching gears a little bit, I’d like to talk about the methodology or theory that you draw on in the book. Are you mostly drawing on Habermas and Honneth—recognition theory and discourse theory—or are you moving away from that in your method and theory?

DI: That's a good question. I do [move away from Habermas and Honneth]. The first chapter, which is on agency, is written from a Hegelian perspective. I begin with Hegel and I and I talk a little bit about his conception of action, or theory of action, if you will. It's informed by Anglo-American approaches. My former teacher Robert Pippin wrote an interesting book on recognition and Hegel's political philosophy. Then I move on to contemporary theories like Taylor, Honneth, and Frazier, who has been a part of these debates too.

That's the core because I really want to develop a conception of social freedom and that’s something that Honneth develops out of his reinterpretation of Hegel, and not just Hegel but Talcott Parsons and other people. I also want to draw from the Anglo-American social contract tradition, so I think that philosophers within the Rawlsian tradition have a lot to bring to the table as well. And finally, I think people who are coming out of the capability approach like Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum match up well with some of the things I'm trying to capture in my conception of social freedom. Those are the three normative foundations for my approach: the capabilities approach, social contract theory, and critical theory coming from Hegel, which would be Habermas's discourse/ethical approach and then Honneth's theory of recognition. 

But it's rooted in my own experience. In general, it reflects my own peculiar orientation to critical theory, which is that I think critical theory has tended to be overly theoretical. It is a combination of philosophy and social science, but I think critical theory tends to get lost in theory. If you look at the first generation of critical theory, it’s a wonderful tradition. Its speculations verge on the theological to a certain extent, which is not to say that’s not a good thing, because actually in the end of my book when I talk about solidarity, I bring in religion as an important consideration. But I think that what we need to do is reconnect critical theory with evidence-based science, which is something critical theorists haven't really done. They don't like to talk about statistics as a general rule. My work is more much more empirical.

I want to give a couple of hoorays to David Schweickart and Joy Gordon, because they read over a couple of chapters and provided some great criticism, and Drew Thompson, whose dissertation I'm directing, he provided some good stuff too.

AGSP: That's a great team.

DI: It was. It was really great. It's wonderful having great graduate students and great colleagues.  

AGSP: Do you have any future plans related to your book?

DI: As a matter of fact, shortly after the book appeared in print I was contacted by the director of the Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research at the University of Salzburg to deliver a keynote address to a workshop this coming November centered on the topic of recognition and poverty. My address, "Misrecognition and Divided Agency: Does Micro-finance Empower Women," elaborates some arguments developed in the first two chapters of my book. More important, my dear colleague in the department from whom I have learned much, Tom Derdak, joined me in co-authoring a textbook on the ethics of development. The book is scheduled to be published by Routledge later this year, and will be the first truly comprehensive textbook of its kind to address development practices on the ground.

Drew Thompson awarded Schmitt fellowship

From Drew:

I received my BA in philosophy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City after spending two years as a trumpet performance major in the Conservatory of Music and Dance.

My work focuses on political philosophy and international ethics. In particular, I focus on the relationship between ideal and non-ideal theory, looking at how real-world constraints should influence our moral judgments. I do this in the context of the ethics of international migration and human rights.

My dissertation, directed by Professor David Ingram, is about the way Jürgen Habermas’s discourse ethics can mediate the conflict between those in favor of open borders and those in favor of closed borders. I argue that discourse ethics can (a) show there are theoretical and empirical constraints to the openness of borders but (b) challenge several arguments in favor of closed borders.

I’ve been very fortunate to have David Ingram as my dissertation advisor and mentor. He’s quickly read the hundreds of pages I’ve sent him and always has something positive to say. (He’s even read my work while he was on vacation!). His breadth of philosophical knowledge and interest in his students’ research makes him an ideal advisor. Plus, he became a Kansas City Royal’s enthusiast in 2015, either watching playoff games with me or texting late into the night about the games.

Drew and his wife, Sarah, are the proud parents of Monique and Anthony.

David Atenasio awarded Mellon/ACLS fellowship

Atenasio - Mellon/ACLS

Congratulations to PhD candidate David Atenasio for receiving a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship to finish his dissertation, "Collective Responsibility by Agreement." Atenasio is one of 67 students to receive the award from a pool of more than 1000 applicants drawn from the humanities and social sciences. The fellowship supports PhD students in their final year of dissertation writing. In addition to a generous stipend, the award also provides funds to pay for university fees and research expenses.

David's profile on the ACLS site can be found here.

Congratulations 2018 PhD graduates!

PhD grads 2018

These are two of the recent PhD graduates from the May Commencement ceremony.
Above: Dr. Daniele Manni with supervisor Dr. Mark Waymack and Dr. Sean Petranovich with supervisor Dr. Hanne Jacobs

Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Undergraduate Philosophy Conference 2018

Announcing Loyola’s first annual undergraduate philosophy conference! This public conference, sponsored by the Loyola philosophy department, will feature the work of 31 of our standout Chicago-area undergraduate students, who are all currently hard at work (with the help of their grad student mentors) fine-tuning their presentations on various topics from Aquinas to Zygote modification--and everything in between!

The conference is free and open to the public , thanks to our department’s generosity, and Campus Catering will keep us well-fed to ensure that our brains keep working throughout the day! The different panel sessions will be located in classrooms in Mundelein (507, 519, 608); more information can be found on the department webpage and on our Facebook event page.

Additionally, our keynote speaker for the conference is Dr. Maria del Rosario Acosta Lopez, Associate Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University, whose research focuses primarily on German idealism, aesthetics, and political philosophy. Dr. Acosta has published a wide range of books and articles on these and other topics, and also works in coordination with the Chicago Torture Justice Center and the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials.

Any questions can be sent to the conference organizers, Yiran Zhang and Joe Vukov.

Hope to see you there!

“To Improve The Quality Of Instruction In Philosophy At All Levels” - A Workshop presented by The American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT)

AAPT Pedagogy Wkshp

Participants will read some of the best literature regarding how learning happens, how to design maximally effective courses, and how to improve classroom practice. The goal is not primarily to provide tips, although we will provide some. Rather, the workshop is designed to enhance participants’ ability to make highly effective pedagogical choices. The interactive sessions provide opportunities for participants to reflect with colleagues on how to individualize evidence-based best teaching practices to one’s own idiosyncratic teaching contexts. Participants will learn how to identify and select challenging and transformative learning objectives and how to design and assess sequences of learning activities to make the achievement of those goals highly likely. The friendships and collegial relationships begun here can last a lifetime.

Seminar Leaders:   

  • Rebecca Scott, Loyola University Chicago
  • Giancarlo Tarantino, Arrupe College
  • Adam Thompson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cuneo 302

8:30am – 5:00pm


There is no charge for members of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers. Only members may attend. To apply please contact Seminar Leader Rebecca Scott, rebecca.g.scott@gmail.com

Interview with Philosophy Department's Outstanding Senior: MaryKate Brueck

Jennifer Parks: Congratulations on your admission to the doctorate program in philosophy at Georgetown University! We are all really proud of you. Tell us about where you applied for graduate school, the schools where you were accepted, and how you made your choice concerning where to go.


MaryKate Brueck: When applying to grad school, I focused my applications to schools that I knew had the resources to support my interests, both in faculty and institutional support. For me, this meant finding a school that could help me advance my interests in bioethics. The programs I found to be most fitting were Michigan State University, St Louis University, Georgetown, and Emory. Of the four, I was accepted to MSU, SLU, and Georgetown. Though the funding decisions were initially different, when funding for Georgetown came through it was a no brainer. The school had everything I wanted, from incredible faculty to an established center for ethics to additional opportunities provided by the proximity to government organizations. Plus, I can’t wait to be in DC!


JP: What made you decide to pursue a degree in philosophy? What has been your area(s) of specialization? Why did you choose those areas?


MKB: Initially, I chose philosophy as a major in order to develop the skills necessary for law school, using it more as a tool for future goals rather than pursuing it for its own sake. However, I was very quickly hooked. Through participation on the Ethics and Bioethics bowl teams, as well as in coursework, I began to value the art of philosophical debate, enthralled by the discussions we had as a team and in class. I have always been particularly interested in Bioethics, both medical and environmental. I appreciate engaged philosophy that aims to respond to the problems of here and now.


JP: What advice would you have for students thinking about doing a major or minor in philosophy?  How do you think your major in philosophy advanced your academic skills?


MKB:Go for it! Whether you are choosing to pursue philosophy as supplementary study or philosophy for its own sake, the discipline will help you develop skills for success. Doing philosophy well is a difficult task, one that requires both critical and creative thinking. You have to learn to be, as many professors remind me, both precise and concise in order to develop and deliver your arguments effectively. The skills you learn can translate into any field, as the ability to think through complex problems is a need in any career.

Joe Vukov Interview

1. Your main areas of interest in philosophy/bioethics include philosophy of mind and neuroethics.  What got you interested in this area in the first place?  What made you decide to pursue scholarship in this area?

 My research projects in philosophy of mind and neuroethics both stem from my interest in consciousness and whether consciousness matters, morally speaking. In recent years, we have made great strides in understanding the brain. But there are important questions about consciousness we haven’t answered yet. We haven’t determined precisely how our conscious experiences (your experience of these words, for example) arise from the neural processes that underlie them. Moreover: it is not always clear how existing ethical frameworks can help us face issues arising from neuroscientific discoveries. For example, can our existing models of moral responsibility hold up to what neuroscience has discovered about the brains of some criminals?

 I started down my research path to explore questions like these. I am also drawn to philosophy of mind and neuroethics because both are thoroughly interdisciplinary. If we want to learn more about consciousness, and if we want to chart an ethical approach to the study of the mind, it’s not enough to enlist philosophers. Psychologists, neuroscientists, health care workers, clergy, lawyers, and others must also help. I am excited about my research, then, because it lets me work with dedicated people from a variety of backgrounds to address pressing ethical questions.

2. Could you tell us about one specific application of your interest, and how philosopher-ethicists are addressing it?  What are the main questions or concerns that are being raised surrounding that issue?

 Here’s one relevant application: the use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by college students. Some college students use Ritalin, Adderall, or similar drugs not as a treatment for ADHD, but rather to improve their powers of concentration. You might think using prescription drugs in this way is perfectly permissible. Some ethicists would agree with you. Some ethicists, for example, argue that using Ritalin to become a better test-taker is not much different than using coffee to help you make it through finals. But other ethicists disagree. They argue that the use of cognitive-enhancing drugs can diminish a sense of personal achievement, something all of us hold dear. If you receive an A because you popped a pill, can you be proud of your achievement in the same way as if you aced the test using only your natural powers of concentration?

 Contemporary conversations about cognitive enhancement often track more familiar conversations about enhancement. Ethicists wonder whether and how we can distinguish enhancement from treatment. They wonder how enhancement could ever be fair, given that it would likely be more readily accessible to the wealthy and powerful than to the poor and vulnerable.

 But there are other ways in which the contemporary conversation about cognitive enhancement departs from more familiar conversations about enhancement. Cognitive enhancement, after all, is caught up in our identities in a way other forms of enhancement are not. A version of you who has artificially been made taller is still undeniably you. But it’s not so clear that a cognitively enhanced version of you would still be you, especially if the enhanced version had cognitive capacities far beyond those you have now. The upshot? We must approach cognitive enhancement more carefully and with more in mind than when we approach other kinds of human enhancement.

3. Some critics claim that science is value-neutral, and that it is the ethicist's job to consider the ethical issues associated with the science. What is your view on the connection between bioethics and science?  Do scientists have any obligations to society in conducting their research?

Human endeavors are rarely if ever value neutral. Whenever we do something, we are (at least) deciding that it is more valuable than something else. For example, when a scientist decides to pursue one research program over another, she is implicitly deciding that the former is more valuable than the latter. It is rare, moreover, that humans engage in a pursuit without hoping to achieve some goal. The reason I jog (when I have the time!) is that I want to be healthier. Likewise, the reason scientists work to cure diseases and expand human knowledge is that they see curing diseases and expanding human knowledge as valuable. Scientific research, in short, is always caught up in values, and because of that, I believe scientists have important obligations to society: scientists owe it to the rest of us to engage in research that works towards laudable ends using morally-justifiable means.

 That’s not to say all scientists should be bioethicists. That would be unfeasible. It would probably be undesirable. Rather, I believe bioethics and science should be carried out in tandem. Bioethicists can’t do their job well without learning from scientists about the most up-to-date scientific and biomedical research. Likewise, scientists can benefit from the perspective of ethicists: ethicists can help scientists recognize the normative context in which their research is embedded and see how values are in play in the decisions they make every day, from the direction of a research program to the methodology of a particular experiment. Research in science and bioethics should be symbiotic, the work of each informing and benefiting the work of the other.

4. You just moved to Chicago after spending years working and studying in New York City.  What is the biggest difference you have noted between Chicago and New York?  Is there anything about New York that you miss?  What do you like most about being in Chicago?

 I’m originally a Midwesterner (Minnesotan, specifically). So while I thoroughly enjoyed my time in New York, moving to Chicago has felt like a homecoming. The people, the culture, the devotion to teams other than the Yankees/Mets and Giants/Jets: it all feels very familiar. What are the differences between Chicago and New York? The biggest difference is the size. Chicago is a big city, of course, but there is room to breathe here.

 What do I miss about New York? Not the things you might expect: I loved going to the Met and MoMA and Central Park, of course. But when I think about what I miss most, it is the specific people, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, park benches, and subway stops that were part of my daily life there. I am excited, then, to find new places and meet new people in Chicago!

 So far, the thing I like most about my new city is the food. I love food, and Chicago is a great place to eat. Between the pizza, gyros, Italian beefs, and hot dogs, Chicago does my favorite foods very well. My wife, one-year-old son, and I also enjoy exploring new neighborhoods—we believe the best way to get to know a new city is by foot. So if you have any recommendations of places to explore, we will appreciate them!

5. Tell us about your upcoming courses at Loyola. What will you be teaching in spring 2017?  What other courses do you hope to teach down the road?

 In Spring 2017, I will be teaching Neuroethics (Phil 398: Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy). In this course, we will be considering cognitive enhancement as well as other ethical issues that have been raised by contemporary neuroscience. I am especially excited about this course as it will be run as a small seminar (only 15 students!). The course also has a fund associated with it, which will let us bring in several guest speakers and food for class sessions. If you are a philosophy major, you can register for this course in LOCUS. If you are not a philosophy major, LOCUS may not allow you to register, but you are still welcome! Just let me know you are interested, and we can work out the details of getting you enrolled. Finally, if you are a neuroscience minor or cognitive/behavioral neuroscience major, it may be possible for you to take this course for credit towards your degree. Again, just let me know you are interested, and we can work out the details!

 In the near future, I will also be teaching a course called Philosophy of Mind (Phil 387). This course will cover basic neuroethics as well as broader questions about consciousness, freedom, action, and responsibility. To explore these questions, we will be studying recent scientific research as well as historical and contemporary philosophical perspectives. I have been working with the Psychology Department and new cognitive/behavioral neuroscience major to develop this course, and am proud to report we will be offering it to psychology and neuroscience students for credit towards their majors. When studying something as complex as the mind, I’ve always found: the more perspectives, the better!

6. This is your first semester teaching at Loyola. What do you most like about being here so far?

Easy question: the people. I have been thoroughly impressed by how kind my colleagues are, how welcoming the Loyola community has been, and how top notch Loyola students are at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Every day, I get to have fascinating conversations with my colleagues and with the students in my classes and office. What could be better than that? Speaking of my office, I am on campus most days, and love it when people stop by. I enjoy catching up with former students and meeting new people. So please feel free to come see me at Crown 365 whenever you’d like

Philosophy professor presents at Educational Justice conference

Philosophy professor presents at Educational Justice conference

How students see themselves can directly impact their academic success. Your self-esteem and confidence are influenced by your own self-image or what Assistant Philosophy Professor Pamela Lomelino calls “imaging-as.” Lomelino discussed how this concept can empower under-represented college students when she presented her research at the Educational Justice Conference at the Bethune-Cookman University on July 17-19, 2016. Her presentation highlighted how “imaging-as” can be an empowerment tool to increase retention rates in this population. Lomelino’s presentation also touched constraints to “imaging-as” such as issues of social justice issues—like access to quality education and healthcare. Go here for more details on the conference.

Our new Office Assistant, Miguel Diaz!

miguel diaz

Miguel graduated in 2011 with a degree in film & video production from Loyola's School of Communication. He has a passion for storytelling which not only fuels his curiosity in cinema but in other people's lives. Miguel has spent the past 5 years working in a variety of concert halls, museums, cultural centers, law firms, and other offices. He is experienced in both technical and clerical professions and has studied in Jesuit institutions since high school. Miguel speaks Spanish fluently, enjoys riding his bicycle throughout the city, is always looking for a new BBQ joint, and swears Pilsen is the best neighborhood in Chicago. Years of working smart and studying hard have granted Miguel confidence and a positive outlook on life.

Dr. Pamela J. Lomelino's Community, Autonomy, and Informed Consent: Revisiting the Philosophical Foundation for Informed Consent in International Research


An Interview by Lauren Dennis

Pamela Lomelino, Ph.D. is currently an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to teaching at Loyola, Professor Lomelino taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she received The Best Should Teach award. She received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Colorado in 2011. She also received a Women & Gender Studies graduate certificate from the University of Colorado Women’s Studies Department and a College Teaching certificate from the University of Colorado Graduate Teacher Program. Her areas of specialization are Bioethics, Feminist Philosophy, and Ethics (Theory and Applied). In her book, Community, Autonomy & Informed Consent: Revisiting the Philosophical Foundation for Informed Consent in International Research (Cambridge Scholarly Press, 2015), Dr. Lomelino addresses the need to revise the underlying philosophical foundation for international informed consent guidelines for research on human subjects in order to make these guidelines more globally applicable.

Tell us about your book: Community, Autonomy, and Informed Consent: Revisiting the Philosophical Foundation for Informed Consent in International Research.

Because such epidemics as HIV/AIDs have resulted in an increase in medical research in less developed countries, the need to recognize the importance of community in these countries has become a primary concern in guidelines for international research on human subjects. In my book, I explain how recent attempts to incorporate community in the informed consent process fail to achieve their intended goal of balancing respect for cross-cultural differences with respect for autonomy. I insist that this general problem is two-fold: (1) current guidelines fail to adequately acknowledge the importance community has for many people in less developed countries; and (2) they fail to attend to constraints to autonomy that oftentimes get magnified once community is involved in the informed consent process. In order to identify and resolve these problems, I point out why and how we must analyze the underlying concepts of persons and autonomy that lie at the heart of how we structure informed consent. In doing so, I explain how we must revise our notion of autonomy to one that is universally applicable, given cross-cultural differences in conceptions of the person. Drawing on this philosophical analysis, I comprise a set of ethical conditions for best ensuring respect for autonomy and illustrate how these conditions can be translated into specific amendments to current guidelines for informed consent in international research on human subjects.

In your book, you draw upon concepts from Bioethics, Feminist Philosophy, Political Philosophy, and African Philosophy. Can you describe how this marriage of concepts and principles from such varied subsections of philosophy came about?

My training in Feminist Philosophy, especially Feminist Methodologies, provided me with the general skill of recognizing the need to understand how various sub disciplines in Philosophy come into play in philosophically analyzing an ethical issue. With this training as my backdrop, I began my specific analysis of informed consent by drawing from Bioethics to understand the purpose, necessary conditions, philosophical foundation, practice and guidelines for the informed consent process. I then turned to Feminist Philosophy, specifically Feminist Bioethics, for identifying vulnerable populations, information on additional constraints to autonomy, and revised notions of autonomy that might be more suitable for international medical research. To understand how larger social injustices in less developed countries might bear on autonomy, I looked to Political Philosophy. And, importantly, to understand whether the underlying concepts of persons and autonomy that underlie how informed consent is structured were actually universalizable, I studied African Philosophy.

The Philosophy Department and Bioethics Minor Program are hosting an event on November 11th in honor of your book. What can students and faculty who attend the event look forward to?

In general, they can look forward to taking away something they can use in their own lives and/or their research interests. Despite this seeming like a bold statement, the fact of the matter is that we all strive to make autonomous choices in our lives, and we all provide informed consent at some point in our lives. The information we will discuss regarding autonomy and informed consent is applicable to these areas beyond the specific focus of the book. In addition, those whose research interests focus on ethical issues can look forward to a discussion of the methodology I used in my book, which is useful both within and outside of the medical context.

When did you first discover your interest in philosophy, and what is your favorite aspect of being a philosopher?

I first discovered my interest in philosophy while taking philosophy courses as an undergraduate that were part of the general education requirements for my major (which, at the time, was not philosophy). I was so intrigued by the questions that were being asked and the way that we were being taught to critically analyze these questions and their answers that I switched my major to Philosophy. It is this emphasis on critical thinking and the ability to apply these skills to identifying and resolving various ethical issues in the medical context that continues to be my favorite aspect of being a philosopher.

Outside of philosophy, what are you passionate about?

Fortunately, many of the things I am passionate about are reflected in my life as a philosopher (both as a professor and as a researcher): opening hearts and minds, caring for and empowering others, social justice, and learning about and embracing our differences. Those things I am passionate about that are not expressed through philosophy are family, the arts (dance, music, theater), and a love of the great outdoors (hiking and kayaking).


The event for Dr. Lomelino will be held on Wednesday, November 11th at 4:30 p.m. on the 4th floor of the Information Commons. All interested Loyola students and faculty members are welcome to attend.


Ndidi Nwaneri: Hannover Institute Fellowship Recipient

Doctoral candidate: PhD in Philosophy
Hometown: Mbanno, Nigeria, West Africa

Tell us a little bit about the fellowship you received.

My research fellowship is from Forschungsinstitut für Philosophie Hannover (Hannover Institute of Philosophy). Early-stage researchers working on a doctorate or post-doctorate in an ethically relevant subject in the field of philosophy, humanities or social sciences are offered the opportunity to pursue their research project. The research process was in two stages. First, I had to send in a cover letter, reference letter from my dissertation director, and a 5-10 page summary of my dissertation proposal. I was shortlisted, after which the director and the deputy director of the institute interviewed me on Skype.

What kind of research are you doing right now?

It is a critique of mainstream global justice theories. I defended my proposal in June and I am currently writing my dissertation.

What drew you to the work you’re doing?

From the beginning of my career in social development in Nigeria, my role as program officer put me in direct contact with “the disenfrachised." Memories from those early years ground me and serve as a reminder that behind all of our theories and the statistics are actual people, lives and homes.

What kind of advice would you give to other graduate students who want to apply for external funding, but are hesitant to do so?

Please block off the equivalent of 20 minutes a day for applying/researching opportunities. Anything you do outside of your institution makes you "more visible," while building your network. The very worst thing that could happen is that you develop a folder of all the materials you need for the next application and become better at locating opportunities.

Talk a little bit about a professor or mentor who inspired you.

Many of the female faculty in the philosophy department, but mostly my dissertation director, David Ingram.

Was there any service or volunteer work that you think really helped to shape you as a person?

I have always had academic and professional interests in the fields of international development and public policy. My choice of this particular area of research is grounded on the conviction that a more just world is possible. I am persuaded that the first step to such a world is a better understanding of what real justice would entail, given the current global reality.

What do you think makes Loyola different from other universities?

The Loyola/Jesuit commitment to social justice.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

Easy. In ten years’ time I will be actively changing my world for the better, from the (advantageous) position of knowledge.


Cudahy Library Offers Loyola’s Students and Faculty Space for Academic Support


Loyola University’s Elizabeth M. Cudahy Library, home to the university’s extensive collection of books and periodicals, offers students a myriad of resources and learning opportunities. The library not only holds the university's fine arts, humanities, science and social sciences collections but also houses the University Archives and government document depository collections. The Cudahy physical collections comprise of more than 900,000 volumes and 3,200 periodical subscriptions; online resources include hundreds of research databases, thousands of e-books, and over 35,000 journal titles.

A wonderful resource for students, faculty, and staff alike, Cudahy library offers the Loyola University community opportunities to further both academic and personal learning endeavors. In the following interview, Jane Currie, Reference Librarian and Subject Specialist for the Philosophy Department at Cudahy Library, discusses how Philosophy students can take advantage of the many resources that Cudahy has to offer as well as what she enjoys most about the library.

1. How can Philosophy students use the library as a resource while they are studying at Loyola?

The library’s resources are valuable even when a class does not require a research project.  One example is our print and online reference collection.  These sources allow philosophy students to become better informed about a topic without immersing themselves in it.  Reference sources such as The Oxford Companion to Consciousness or the International Encyclopedia of Ethics (both available online) provide brief entries that can help students better understand the lectures, discussions, and assigned readings in a class.  More information about online reference sources for philosophy may be found in the Research Guide at http://libguides.luc.edu/philosophy.  When a research project is assigned, it is essential to access the research databases to which the library subscribes (Philosopher’s Index, for example) and the library’s book collection.  We hope the library is also valuable as a space for study and reflection, a source for relaxed reading in the popular reading collection with current newspapers and magazines, and a place for entertainment thanks to our DVDs and streaming video collections.[CM1] 

2. With the wide array of digital content (periodicals, texts, DVDs, etc.) available online, students and faculty are now heavily using these digital resources more and more for their academic endeavors.  How does technology affect the way that students use the library and its resources?

Technology means that students no longer need to visit the library’s facilities in order to use the library.  It is possible to conduct searches and access an enormous number of books and journal articles from any location.  This has been a fundamental shift in how students interact with their campus library and its librarians.

 3. Out of all of the different resources that the library has to offer, what is an underutilized resource that you would recommend students trying?

Students can easily miss our digital text collections.  Some highlights for philosophy students include the Loeb Classical Library, Past Masters (which includes the works of Aristotle and Aquinas, among others), and Cambridge Companions to philosophers such as Augustine and Descartes.  Text collections of particular relevance to philosophy students are arranged by time period on a page in the Research Guide found athttp://libguides.luc.edu/c.php?g=49724&p=320440.

 4. Cudahy Library often hosts workshops and events for students and faculty members. Are there any upcoming events that the library is hosting that Philosophy students may be interested in?

A diverse set of workshops are being held this semester, with offerings in the IC and online.  Topics, descriptions, and the schedule are athttp://libraries.luc.edu/classes/calendar.  The Friends of the Library Speaker Series gets underway on October 20thwith a presentation titled “Civil War Chicago.’  More information is at http://blogs.lib.luc.edu/speakerseries/.  The Wellness Center’s therapy dog, Tivo, visits the Information Commons every Tuesday afternoon, usually about 3:00, and yoga classes are held on Wednesday nights at 10:00. 

 5. Finally, what do you personally enjoy most about working at Cudahy Library?  

I enjoy the individual interactions I’m able to have with students, especially when the result is something being simplified for them that previously had seemed overwhelming or impossible.  Finding an evasive source is terrifically rewarding, as is pointing out one of the time-saving tools, organizational aids, or helpful features of a resource.  Any small thing that I can do to make a researcher’s endeavors more successful makes me happy. 

Dr. Thomas Carson’s new book combines history and philosophy through discussion of Abraham Lincoln’s virtues


An interview by Molly Clasen

Dr. Carson discusses his upcoming book, Lincoln's Ethics, in which he assesses Lincoln's moral character, his many morally fraught decisions regarding slavery, and the rights of African-Americans, as well as his actions and policies as Commander in Chief during the Civil War. Lincoln's Ethics will be published May 2015 by Cambridge University Press and is available for advance purchase on Amazon.com andCambridge.org.

How did you become interested in Abraham Lincoln?

I read most of Carl Sandburg’s six-volume biography of Lincoln while I was in graduate school. I purchased it on a lark in a used bookstore in Providence, RI during the summer of 1974. I really loved the book. I found Lincoln to be an appealing and compelling figure. At that time, there was a widely held view that he was racist and that he didn’t care very much about slavery. I was in the grips of that kind of view until I read a variety of books about Lincoln.

When did you start working on this book specifically?

There’s a biography of Lincoln by David Herbert Donald. He discusses a class about Lincoln that he co-taught at Harvard with the philosopher John Rawls. Rawls was a great admirer of Lincoln. Twenty years ago, I read that, and I wished I could have taken that class. About ten years later, there was a book called Lincoln’s Virtues by William Lee Miller that highlighted Lincoln’s ethics. It occurred to me that I could use that book to teach my own class on the topic. Around the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, I decided that I wanted to teach this class that I’d been thinking about for so long. I hadn’t planned to write anything or do much scholarly work on it; I just wanted to teach the class. I enjoyed it so much that I became obsessed with the topic. One thing led to the other, and I started writing the book.

What interests you about the intersection of philosophy and history?

It strikes me that most philosophers don’t know much history, so they often make up trite or absurd hypothetical examples when discussing moral questions. There are many very interesting and important people and historical events that they could talk about instead. I had the perception that there was a chance for me to do something new. I think it’s astonishing that no other philosopher has ever written a book about Lincoln’s ethics! He was a very interesting and complicated person. There is a strong case for saying that he was a very good person, maybe an exceptionally good person. His actions and policies before and during the Civil War regarding slavery raise many serious ethical issues.

What are some Lincoln’s policies that your book discusses?

The first half of the book deals mainly with Lincoln’s policies about slavery and as Commander in Chief during war. I don’t think people appreciate the extent to which he helped to bring about the American Civil War. The South wanted a peaceful secession from the US. Many abolitionists didn’t want to fight a war either. But Lincoln was determined to fight a war rather than let the country fall apart. Given that he wasn’t trying to abolish slavery at the time, did he have a good enough reason to fight a war to keep the country together? That’s a very important question that I address in great detail. I also talk at some length about the Emancipation Proclamation, which declares the freedom of most American slaves but left slavery intact in the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware.

Why didn’t Lincoln go further to abolish slavery in the Emancipation Proclamation?

Lincoln didn’t think that he had the legal or constitutional authority to abolish slavery in states that stayed in the Union. He took his oath of office very seriously. If the constitution or the law itself is extremely unjust, some would say that leaders should defy the law. And although I’m very sympathetic with that argument, I defend what Lincoln did. I don’t think he could have possibly been successful if he had tried to defy the law or the Constitution in that way.

How does Lincoln help start the Civil War?

In the First Inaugural Address, Lincoln said that he would occupy, hold, and defend federal property which included Fort Sumter in South Carolina, but would not begin a civil war. He knew that in order to unite the country in case of war, the Confederates must be perceived as the aggressors. Right after he became president, he learned that the garrison at Fort Sumter was running out of food. Most of the military leaders and cabinet members said he should give it up. Instead, Lincoln publicly announced that a naval flotilla would resupply Fort Sumter with food, water, and medicine, but not troops or ammunition. All but two members of his cabinet opposed that and said that this would start a war. And Lincoln replied that he thought that it probably would lead to a war. He said that, if there was to be a war, it was important that the Confederates should start it. That is exactly what happened. The Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, which united the Northern states behind Lincoln to fight the war.

What questions does your book raise about Lincoln’s character?

I talk about various moral virtues that he had. He was a very kind, benevolent person. There is a great deal of evidence for that. It was pronounced when he was a boy. It was also reflected in his tender-hearted treatment of animals. He was extremely magnanimous. He worked with people who attacked and slandered him. And, to a really remarkable degree, he was able to act for the good of the country without taking things personally or settling scores. There’s a case for saying that he was an exceptionally good person.

How do you see Lincoln’s character and personality change throughout his life?

He was a pretty rough and tumble politician as a young guy. He engaged in dirty tricks, such as writing anonymous letters attacking people in local newspapers. At one point, he ridiculed the Auditor of the State of Illinois, who became so furious that he challenged Lincoln to a duel. Lincoln also suffered debilitating depression and seriously contemplated committing suicide twice in his early adulthood. But eventually, he calmed down a lot. Despite all of his troubles with Mary Todd Lincoln, he maintained a much better emotional equilibrium after he married. And as time passed, he held more and more enlightened views on racial questions and eventually became an abolitionist. He was very open to learning from the criticism of other people, including some abolitionists who attacked him and called him “poor white trash.”

What did you learn about Lincoln’s personal life?

His personal life was very troubled. He had an unhappy marriage. He also had a very troubled relationship with his father. I think it’s very disturbing that, even though Lincoln was the only living natural child of his father, Lincoln’s children never met their grandfather. His stepmother, who was a wonderful person, never met Lincoln’s children either. Lincoln had a very distant, cold relationship with his father, but he loved his stepmother very much. Mary Todd Lincoln was from a prominent family and she looked down on Lincoln’s parents. She didn’t want her sons to meet them, and I think that Lincoln deferred to her wishes about that.

Can you talk about the book’s theoretical underpinnings of the book?

I claim—with qualifications—that Lincoln was a utilitarian. I think that many controversial things he did can be justified on utilitarian grounds. But I don’t presuppose that utilitarianism is true, and I argue that what he did can be justified according to other reasonable moral theories. To those who say that Lincoln should have declared the emancipation of American slaves the day he took office, I reply that that would have been a self-defeating action that could not have succeeded. It would have led to the independence of the Confederate States of America.

What is something you discovered through your research that surprised you?

I learned how troubled his personal life was. He had an unhappy marriage. Two of his sons died during his lifetime. His mother and surrogate grandparents died when he was a young boy. His sister died. His first sweetheart, Anne Rutledge, also died. There was a great deal of sorrow and loss in his life; Lincoln was a melancholy man who often brooded about death and human morality. But the thing that surprised me most was his role in bringing about the Civil War. It was not inevitable that there would be a war to stop Southern secession. The South did not want a war. They wanted a peaceful secession, and many people in the North would have been happy with that.

If you could ask Lincoln one question, what would it be?

I’d ask him about his marriage. By the end of the life, in his heart of hearts, did he love Mary anymore? Would he have been glad to be divorced?

If Lincoln had lived, what would his intention have been for post-Civil War America?

Maybe there’s no answer to that question. He was shot before the war was over and before the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. I don’t think Lincoln had the time or energy to think about the future in much detail, but we don’t know for sure. If I could ask Lincoln a second question it would be about this.

What can philosophers contribute to discussions about history?

Take the question: “Was Lincoln a racist?” It’s very widely discussed, but I’ve never seen a single discussion of this that includes a careful definition of racism. Philosophers are rigorous about defining concepts and making distinctions. There are many questions that combine ethics and history, but almost all the writing that addresses them has been done by historians rather than philosophers. A philosopher’s understanding of moral theory helps him/her to better understand the moral significance of historical events. My book applies several theories of “Just War” to the question of whether the Union had just cause for fighting the American Civil War. No Civil War historian has done anything like that.

Has this process differed from writing your other books?

It was very different. I had to master quite a bit of historical material. As part of that, I emailed many historians. Sometimes a short answer to a question saved me weeks of fruitless searching in the library. Historians are very collegial!

Have any other professors at Loyola assisted you with your research?

I am a friend of Loyola’s Civil War historian, Ted Karamanski. I pestered him with many many questions, especially at the beginning of my work. He and I helped organize a commemoration of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth at Loyola which included many speakers. In the Fall of 2008, we also organized a conference about Lincoln’s character. That went very well. Doris Kerans Goodwin, the Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer and historian, visited Loyola the day before Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday and gave us the memorable talk that she also presented to Congress the next day. Eric Foner and Joshua Wolf Shenk also presented outstanding lectures about Lincoln at Loyola during that time. I am also greatly indebted to Jane Currie, Loyola’s library specialist in History and Philosophy. I would also like to thank Bob Bucholz, Jon Nielson, Jackie Scott, J.D. Trout, Vicki Wike, Al Gini, Art Lurigio, and my several of my Teaching Assistants: Marcella Russo, Amelia Rhys, and David Atenasio.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the book or Abraham Lincoln?

I really enjoyed this work a great deal. Abraham Lincoln is a fascinating person. He is probably the greatest leader that the United States has ever had. In 1861, it was very unlikely that the North would both win the war and end slavery. Very few people, perhaps no one else, could have brought that about. That was an astounding achievement. Lincoln was a great leader and a very good and very brilliant man. Cynics would be surprised and confounded by how well he holds up under close scrutiny. The story of Lincoln’s greatness and goodness that many of us heard as children is not a myth. He fully deserves his very honored place in our national memory.

Congratulations to the Undergraduate Essay Contests winners


Congratulations to the winners of the Philosophy Department's recent undergraduate essay contests!

John F. Grant, MD Essay Contest:

  • 1st Place: David Masolak, “Informed Consent Among Ethnic Minorities”
  • 2nd Place: Elizabeth Modde, “Stuck in a Debate on the Ethics of Mandating Quarantine”

Philosophy Department Undergraduate Essay Contest:

  • 1st Place: Anna Ulyanenkova, “The Value of Bio-Parenting: Homosexuals’ Right to State-Mandated Infertility Services”
  • 2nd Place: Steven Yandell, “How to Know (Whether Knowledge-as-Ability is Plausible)”

Thank you very much to everyone who participated.

Victoria Wike, PhD


Postcard from a philosophy student abroad


MaryKate Bruek, a junior majoring in philosophy and anthropology as well as minoring in bioethics, reflects on her experiences studying abroad this semester at the John Felice Rome Center

As a student abroad in Rome, Italy, I’ve had amazing experiences that have allowed me to grow, both personally and academically. This opportunity has given me the ability to explore the world and its history, from taking a trip to Sicily to traveling across Europe to going on a pilgrimage to nearly every important Roman church in my Catholicism course.

I am currently writing you from Athens, Greece, where I’ve travelled for the weekend. I am going to see the Acropolis and many of the other famous sites, but I’m most excited to see Plato's Academy and the caves where (allegedly) Socrates was held prisoner. It’s really inspiring to be in the place where my course of study began, reflecting on those who most greatly impacted the art and discipline of philosophy. Before traveling abroad I would have never imagined coming here, but studying in Rome has opened up so many doors. Now, here I am, traveling through some of the most historical and influential cities of all time.

One thing that I’ve noticed is the sincere appreciation for philosophy among many Italian people. Each time I introduce myself as a Philosophy major, I’m greeted with "Che Bella!" (how beautiful) or "Bene!" They immediately ask me a series of questions, sparking some of the most memorable conversations I've had. Italian culture seems to really value the humanities and the arts, and I’ve found a new appreciation for the importance of philosophy within our education system and the world at large.

Rome will be very difficult to leave. My time here has been an incredible journey that I will never forget. I have learned more about the world, my professors, my friends, and myself than I could ever have imagined. Being abroad has given me the opportunity to reflect on my education and vocation, allowing me to move forward, confident with my decision to pursue a degree in philosophy. I cannot wait to return to Loyola with the knowledge and experience I have gained from my months abroad, and I know that my education will greatly benefit from it.

—MaryKate Bruek

College of Arts and Sciences names philosophy professor Fr. Thomas Regan as dean


Loyola University Provost John Pelissero announces that Thomas Regan, S.J., has accepted the university's offer to become the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Loyola Community,

On behalf of Father Garanzini, I am happy to announce that Thomas Regan, S.J., has accepted our offer to become the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Father Regan has been serving as the interim dean of the University’s largest college since June.

Following wide consultation within the College of Arts and Sciences, including conversations with department chairs, program directors, and the faculty and staff, it became clear that the college would be served best by the appointment of Father Regan, as he has demonstrated effective leadership and excellent management of the college this past year.

In addition to his role as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Father Regan will continue to hold an appointment as associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, serve as academic dean for St. Joseph College Seminary, and as director of the Jesuit First Studies MA program.

Prior to joining Loyola in 2011, Father Regan served in a number of administrative and faculty positions at fellow Jesuit institutions, including Fordham University, Loyola Marymount University, Fairfield University, and Boston College.

Father Regan also served six years (1991–97) as the national president of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Honor Society for all Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, and he is a past president of the Jesuit Philosophical Association. In 2003, he was appointed to a six-year term as provincial of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus. As provincial, Father Regan served on the Jesuit Conference’s Higher Education Committee, which entailed continuous dialogue with university presidents, other provincials, and the presidents of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the Jesuit Conference.

For more information on Father Regan’s background, including academic appointments, academic/professional offices and honors, education, and publications, click here.

Please join me in thanking Father Regan for his leadership of the college over the last year, and encouraging him as he continues to lead the University’s largest college.


John P. Pelissero, PhD

Kristen Irwin, PhD

By Corbin Casarez

Dr. Kristen Irwin joined Loyola as Assistant Professor in Philosophy this past fall, and she has already been an active member of the Department. She offered a workshop last semester for graduate students regarding professionalization and organized the History of Philosophy Roundtable (HOPR), a series of workshops in which faculty and students can present their work in progress. Her faculty page is here.

AGSP: Hi, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Though still only in your first year at Loyola, you have been contributing significantly to the climate and activity of the Department. We, the graduate students, are grateful for your active participation, and for this opportunity to get to know you better. Let’s start with your research interests: your faculty page indicates your interest in 17th and 18th century philosophy and your current work on Locke and Bayle. Would you care to elaborate on your interests?

KI: I am especially interested in 17th century philosophy. The vision of philosophy at that time was very big and systematic—attempting to present a unified whole, which is in contrast to the way contemporary philosophy tends to be compartmentalized into its various subdisciplines and topics. I liked that thinkers of that time combined rigor with both a deep and a wide scope of inquiry; they dabbled in every area.

AGSP: So those are the broad strokes, but what are you working on now?

KI: Currently I have five “balls in the air”—projects in progress: Leibniz on religious toleration; Pierre Bayle on moral knowledge (which I will be presenting to the American Society for 18th Century Studies and at HOPR); Locke’s religious epistemology; an Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Bayle; and Locke and Bayle on religious toleration, which I used for my job talk last year and am fine-tuning. These smaller projects are all related to two big projects which are my current long-term goals: a monograph on Bayle which treats him as an interesting philosopher in his own right, and not just as an interlocutor for more well-known figures; and a survey of arguments for religious toleration from the 17th century. (Though Bayle is included in this latter work as well, I am considering both the variety of conceptions of what constitutes religious toleration and the variety of grounds or reasons for advocating for toleration.)

AGSP: I can see how these larger projects run through and unify the others. Interesting issues! How did you come to be interested in philosophy and in 17th century philosophy in particular? Who or what were your influences?

KI: Well, dumb luck plays a large role in my story! I initially wanted to be a lawyer, but at my undergraduate institution there was no pre-law major, so my options were political science and philosophy. I didn’t enjoy political science, so I majored in philosophy. Between my sophomore and junior years, I interned for a law firm, which was really informative. It wasn’t that I didn’t like what they did; it was that I didn’t want to become that kind of person. So I decided to stay with philosophy.

I got into a PhD program with full funding (UC-San Diego), which was known for its strengths in philosophy of mind. I had a French minor already, and Don Rutherford was a well-regarded scholar, so I decided to focus on the history of modern philosophy. Don was tough but kind, and I respected his work ethic and intellect. Initially I was interested in Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, but Don taught me to see how interesting the 17th century was and how holistic its concerns were. I am still interested in Kant, and particularly in his notion of epistemic humility, which I think is closely related to skepticism of various kinds. Kant emphasized that there are limits to reason; this is something that I think most philosophers today agree on, though we disagree on what these limits are. This is an especially important issue to me because, in my experience, philosophers are particularly susceptible to epistemic pride!

AGSP: Thanks for that intellectual biography. Perhaps you could share more of your personal biography—how did you come to Loyola?

KI: In fall 2008, I entered the job market. I applied to eighty jobs. It was a trying ordeal, and included some of the types of experiences reported on the blog, “What Is It Like to Be a Woman in Philosophy?” (https://beingawomaninphilosophy.wordpress.com/). I didn’t exactly recognize how difficult the experience was at the time—I had just gotten engaged and was fresh from graduate school, so it wasn’t until I had some reflective distance that I realized just how difficult and often inappropriate parts of that process were. I did obtain a tenure-track position at Biola University, where I made very good friends. I had started a quarterly women’s philosophy night in graduate school, and so I continued this focus at Biola by starting up a “Professor Mommy” reading and discussion group. In addition to reading “Professor Mommy,” we brought in guest speakers and discussed strategies for how to flourish amidst the many commitments and dimensions of work and life.

The position at Biola required a 4–4 teaching load, which I enjoyed, but which really squeezed my time for research. In fall 2013, I submitted ten job applications, and it was a very different experience already having a job! I was in a less perilous position and experienced less desperation; it was a much healthier process. I also had a realization that life would be okay even if I didn’t have a job in philosophy. I would still be able to follow other passions, like possibly work for a non-profit fighting human trafficking—something that may pay less but which would both benefit both me and the organization. I did, however, end up getting this position at Loyola.

AGSP: Speaking of the trials of job searches… You have taken an active interest in providing resources for professional development for students. A somewhat common experience among graduate students in philosophy, it seems, is a certain disillusionment when the romantic ideals of the contemplative life, or of philosophy as an engaged way of life, is confronted by the contemporary reality of professional, academic philosophy. Do you think there is anything to the distinction between philosophy as a profession and philosophy as a passion?

KI: Oh yes. Some of the most cynical philosophers I have met were also initially some of the most idealistic. Academia is less romantic than we think, but it is a job. Being a professional is an aspect of life for anyone in white collar positions in the 21st century; higher education is not exempt. But this is not *necessarily* a bad thing. You can think about how to be professional without betraying who you are.

My experience on the job market informed my view of professionalization both positively and negatively. Positively, when I was entering the job market for the first time, UCSD provided a “job market shepherd,” someone who attended the APA (American Philosophical Association, where many job interviews take place) to support us applicants, and who helped us cope with and survive the process. I noticed along the way that there were norms associated with the job market that I was expected to follow, but which had not been made explicit. I guess the idea was to learn them through osmosis, which is not an optimal way to do it! Thus, negatively, I learned that the discipline needs to be better about making the expectations and norms of the process more explicit. People come from very different backgrounds, and just because someone is passionate about philosophy doesn’t mean that they are prepared for or familiar with the professional expectations of the discipline.

AGSP: So do you have any advice for passionate philosophers also aspiring to be professionals?

KI: Well, the big thing is to figure out who you are and how to communicate that to others. You don’t have to change your passions, but you do want to present a more polished version of who you already are. This is a techne, a skill you learn. You have to practice it in order to get better.

AGSP: Let’s switch gears and talk about your non-philosophical interests. What do you like to do when you’re not doing research, teaching classes, or fulfilling professional obligations?

KI: Well, I don’t have as much time for hobbies as I used to! But I have competed in triathlons, and I’m considering entering the Chicago triathlon in August. I enjoy cycling and running, and I do yoga twice a week. I enjoy the outdoors—I miss the beach, and being able to watch the sun set over the water.

I also have an almost-five-year-old son, Adam. On the “introvert/extrovert” spectrum, Adam is an “übervert”! Every day on the train we make a new friend. He’s very cheerful and energetic, and I really enjoy him.

David Schweickart, PhD


An interview by Lauren Dennis

Dr. David Schweickart is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He holds a PhD in Mathematics (University of Virginia), and a PhD in Philosophy (Ohio State University).

Professor Schweickart has taught at Loyola since 1975, including at the Loyola Rome Center several times. He has been a Visiting Professor of Mathematics at the University of Kentucky, and a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Schweickart was voted Faculty Member of the Year for 1998–99 by the Loyola University Faculty Council. He then served as a Humanities Representative on Faculty Council for ten years, 2000–2010.

Dr. Schweickart's primary areas of research are social and political philosophy, philosophy and economics, and Marxism. He also has major interests in feminist theory, existentialism, critical theory, and race and racism. His work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Slovak, Farsi, and Catalan. He has given presentations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, Venezuela, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Norway, the Philippines and China.

How did you become interested in social justice and involved in activism?

Exactly fifty years ago, in the spring of 1965, Fr. William Stickle, the pastor of the church I attended while a graduate student at the University of Virginia, went to Selma, Alabama to take part in the great civil rights march. Inspired by his example, I said “Sign me up” to a Harvard mathematician who was visiting campuses, recruiting math graduate students to spend the summer teaching at all-black colleges in the South. I was assigned to Miles College in Birmingham (known then in civil-rights circles as “Bombingham,” a reference to the church bombing in 1963 that killed four little girls, and the many other bombings of black homes and businesses in the city).

This changed my life forever. I was nearly killed there (I think—long story). I continued civil rights work when I returned to Charlottesville. Supported by my parish, I joined forces with a UVA janitor, one of his friends, and some other graduate students and organized a boy’s club for African-American kids. We met weekly, learned scouting skills and black history, and went on monthly camping trips—usually in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which weren’t far away.

After completing my degree and accepting a position in the math department at the University of Kentucky, I became involved in anti-war activities. I was almost arrested, along with Dr. Spock and many others while trying to shut down Washington D.C. (I avoided arrest by accident—another story. Thousands weren’t so lucky.) Then, while transitioning from mathematics to philosophy, I read Karl Marx. That too changed my life. “Philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways,” he wrote while still a young philosopher. “The point, however, is to change it.”

I’ve tried to do both—keep one foot in philosophy and one in activism. Shortly after coming to Loyola, I helped organize a campus chapter of Amnesty International. Shortly after the murder in El Salvador of three Maryknoll nuns and a churchwoman, the Loyola Organization for the People of El Salvador (LOSPES) was born. I was very much involved with LOSPES, assisting in the exposure of a Chicago “Red Squad” agent who had infiltrated our group. Amnesty and LOSPES occupied me for most of the 1980s.

During the 1990s I was active with CORAL, the Committee on Racism at Loyola. In 1997, I invited some volunteers from a new, all-volunteer organization based on the South Side to speak in my classes. They were impressive. My work with them has deepened over the years. I am still trying to both interpret the world and change it.

How do student activists fit into social justice movements? Is there anything special that student activists in particular can do to contribute to these causes?

All major social movements of modern times have involved students. Young people have often generated the most energy and taken the most risks. There’s a freedom you have as a college student that you’ve never had before. And, for some at least, there comes the realization that you can try to make a difference in the world. Acting on this insight can change your life. To be sure, student debt and precarious job prospects give this generation less freedom than my generation had, but it’s still a privileged period of life.

How can students relate what they are learning in their philosophy classes to social justice and causes they are passionate about?

What drew me away from Mathematics and toward Philosophy was my sense that philosophy dealt with “the big questions”—not how to prove esoteric theorems, but about ultimate reality, about what and how much we can know, and how we should live our lives, both individually and collectively. Issues concerning social justice map onto these fundamental questions. That’s certainly been my experience. Philosophy asks you to confront the uncomfortable fact that you were born and you will die, and there are but a finite number of years in between. It asks the uncomfortable question: what then should you do with those years?

You are organizing a Social-Political Documentary film series during this semester featuring a series of films that focus on student activism. Do you have a particular favorite article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to those interested in social justice and student activism?

Films that come to mind are several I’m showing (or have shown) in the film series: Freedom Summer, about the summer of 1964 in Mississippi, where three young civil rights workers were killed, and several documentaries about the anti- war movement of the 60s and 70s: The War at HomeHit and Stay, and The Weather Underground. As for books, I can tell you books that changed me: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Richard Wright’s Native Son, Karl Marx’s Capital, v. 1, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Most recently, Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. There are many, many more. Books matter a lot to me and have shaped the person I’ve become.

What philosophers and activists do you find inspiring?

The big three in my life who were both philosophers and activists, are Karl Marx, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Noam Chomsky has also been inspirational, and—I can’t stop thinking about her—Naomi Klein.

In addition to social justice, what are you passionate about?

This will sound odd, but I have to say it: my wife. We were married in 1966. (The year before she was with me briefly in Birmingham, the night we both—maybe—could have been killed.) I had no idea as to what was to come. At the time I was a graduate student in mathematics; she was a graduate student in chemical engineering—the only woman in the UVa School of Engineering. In those days (and maybe still) mathematicians thought they were smarter than everyone else, certainly smarter than engineering students. So, combining that arrogance with the gender and racial arrogance all too common at the time, I assumed that my little Filipina wife would readily acknowledge my clear superiority and follow me, wherever I should lead. (I cringe as I utter these words, but I’m trying for honesty.)

Little did I know that the woman I had married would become a leading feminist theorist, the editor of the National Women’s Association Journal, the director of the Asian-American Studies Program at Purdue University, etc., etc. It has been a roller-coaster ride. I had a lot to learn. All in all, a thrilling ride. Thrilling still.

Another passion: my eldest granddaughter, with whom I have been living since the day she was born, September 27, 2000. She’s a mixed race kid—African-American, Filipino and Caucasian—a perfect blend of genes from almost every continent, a beautiful blend recalling earlier phases of my life.

Patsy and I will be taking Lauryn and our other (soon-to-be) 14-year-old granddaughter for a hike this summer along the Camino de Santiago, in northern Spain, a pilgrimage route, an appropriate journey (we hope) for two young girls stepping into a new phase of life.


John F. Grant MD Endowment funds Lively Health Care Ethics Seminar


By Molly Clasen

Should patients have the right to refuse life-saving treatment? When can a doctor breach a patient’s confidentiality? Should a parent always have the final say in her child’s medical care? Today’s expanding medical field grapples increasingly with complex issues like these, making health care ethics one of the fastest growing fields in philosophy. The John F. Grant Seminar (PHIL 398/BIET 398) allows students to engage with critical topics pertaining to health care ethics, including gender and medicine, feminist bioethics, goals of medicine, and autonomy and consent. “The seminar combines philosophical concerns with a specific practical bent,” says Philosophy Department Chair Dr. Mark Waymack. “And because the class is capped at 15 students, we can have lively back-and-forth discussions.”

This course is funded by the John F. Grant, MD, Endowment for the Study of Health Care Ethics. Dr. Grant attended Loyola University Chicago and enrolled in various philosophy classes as an undergraduate. After serving as a medic in World War II, he returned to Loyola to earn his medical degree and went on to become a prominent cardiothoracic surgeon. He spoke often of how the lessons he learned in his philosophy courses influenced his medical career. His passion for medicine and philosophy compelled him to establish an endowment in 1999 to foster the study of health care ethics for future Loyola students. This endowment now funds an annual public lecture in Health Care Ethics, various awards for essay competitions in bioethics, as well as the guest speakers for the John F. Grant Seminar.

Faculty members invite three to five guest speakers each semester to expand on specific course topics. Discussions with visiting experts lead to fruitful discoveries for both students and lecturers. “I remember having a guest speaker once,” recalls Dr. Waymack, “who was a practicing, teaching, and publishing professional.  At the close of the evening, he told me that he had never before encountered such challenging questions during a presentation—even when presenting for medical students. The experience had actually made the guest rethink some of his positions!”

“Informed Consent in Medicine,” this semester’s John F. Grant Seminar taught by Dr. Pamela Lomelino, provides students with a general overview of informed consent. A diverse selection of guest speakers will participate, including Dr. Emily Anderson (assistant professor at the Loyola’s Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics), Dr. Timothy Buckley (physician at the Heartland Clinic), Dr. Katie Watson (assistant professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern), and Dr. Eric Chwang (assistant professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado). Dr. Lomelino hopes that the dynamic format will encourage students to contemplate medical and ethical issues long after the semester ends.  “I would like the students to take away fond memories of an inspiring course filled with insights about the complexities of informed consent in the medical context.”

The John F. Grant seminar combines rigorous class discussions with in-depth lectures from leading experts across disciplines. Whether listening to a doctor discuss treatment of vulnerable populations or writing an essay that debates using human specimens for medical research, students will ask difficult questions with no simple answers. After experiencing such an enriching learning environment, students just might discover an enduring passion for philosophy just as Dr. John F. Grant did over 70 years ago.

Joy Gordon, PhD


Dr. Joy Gordon's book, Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions (Harvard University Press, 2010)

By Corbin Casarez

This spring Dr. Joy Gordon joined Loyola as the Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J. Professor of Social Ethics. Her faculty page is here. The following is the second of a series of faculty interviews conducted by Corbin Casarez, Loyola Philosophy PhD student, for the Association of Graduate Students of Philosophy (AGSP) blog. For more information on AGSP, please view their official webpage or visit their blog.

AGSP: Welcome to Loyola Chicago! We’re certainly glad to have you here, and we’re equally grateful for your participation in our series of faculty profiles. So what brought you to Loyola University Chicago?

JG: I had heard wonderful things about the LUC Philosophy Department for many years. Two of my colleagues at Fairfield received their PhD here and had nothing but glowing things to say about the faculty and students in the department. I taught at Fairfield University for nearly twenty years, and while I really enjoyed it a lot, it’s very exciting for me to be in a department with a graduate program, and strong support for research.

AGSP: Well, we (the graduate students) are excited to count your expertise among the resources and support for quality research here. What have you enjoyed about Loyola in the short time that you’ve been here?

JG: The students in my graduate course this semester (Ethical Issues in International Relations) are just terrific. It’s also great to see that the department has a deep culture of collegiality. As I’ve been getting settled in over the last few weeks, I’ve been very appreciative of the many ways that my new colleagues here have reached out to make me feel welcome.

AGSP: So the Ellacuria Chair is reserved for an expert in Social Ethics, so we know your general area of specialization. But what are you currently working on and thinking about?

JG: I’ve been doing work on the ethical aspects of economic sanctions for a number of years. That’s turned out to be a useful context in which to approach a number of issues that I find compelling, such as thinking about the abuse of power within the context of international law and global governance. At this point my work is going in two directions. First, I want to do more fine-grained work on issues related to legitimacy and legality regarding the United Nations Security Council. But in addition, I’m working with scholars and institutions in Latin America to develop and publish more of their contributions to the field of international ethics.

AGSP: That reciprocal increase in accessibility—their research is able to enter into the currents of academic conversation and other researchers are able to learn the work that has already been underway—is fantastic! What a boon for all parties! I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about your intellectual biography: how did you come to these interests, and what are your influences?

JG: As an undergraduate at Brandeis, I was interested in philosophical questions within social theory: the concept of human nature in Marx and Freud, the debate over positivism in the late 19th century, the various conceptions of rationality employed by Weber. I also studied hermeneutics and the Frankfurt School a good deal. In law school, I tended to focus more on the theoretical aspects of my seminars, even in courses that were more concrete “black letter law” courses. In graduate school, I focused on political philosophy, and wrote my dissertation on Latin American political thought, drawing on both hermeneutics and the Frankfurt school.

AGSP: It’s interesting that you say you were interested in the theoretical aspects of your graduate work, yet your own research has very practical implications.

JG: In the course of spending time in Latin America, I became interested in human rights, and in particular the tension between economic rights and political rights. Economic sanctions provided a context that illustrated that tension very vividly. In the case of Cuba, for example, US sanctions cause enormous disruption and hardship to the Cuban population in regard to everything from lodging and transportation to food security. The reasoning is that this is in the interest of the human rights of the Cubans, since the purpose is to enhance their political rights. From there I ended up doing a great deal of work on the humanitarian impact of economic sanctions, primarily in Iraq, but also Cuba and Iran. Then, in the course of writing about the UN Security Council sanctions on Iraq, I also started to see new questions concerning global governance, and that’s what I’ve been working on recently.

AGSP: What is the most important thing that you hope students take away from your classes?

JG: Well, this sounds odd, but I guess I would say something like the “musicality” of a text. I’ve been teaching introductory core courses to undergraduates for many years, and every time I re-read the text before class, I’m always struck once again by the elegance of the argumentation. I’m thinking, for example, of the passage in Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” where he explains that law is fundamentally caught in a tension between the need to speak generally, and the certainty that speaking generally will always result in wrongs done to individuals; between the need for equity to address those individual circumstances, and the certainty that equity slides quickly into arbitrariness. Aristotle captures all of this, with clarity and elegance, within the space of a couple sentences.

AGSP: In an age where philosophy frequently is done in journal articles geared toward specialists, and thus with highly technical language and a certain “style” of academic writing, it’s nice to be reminded that philosophy can be beautiful as well as clear. Speaking of “musicality,” I understand you dabble in the sonorous arts…?

JG: I play folk music, with a little blues and jazz thrown in. I play guitar and banjo (clawhammer, not bluegrass). My friends and I have occasionally played gigs for (very small) audiences, but mostly I just get together with friends on the back porch or in someone's living room.

AGSP: Interpreting texts, interpreting instruments, interpreting the jam. Thanks for sharing with us!

Graduate student alumni spotlight: Kyle Thomsen

An interview by Lauren Dennis

Kyle Thomsen graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Doctorate in Philosophy in fall 2011 after writing a dissertation entitled“Giving Voice to the Vulnerable: Discourse Ethics and Amnesty for Undocumented Immigration.” Kyle is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. He recently visited the Philosophy Department to meet with graduate students and answer their questions about job placement and life in academia post-graduate school.

When did you discover your interest in philosophy?

I discovered my interest in philosophy junior year of college at Roanoke College. I was taking a Values class with Dr. Brent Adkins and felt particularly challenged by Spinoza’s Ethics. I followed that class up with a course on Contemporary French Philosophy, and then a Hegel seminar. The Hegel seminar was so difficult that I forced myself to choose between dropping the class and majoring in Philosophy. I feel like I made the right call.

Why did you choose to apply to and attend Loyola University's PhD Program?

I always wanted to teach and felt that pursuing a PhD was the best way to realize my dream. LUC’s strengths in Social/Political Philosophy and Continental Philosophy played to my interests. Everything just fell into place, and LUC felt like the best fit.

How did your research interests evolve during your time at Loyola?

In the beginning, I was focused on Deleuze and Foucault, but over time these interests were complemented by bioethics and discourse ethics. At this point, I am primarily focused on issues surrounding claims to political membership and the ways that Habermas’ theory of deliberative democracy is challenged by undocumented immigration. My experience in grad school was one of transformation: my interests changed a lot. If you had told me that I wouldn’t be writing a dissertation on Deleuze and Spinoza when I first arrived in Chicago, I would not have believed it.

How did Loyola's faculty help shape your path as a scholar and teacher?

The faculty shaped my path in more ways than I can mention. Every professor I worked for had a profound impact on my teaching, whether it was through grading papers for Dr. Hugh Miller or helping Dr. David Ozar with his professional ethics courses. I have to tip my hat to Dr. Jennifer Parks for helping to spark my initial interest in Bioethics. Dr. Crozier made an effort to encourage me to publish early, and with her help I was able to finish short pieces in AJOB [The American Journal of Bioethics] and AJOB Neuroscience. Dr. Ingram unquestionably had the greatest impact in on my development. While serving as my dissertation director, his calm guidance helped me craft a project which still serves as my primary research interest. I wouldn’t have achieved anything without the help of these professors and others.

Please describe briefly what the job placement process was like for you. What were the most exciting and most difficult parts of the process?

I would describe it as a “hurry up and wait” process. You panic when you realize how many applications you have to send out before a deadline, immerse yourself in the reams of material you are mailing, and then you sit back and anxiously wait to hear from someone. I was lucky to have a lot of help from the department, and things turned out alright when I got my first job offer. The most difficult part was the waiting game for sure. Honestly, the most exciting part was knowing that it was over. There are a lot of tough things you go through getting from your undergraduate degree to your first job after your PhD The placement process is one of the tougher experiences and I was one of the lucky ones.

What was something you wish you had known before starting the job placement process?

I wish that I had all of my materials ready before I went on the market. Scrambling to update a CV, create dummy cover letters, compile evaluations, request letters of recommendation, and write a statement of teaching philosophy at the same time may have contributed to my many gray hairs.

How did Loyola's graduate program prepare you for your current position of Assistant Professor at St. Francis?

LUC trained me to be a complete philosopher, a scholar, and a teacher. My development went beyond taking classes and writing research papers. It prepared me to challenge my own students and cultivate the same love of philosophy in them that was given to me during that Values class at Roanoke College. I owe a huge debt to everyone who helped me grow in my capacity as an instructor of philosophy. It really is a dream come true.

Mark Waymack, PhD


By Corbin Casarez

The following is the first in a series of faculty interviews conducted by Corbin Casarez, Loyola Philosophy PhD student, for the Association of Graduate Students of Philosophy (AGSP) blog. For more information on AGSP, please view their official webpage or visit their blog.

AGSP: Dr. Waymack, we’re really grateful that you have agreed to be our “guinea pig,” if you will, and be the first in what we hope to be an ongoing series. Let’s start with your intellectual biography: how did you come to philosophy, who or what were your influences, etc.?

MW: I was captivated by Philosophy in my freshman year of college. But because of interest as well as practicality, I also loaded up on Economics courses, winding up one class short of a double major. I did spend my junior year at the University of Edinburgh, which would have a lasting effect on my interests. After graduating with the BA, I was still ambivalent about the risk of Philosophy as a career, so I went to the University of Exeter to do an MA in Moral Philosophy by thesis and exam. This gave me a chance to write a thesis and try out graduate work in Philosophy. I loved it, so I returned to the U.S. to do the PhD at The Johns Hopkins University. At Hopkins I did a lot of grad seminars in Classics and embarked on a dissertation in Plato’s ethics, but I had a nasty falling out with my director. Ugh. So reaching back to my year at Edinburgh, I skipped a couple of millennia and delved into a dissertation on 18th century Scottish moral philosophy.

Dissertating, as graduate students discover, can be a lonely sport, and somewhat disconnected from everyday life. So while I was writing the second half of the dissertation, I wrangled my way into a relationship with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, particularly the Department of Family Medicine. Just before coming to Loyola, I split my time between the Philosophy Department at University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. The medical connection led to an article on ethics and geriatric medicine, and that evolved into a book on medical ethics and the elderly.

Once here in Chicago, I spent many years working with projects on the elderly, including nursing home work, as well as some 16 years doing various things with Children’s Memorial Hospital (primarily as a clinical ethics advisor and then as a member of the IRB)

AGSP: So what brought you to Loyola University Chicago?

MW: I joined Loyola in 1987, shortly after earning the PhD. I had done a dissertation in the history of ethics, but had developed a keen interest in applied ethics, especially bioethics. I guess you could say that ethics was my driving passion in philosophy. Loyola University was one of the few Philosophy Departments at that time that was truly committed to both ethical theory and what we called applied ethics. So that Jesuit commitment to ethics and justice as an institution winds up being a big part of why I wound up here at LUC. Applied ethics is now far more widely accepted and valued than it was in 1978, but LUC still holds a significant commitment to values teaching and inquiry, more so than many universities.

AGSP: Tell us a bit about your primary areas of research.

MW: My research has always been ethics. But it has been split between history of ethics, both about Plato and especially the 18th century, as well as applied ethics concerns.

With regards to the history of ethics, I have had a particular interest in how past philosophers understood what it meant to do moral philosophy. What exactly is the subject matter, and what is the appropriate methodology? For example, in the 18th century there was a concerted move to try to approach moral philosophy as analogous to the empirical sciences. Ethical theory should then be based upon “evidence” and should be cleanly intellectually organized, almost like Newtonian Physics. What then becomes of the relationship between the “is” and the “ought”?

As for the applied field, I have worked on a variety of projects in medical ethics and philosophy of medicine, including justice questions and clinical questions. But I have most consistently been interested in issues of ethics and aging, with medical and social issues in mind.

AGSP: What is it like serving as Chair of the Department of Philosophy?

MW: I quite like teaching, especially these days since I get to do so little of it. Most of my time at work is now spent in the role as Chairperson. There is lots that I quite dislike about that job—the spreadsheets, the endless reports, etc. On the other hand, it is a chance to do what I can to help nurture the department as a whole. So with my very limited power and resources, I try to figure out how I can best sustain morale and promote the kinds of commitment and activities that keep the department thriving and happy.

AGSP: Thanks for your honesty. It is easy to imagine that interacting with students is more frequently rewarding than the everyday duties of serving as Chairperson, so let’s focus on teaching for a moment. What is the most important thing that you hope students take away from your classes?

MW: For a recent Introductory course I taught (PHIL 181: Ethics), one student complained in the evaluations that I asked too many questions and did not lecture enough. My response when I read that was that I had messed up somehow—not that I had asked too many questions, but that somehow that particular student just didn’t get what my central aim for the course was. For those Core courses, I try to sensitize students to the variety of ethical challenges that they may face in their lives, and then to get them to appreciate how some philosophical skills can help them work their way through those challenges. That requires some “content,” of course, but it also requires some active commitment and practice on the part of the student.

The 300-level courses are, of course, a different sort of thing. Here undergraduates get to see what delving more deeply into an academic discipline can look like. And they get to stretch themselves in ways that they have not been intellectually challenged prior to becoming a Philosophy Major (or Minor).

Graduate education is, of course, much more about professionalization. Yes, there is a lot of subject matter to master, but there is also the crucially important goal of leading graduate students into truly appreciating scholarship and critical thought.

AGSP: Let’s shift gears—how do you like to spend your time when you’re not doing philosophy (or filling out spreadsheets and reports)?

MW:Well, there are those two books (and a few articles) in what we might call “applied aesthetics.” By that I mean the book on Scotch whisky and the one on Bourbon. And yes, I occasionally make wine, beer, and cider at home.

But I did pick up bagpipe lessons starting five years ago, and I try to spend about five hours a week working at that. It’s exercise, it’s relaxing, but it still requires some brain-work. And yes, most summers I now attend about five Highland festivals and participate in the solo bagpiping competitions.

AGSP: Your home brews are quite popular at Department events, and we got to enjoy the sounds of the bagpipes floating over Lake Michigan at the beginning of the year barbecue. Thanks for sharing your skills with us! Thanks also for your time to help initiate our series of faculty profiles by answering these questions. In conclusion, what is one thing that you wish everyone knew about you?

MW:I do wear many hats, so I am not certain there is much that I really want “everyone” to know about me! I did grow up in the 1960s in the South. So my speech cadence can be a bit slower than is the norm around here, which sometimes unsettles people talking to me. I am not one prone to filling space with a constant stream of chit chat; so I am comfortable with stretches of quiet, which also unsettles some people. And I am generally not inclined to dictate judgment to other people. There are few things in life less well-received than unsolicited advice.

Unfortunately, those character traits are sometimes read as signs of arrogance or aloofness, which I don’t think is the “real” me.

Student spotlight: Andy Kondrat


An interview by Lauren Dennis

Andy Kondrat is a current student in the Philosophy PhD program. Andy is currently working on his dissertation, entitled “Moral Distress and the Health Care Organization." He currently works as a bioethicist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. 

When did you first become interested in philosophy?

I first became interested in philosophy through my introductory class taught by Joe Westfall when I was a sophomore at Boston College. I was actually scared of philosophy; it was one of the last classes on the core curriculum that I took. Westfall showed me how challenging the topic is and how rewarding learning philosophy is when one meets that challenge. That class is still one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, and I thank Westfall for making the course challenging and engaging at the same time.

Describe your current work as a bioethicist. What types of projects are you working on and what do you enjoy most about the work?

At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where we are fortunate enough to have an ethics department called the Donnelley Ethics Program. Through the Donnelley Ethics Program, we do a variety of different things: case consultations, patient evaluations, education for staff, presentations to clinicians and researchers, and more. Currently, I’m building educational programming to help staff become better prepared for patient discharges.

I enjoy the case consultations the most, because they offer opportunities to meet with clinicians and patients. In these case consultations, I am able to apply my philosophical background and training work in a real life context. It is a fun challenge to use my philosophical expertise in a way that non-philosophers will understand and find useful in their medical practice.

How have faculty and your graduate program here at Loyola helped you develop as a bioethicist?

There is no question that I wouldn’t have this job if it weren’t for the faculty at Loyola. I didn’t have any bioethical training before graduate school. Drs. Ozar, Parks, Waymack, and Wike helped pave the way for me academically. It was due to their recommendation that I was able to get a clinical ethics internship at Lutheran General Hospital with Dr. Clint Moore III, a Clinical Ethicist and Loyola graduate program alum.

Broadly speaking, the entire faculty trained me on how to think critically about a variety of topics. That ability to analyze many different issues in a variety of ways provides a solid foundation for me to do my job well.

Do you have a favorite article, book, or movie that you could recommend to those interested in bioethics?

Bioethics is a large field, ranging from abortion to end-of-life decisions; access to health care to stem cell research, and everything in between. This is fantastic because it means there is something to interest everyone. It also means that what interests me may be boring to someone else. I specialize in clinical ethics, and I recommend Eric Cassell’s The Nature of Suffering for a look into that world. But if you just open the newspaper to the “health” section, you’re bound to come across a bioethical issue worth mulling over.

Other than philosophy and bioethics, what are you passionate about?

I am passionate about the same things everyone should be passionate about: friends, family, good food, good music, and the Oakland A’s.

Hanne Jacobs, PhD


An interview by Lauren Dennis

Dr. Hanne Jacobs is an Assistant Professor in her ­­­­fifth year of teaching philosophy here at Loyola University. She earned her PhD from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium in December 2009 with a dissertation on Husserl and Leibniz.

Her teaching and research interests include the fields of twentieth-century European philosophy, phenomenology, early modern philosophy, and questions concerning personhood and self. She is currently working on a book on Husserl’s phenomenology of self-constitution.

How did you come to study philosophy, and what did you study?

After reading some philosophy in high school in Belgium, where I grew up, I decided to pursue a degree in philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Although I took classes in all the major areas in the history of philosophy, I quickly developed a specific interest in phenomenology, the philosophical movement started by Edmund Husserl around the turn of the twentieth century. The Institute of Philosophy in Leuven houses the Husserl Archives, which contain more than 40,000 manuscript pages written by Husserl. After completing a B.A. and an M.A. in Leuven, I started working at the Husserl Archives transcribing Husserl’s manuscripts from stenographic shorthand to standard German while conducting research on Husserl’s relation to Leibniz for my doctoral dissertation. I eventually completed my dissertation and published an edition of some of Husserl’s lectures on the history of philosophy soon after coming to Loyola.

What are your main research interests?

I have two main research interests. On the one hand, I have an abiding interest in understanding Husserl’s phenomenology in its historical context. For example, I am currently interested in understanding how Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy relates to developments in nineteenth-century psychology and neo-Kantian philosophy. On the other hand, I am also committed to showing how some key ideas from the phenomenological tradition are salient and philosophically compelling today. I am specifically interested in showing that a Husserlian account of personhood can contribute to contemporary discussions on topics such as personhood, deliberation, and rationality.

Other than philosophy, what are you passionate about?

When not reading philosophy, I very much enjoy reading literature, traveling, cooking, and observing the strange behavior of my cat, Ziggy.

What is your favorite aspect of studying philosophy?

Like most people in the profession, I am generally interested in much good work in philosophy. Of course, we all have to specialize at some point, and I am glad that I get to spend my time reading and talking and writing about phenomenology and contemporary accounts of personhood. However, I am also glad to be part of a department with strengths in many areas in the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophy, which means that I can talk about many other things as well!

Graduate student alumni spotlight: Maggie Labinski


Dr. Maggie Labinski graduated from Loyola University in 2014 with her PhD in Philosophy. She is now an Assistant Professor at Fairfield University. Her research interests include Feminist Philosophies and Early Medieval Philosophy.

When did you discover your interest in philosophy?

I first encountered philosophy as an undergraduate. I attended an all-women’s university in Wisconsin called Mount Mary. I remember sitting in my First Year philosophy course and thinking to myself, “I have no idea what’s going on, but I don’t want it to stop!”

Why did you choose to apply to and attend Loyola University's PhD Program?

I was largely drawn by the plurality of the department. The professors at Loyola are experts in Historic, Continental, and Analytic philosophies. I was excited by the prospect of being exposed to such philosophical diversity, and I believe that it has broadened the way that I approach my research.

How did your research interests evolve during your time at Loyola?

When I began at Loyola, I was divided about my research. On the one hand, I hoped to continue to explore early medieval philosophy—especially the works of Augustine. On the other hand, I was finding myself increasingly drawn to the social/political frameworks of feminism/s. The scholarly mentoring I received from the faculty was incredibly helpful; they advised me to consider the moments of overlap that might exist between the theories of the past and the needs of the present. Such conversations ultimately played an integral role in the development of my dissertation.

How did Loyola's faculty help shape your path as a scholar and teacher?

The professors at Loyola were instrumental in helping me to unpack the relationship between my scholarship and my teaching. For example, Dr. Jackie Scott visited my classroom and encouraged me to see teaching as a natural extension of my research. This eventually led to several co-authored projects with my students. Last year, a student and I traveled to Washington DC and presented a paper that examined the role of race/ethnicity in the construction of classroom ‘safety’ at the Humanities Education and Research Association.

What was the process like of writing your dissertation, "Augustine and Feminisms: A Dialogue about Education"?

What surprised me the most about the dissertation was how much I ended up enjoying the process. Initially, I found it very tempting to approach the dissertation as one last academic hoop to jump through. However, by the time I finished writing, I felt like I had not only been able to deepen my knowledge about a philosophical area that I loved. I had also been able to develop my own “voice” as a researcher. I credit this entirely to my director, Dr. Vicki Wike. Dr. Wike taught me to see the relationship between philosophical rigor and creativity. She encouraged me to follow “the text” but not in such a way that leaves behind the social/political world. It is a way of researching that I now try to pass on to my own students.

What advice would you give to a PhD student beginning his or her dissertation?

Loyola is an incredibly supportive place to write a dissertation. I think the best advice I could give would be to take advantage of this support. Join a student led Writing Accountability Group. Participate in the Summer Dissertation Boot Camp sessions hosted by the Graduate School. Ask faculty where they do the most writing on campus. Ask students about the pedagogical style of their dissertation directors. For me, the dissertation was very much a community effort, and I continue to use many of the strategies I learned along the way in my current research.

How did Loyola's graduate program prepare you for your current position of Assistant Professor at Fairfield University?

One the most valuable things that Loyola’s program taught me was how to think of myself—including my research and my teaching—as one part of a wider department. For example, I was advised to keep in mind the ways in which my courses might compliment a department’s broader curriculum. I was also encouraged to think about co-authoring articles or participating on conference panels with my colleagues. There is a lot about graduate school that can be very isolating, and the pressure to “publish or perish” certainly doesn’t help. However, most departments need faculty who can contribute to a community that is already well in motion. By giving me the space to think about these kinds of questions, Loyola made my transition to Fairfield University much smoother.

What are you passionate about besides Philosophy?

I was born in Wisconsin, and I think my “passions” reflect this. In my spare time I enjoy watching the Green Bay Packers, bottling homebrew, and beating my partner at Ping Pong.

Ethics and Bioethics Bowls: giving students lasting skills, happy memories


Monica Finke, Philomena Panagoulias, and Mary Kate Brueck at the at the 2014 National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference

By Molly Clasen

Loyola’s Ethics and Bioethics Bowl teams offer unique opportunities to gain lifelong skills while having fun and competing across the country. Many students report that the experience improves their reasoning and oral presentation abilities more than any other class or extra-curricular activity at Loyola. From making stronger arguments to thinking more critically about social justice issues, there is no limit to how team members grow as academics and young professionals.

What are Bioethics Bowl and Ethics Bowl?

Combining intellectual rigor with the thrill of competition, Ethics and Bioethics Bowl teams participate in discussions about pressing social issues. Over twenty teams compete at regional competitions,, and thirty-two teams compete at the national level. Each team presents a case that poses an ethical dilemma. Bioethics Bowl cases focus specifically on health care related topics, while Ethics Bowl cases cover a broader scope of topics, including medical, journalism, public policy, military, and environmental issues. Teams respond to questions about arguments presented and comment on other teams’ cases, fostering a lively atmosphere for thoughtful exchanges. “I expected something very formal, like debate, when I joined,” says undergraduate Bioethics Bowl team captain Monica Finke. “But the presentations are much more conversational, because you don't know in advance what questions others will ask. This is one of my favorite elements of the competition.”

Loyola’s teams have a successful history of competing. Faculty advisor and co-coach Dr. Jennifer Parks thinks our students make especially sophisticated arguments. “Our teams have excelled because instead of developing arguments that they think will be popular with judges, they develop nuanced approaches that reflect their actual viewpoints.” Earlier this year, the Bioethics Bowl team placed first against Georgetown at the 2014 National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference, which Loyola hosted. Mary Kate Brueck, a member of the Bioethics Bowl team since 2013, says it was a very proud moment for everyone involved. “We worked so hard, and it was exciting to see it pay off.”

Gaining Lifelong Skills, Values, and Community

Bioethics and Ethics Bowl teams cultivate skills such as the ability to make strong arguments and perform in high-pressure situations. “These skills have served many of our team members who have moved on to careers in law, medicine, and academia,” says Dr. Parks. “One student has even become an Ethics Officer for Chicago Public Schools!” Mary Kate Brueck, who plans to become a Bioethicist, knows that she will apply what she has learned after graduation. “I am now able to determine the best method for approaching complicated issues.”

The cooperation essential to succeeding at Bioethics Bowls and Ethics Bowls creates a strong sense of community. “Students can only succeed when they all work together,” says Dr. Parks. “As a result of that collaboration, they make long lasting friendships. These friendships extend to other teams as well. Our teams have made friends with other team members from across the country.” Ethics Bowl and Bioethics Bowl teams have travelled all over the United States—from San Antonio, Texas to Tallahassee, Florida, to Washington D.C.—with all expenses paid by the university. “Those trips are great bonding experiences,” says Dr. Parks.

Bioethics Bowl and Ethics Bowl help students situate their opinions about social justice issues within an existing academic framework. “I always tell people that they don't need to come in with a strong background in ethics,” says Monica Finke. “When I first joined Ethics Bowl, I knew hardly anything about the major ethical theories, but my participation on the team gave me so much knowledge.” Many team members find that their fascination with a topic deepens as they immerse themselves in research. “I am surprised by how much the cases draw me in,” Mary Kate reflects. “I never expected it to be my favorite activity on campus, but it is.”

Bioethics and Ethics Bowl teams offer students an exciting way to participate in the Loyola community. They cultivate lasting skills that translate to the classroom, the workplace, and beyond. If you are interested in joining the Bioethics or Ethics Bowl Teams, please contact Dr. Jennifer Parks at jparks1@luc.edu or Sarah Babbitt,sbabbitt@luc.edu. You may be surprised by how quickly you want to be involved. According to Dr. Parks, “Once students come to practices or experience a competition, they’re usually hooked!”

She opens students’ minds to the world of philosophy


Jacqueline Scott is one of four professors who received Loyola’s Excellence in Teaching Freshmen Award. Here, she talks about her love of teaching, how she got interested in philosophy, and why she likes to power walk for 26.2 miles.

How did it feel when you heard you won this award?

I was really excited when I found out. It was a complete surprise. I love teaching, and teaching first-year students is fantastic. Most of them have never had any philosophy before, so some of them say, “I don’t even know what this stuff is.” But others say, “This is awesome.” We expect a lot of them, so it’s good to hear that my students thought that I had done a good enough job and was deserving of this award.

What classes do you teach?

At the Core level I teach ethics, but I also teach 300-level classes for majors and minors such as Nietzsche, Chinese philosophy, African-American philosophy, Race Theory, and some graduate classes as well.

Have you done any research projects while you’ve been a professor?

I’ve co-edited a book. I’ve published about a half-dozen articles and given a lot of talks on them. I’m currently working on a book manuscript on Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th century German philosopher.

How did you get interested in philosophy?

Most people in the United States don’t have philosophy classes before college, and that was the case with me. I was actually required to take a philosophy course for my undergraduate degree, and it just blew my mind. I was never good at memorizing little facts—they just don’t stick in my head. But with philosophy, you didn’t have to memorize little individual facts. You had a whole theory to think about. I could just see the logical connections.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

I love having students come in with either no preconceptions or with negative preconceptions about philosophy and then being able to get them to recognize their skills. So that all of a sudden they are excited about philosophy and everything that is telling them, “You’re not going to get excited,” or “You’re not going to like this,” it all vanishes. Even if it’s just for a few moments, that is incredibly satisfying.

What is your biggest challenge with being a teacher?

I think it’s that our culture doesn’t really read books as much anymore. Instead, we tend to want things to be in little snippets, like a tweet. I think a lot of the good parts of life are long, hard ideas. And so the challenge is trying to get students to realize, “Yeah it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”

Do you have any hobbies outside of the classroom?

I just finished training for my 10th marathon, so that takes up a lot of my time. I don’t actually run—I power walk—so it’s not as hard on my knees and psychologically it’s not as tiring for me. My fastest time is 5 hours, 43 minutes; my slowest was 6 hours, 20 minutes. I also have an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old, so they keep me busy with all of their activities.

About the professor

Hometown: Grew up in the Chicago suburbs and now lives in the city.

Professor at Loyola since: 2000

Courses taught: Ethics (Phil 181), 19th Century Philosophy (Phil 306), Race Theory (Phil 389 and Phil 468), Asian Philosophy (Phil 335), Nietzsche (Phil 422).