Muhlenburg University

Newsletter Issue #142, August 2014

Newsletter Email version of the current newsletter (includes contact emails for chapter advisors.)

CA-ALPHA(0501) [University of the Pacific; advisor, Ray Rennard] NEW ADVISOR.

CA-THETA(0508) [University of San Diego; advisor, Steve Tammelleo] NEW ADVISOR.

CA-OMICRON(0515)  [California Polytechnic University, Pomona; advisor, Dale Turner] Several members of the chapter attended the APA convention in San Diego.  On May 13, the chapter had a fundraiser at Pieology; the business donated 15% of their profits to the chapter. The chapter also plans a student-run conference for the fall quarter of 2014-2015 where a few students can present papers.

CA-SIGMA(0518) [California State University Bakersfield: advisor, Jacquelyn Kegley] NEW CHAPTER. The California Sigma Chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, one of our  newest  chapters,  conducted  its  installation  and induction  ceremonies  on  May  30,  2014.  Dr.  Paul Newberry was the installing officer, and the advisor, Dr. Jacqueline Kegley, was installed as the advisor for the chapter.  The instructors of philosophy attended to show their support for the chapter. At the ceremony, the Greek words were read by Maria Paleologou for proper pronunciation.   President     Robynne Herron, Secretary/Treasurer Brandi Armendariz, and Vice President Sheena Abrena read their respective parts for the candidates. Dr. Kegley and the officers welcomed the new members.

DC-ALPHA(0901) [The George Washington University; advisor, Mark Ralkowski] We met on April 18 to induct eight new members into the chapter; several faculty members attended the ceremony.  We concluded with a discussion of an election of officers for the chapter.

FL-IOTA(1009) [Jacksonville University; advisor, Matthew     Groe] President: Ryan Dougherty,   Vice- president: Noah Marcus, Secretary: Jayla Shelton, Treasurer: Mae Davis.  At our April 19 meeting, we inducted two new members, collected money for the chapter, and voted to approve several new chapters of Phi Sigma Tau.

GA-BETA(1102) [Emory University; advisor, Frederick Marcus] The Georgia Beta chapter continues to benefit from a generous donation from Ronald and Patricia Nicholson. As our central program, we sponsored a monthly Philosophy Circle, open to all undergraduates, during which time a faculty member addresses a small group of students about a topic close to his or her own heart. The year’s topics included Existentialism as a Way of Life, What is Enlightenment? Jazz Improvisation and the Structure of Society, Are Moral Values Relative? Eros Ethics, and Beauty and Morality in Kant’s Critical Philosophy.  Each session fostered a lively philosophical discussion between professors and students.

In addition, our chapter continued to host informational sessions to aid qualifying philosophy majors writing honors theses.  Each session, in which thesis advisors offered useful tips and guidance, corresponded to a particular phase of writing. We also hosted a viewing of the film Close Up, followed by a discussion led by a member of the philosophy faculty and a member of the film studies department.  The interdisciplinary discourse enriched the screening of the film.

On March 27, the Emory chapter held our eighth annual induction dinner which also served as the Departmental Honors Dinner.  All Phi Sigma Tau members and inductees, as well as the entire faculty, were invited. Emory Professor Michael Sullivan gave the keynote address, ‘‘Justice, Pragmatism and Progress.’’ Finally, our chapter has continued to maintain a website for those seeking more information about Phi Sigma Tau and upcoming events.

IL-BETA(1402)  [Wheaton College; advisor,  David Fletcher] The Wheaton chapter continues to enjoy the participation of a significant number of students and faculty.  Our members had the opportunity to meet and hear a number of speakers hosted by the department this past year.  Speakers included Dr. Merold Westphal (Fordham University), Dr. Jon McGinnis (University of Missouri), Dr. Richard C. Taylor (Marquette University), Dr. Luke Yarbrough (Saint Louis University), Dr. Tony Steinbock (Southern Illinois University), Dr. George Sher (Rice University), and Dr. Cornel West (Union Seminary). Students have been meeting regularly under student leadership, presenting and discussing student papers.

IL-ZETA(1406)  [University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign; advisor, Shelley Weinberg]  President elect: Joseph A’Hearn.  On  April 29, our chapter elected officers and planned the last meeting of the school year, a brown bag lunch with guest, Professor Sasha Newton. Our discussion centered on Sarah-Jane Leslie’s YouTube Video, ‘‘Should We Burn the Armchair: Armchair vs. Experimental Philosophy  Methods.’’ Armchair philoso-phizing means theorizing without going out and collecting data. This is what philosophers have traditionally been thought of as doing, relying on a priori reasoning to analyze philosophical issues. ‘‘Experimental philosophy, called x-phi for short, is a new movement that supplements traditional tools of analytic philosophy with the scientific methods of cognitive science. So, experimental philosophers actually go out and run systematic experiments aimed at understanding how people ordinarily think about the issues at the foundations of  philosophical discussions.’’ (Yale website).

We considered whether philosophy requires that we go out and gather information. Does polling give us real data that will help solve problems? Are philosophers equipped to run experiments?  What questions would benefit from experimental philosophy?  Are there problems with armchair philosophy?  X-phi may help philosophers to become aware of biases, but it also may be very close to psychology.

MD-EPSILON(2105)  [Mt.  St.  Mary’s  University; advisor, Michael Miller] NEW ADVISOR.

MA-ALPHA(2201) [Clark University; advisor, Judith DeCew] NEW ADVISOR.

MI-KAPPA(2310) [Hillsdale College; advisor, Donald A. Turner, Jr.]  President: Michael Pope, Vice-president: Edward West, Secretary: Matthew O’Sullivan, Treasurer: Branden Graham.

MO-ALPHA(2601) [Lindenwood University; advisor, Joseph Steineger] NEW ADVISOR.

MO-MU(2612) [University of Missouri-Columbia; advisor, Andrew Melnyk] NEW ADVISOR. Christopher Lenz (Vice-president) and Aaron Arinder (President) discussed new membership outreach, new leadership, the organization of the spring term’s meetings, and the content of the meetings. During the term, Christopher and Aaron will discuss professional-level works in philosophy by our faculty members with several non-members of Phi Sigma Tau and watch debates between professors of philosophy on YouTube in order to maintain interest in philosophy on campus. They are recruiting members for the chapter.

NJ-KAPPA(3110)  [The  College  of  New  Jersey; advisor, James Taylor] At our May 1 meeting, former president, Yale Weiss, gave a speech and handed over the presidency to Jacob Carino who was sworn in.  After chapter business, we discussed the philosophy of education. Our new Vice-president will be George Thai, and Kimberley Feldman will be our Secretary/Treasurer.

NY-GAMMA(3303) [SUNY at Oneonta; advisor, Jean- Paul  Orgeron]  We  began  our  March  meeting  by introducing the new members who were interested in joining our chapter. The induction was held on April 25. We discussed several fund-raising projects for the term: Wheelchair Basketball (perhaps postponed because of time constraints), an iced tea and lemonade project (in place of the coffee and hot chocolate in the winter), and perhaps selling pizza and baked goods outside some of the bus stops in the evenings.  Our first April meeting included a discussion of the Philosophy Conference coming up the next week; we need volunteers for the registration table. We also asked people to donate books for the book drive that will be held at the Philosophy Conference. We talked about our induction ceremony and the reception that would be held at Dr.  Orgeron’s afterwards.  At our second April meeting, we discussed our bylaws to be sure that we agreed about them.

NY-THETA(3308) [Nazareth College; advisor, Adrian Arellano] Our Nazareth College chapter held its April 2 meeting in the GAC PHL Lounge. The topic of the day was school and its role in our lives.  We used Simone Weil’s book as the basis of our discussion and considered whether school could teach morality.  We  considered whether school work can teach us a work ethic, make us better human beings, which character traits are desirable, and similar things.  We pointed to service learning as a great example of moral learning.  This led into some of the major questions in ethics, such as whether there are universal moral principles, whether sacrificing for the greater good is moral, and whether people are the product of their environments.  We  concluded that universal morality does exist, that it can be known, and that it is reinforced through education.

NY-KAPPA(3310) [Siena College; advisor,  Paul Santilli] NEW ADVISOR.

NY-NU(3313) [Fordham University; advisor, Joseph Koterski, S.J.]  Dr. Reed Winegar, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, spoke on ‘‘On Grace and Dignity’’ at our induction ceremony.   Alexis Carra was the student presenter at the ceremony.

NY-OMEGA(3324) [Niagara University; advisor, Alex Bertland] NEW ADVISOR.  (Actually, previous advisor back. Welcome back, Alex. Ed.)

NC-EPSILON(3405) [University of North Carolina at Asheville; advisor, Duane Davis]At the induction ceremony on 11 November, six new members were inducted and officers were elected.  Kyle Cavagnini was elected President, Hallie Banish was elected Vice- president, and Courtney Miller became the new Secretary.

ND-ALPHA(3501)  [University  of  North  Dakota; advisor, A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone] On October 24-26, 2013 five members of the University of North Dakota chapter attended the 51st Annual Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy Conference in Eugene, Oregon.  The students made the trip with financial support from the Provost’s Intercollegiate Academic Fund and the Student Organization Funding Agency.  Students attending were Michelle Bonapace-Potvin (President), Kyle Novak (Secretary), Carlie Hughes (Treasurer), Josh Thornton, and Cory Remington.  These students were also able to attend various panels on a variety of topics.  Three of the students (Michelle, Kyle, and Josh) will be returning to Oregon to present papers as part of the 18th Annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference.  Michelle’s paper is ‘‘To What Extent Does a Citizen Employing Political Bounded Rationality Affect a Democratic Political System as a Whole?’’     Kyle’s paper is ‘‘An Argument for a Phenomenological Conception of Truth,’’ and Josh’s paper is ‘‘Addiction and Being.’’

OH-EPSILON(3605) [University of Dayton; advisor, Myrna Gabbe] NEW ADVISOR.

PA-ALPHA(3901) [Muhlenberg College; advisor, Thaddeus Robinson] NEW ADVISOR.  Five new members were inducted into Phi Sigma Tau at our March 20 ceremony. Dinner was served after the initiation.

PA-KAPPA(3910) [Misericordia University; advisor, Melanie Shepherd] NEW ADVISOR.

PA-TAU(3919) [University  of  Scranton;  advisor, Matthew Meyer] President: James Gillespie, Vice- president: Dominica Bianconi, Secretary: James Walsh.

PA-ALPHA BETA(3926) [Lehigh University; advisor, Robin Dillon] Chapter members revised the requirements for membership in the Lehigh chapter, posted a Phi Sigma Tau flyer with next semester courses, and planned an induction ceremony for 22 April 2014. Five new members were inducted at the initiation ceremony.

RI-ALPHA(4001) [Providence College; advisor, Anthony Jensen] The Providence chapter inducted 17 new members, and they, along with four inductees from last year, have been active in promoting philosophy through-out the College.  The chapter held movie nights, major/minor career days, graduate school information sessions, and five intercollegiate talks by guest speakers. One of the chapter’s new initiatives is to collaborate with nearby Brown University’s  philosophy  department. Several of the Providence members have participated in Brown’s talks and club activities. The advisor says, ‘‘I’m proud to say that the Alpha Chapter of Rhode Island is a vibrant and growing community.’’

TN-BETA(4302) [Carson-Newman College; advisor, John McClellan] NEW ADVISOR.

TN-EPSILON(4305) [Rhodes College; advisor, Pat Shade] NEW ADVISOR.

TX-GAMMA(4403) [Sam Houston State University; advisor,  Maria Botero: University of Texas at Tyler; advisor, R. Stephen Krebbs] NEW ADVISOR.

TX-XI(4414) [University of North Texas; advisor, Michael Thompson] NEW ADVISOR.

TX-OMICRON(4415) [University of Dallas; advisor, Philipp W. Rosemann] NEW CHAPTER.  At our installation, Dr. Rosemann gave the opening remarks, and Dr. Kenneth Williford, chair of Philosophy  and Humanities at the University of Texas Arlington, installed our chapter.  (Thanks are due to Daniel Matamoros who suggested that the University of Dallas should have a Phi Sigma Tau chapter--ed.) The inaugural group of officers for the chapter was composed of Daniel Matamoros (President), Charles Archer (Vice-president), Jude Galbraith (Secretary), and Harris Smith (Treasurer).

VA-GAMMA(4703) [James Madison University; advisor, Anne M. Wiles] About 50 to 60 students attended the March 27 Philosophers Talk About Philosophy event. The talk was titled, ‘‘How Philosophers Use Words,’’ and the two speaker were Dr. Daniel Flage and Dr. Patrick Fleming, both professors in the philosophy department at James Madison University.    Both Dr. Flage and Dr. Fleming spoke about the use of different philosophical languages and whether or not it is possible to effectively communicate with scholars from different disciplines and fields of study. As with most philosophical matters, there was no clear answer, but the discussion prompted further questions by both students and professors in attendance.

On April 3, the chapter hosted another Philosophers Talk About Philosophy event; this event was co-sponsored by the Foreign Languages Department and was titled, ‘‘Violence and Some Philosophers.’’ Both Dr. Wiles (advisor for the chapter) and Dr. Jude Dougherty spoke. Dr. Wiles spoke about three different  philosophers’ responses to violence (Socrates, Plato, and Boethius), and Dr. Dougherty, visiting from the Catholic University of America, spoke about Maimonides on Free Will. Dr. Pia Antolic-Piper, a professor at JMU who specializes in Medieval Philosophy, moderated.

The last of our Philosophers Talk About Philosophy series was held on April 11. Dr. Andrea Veltman and Dr. Mark Piper, philosophy professors at JMU, spoke on ‘‘Autonomy, Oppression, and Gender.’’ Each had written chapters for an eponymous book that they had edited. Dr. Veltman discussed the relationship between autonomy and work, while Dr. Piper examined the various philosophical approaches for raising a fully autonomous daughter. Students illustrated their interest in these topics both during discussion prompts within the presentation and during the Q&A session afterwards.

The next Phi Sigma Tau event will be the annual banquet, and there may be a potluck on May 1 for students and faculty of the Philosophy and Religion department.

VA-ETA(4707)  [Old Dominion University; advisor, Robyn Bluhm] NEW ADVISOR.

VA-KAPPA(4710)     [Lynchburg     College;  advisor, Stephen Dawson] We inducted three new members into the Lynchburg College chapter.  Following the induction ceremony, the new  members met together with the philosophy faculty for dinner at Milan Indian Cuisine. One of the highlights of the meal was Dr. Thomas C. Brickhouse’s reminiscences of what influenced him to make philosophy his life’s vocation.

WA-ALPHA(4801)  [Central Washington University; advisor, Matthew Altman] NEW ADVISOR.

WA-BETA(4802) [Gonzaga University; advisor, Daniel Bradley] NEW ADVISOR.

§   §   §

From the Executive Secretary

This last year was a difficult year for the eastern half of the United States. While looking at school websites, I saw several informing people that the school was closed for weather reasons. Consequently, a number of schools had to modify schedules in one way or another. The western half of the country did not have that kind of weather problem, but scorching heat and drought will be a problem for many.  The number of initiations for Phi Sigma Tau dropped this year by about a hundred (from 1255 down to 1171), or something less than 7%.  The drop may have been because of weather problems.  However, last year was still one of our better years in terms of new members. Several chapters became inactive over the school year. Currently, we have 165 chapters that are active, while 85 are inactive for a variety of reasons.  In some instances, advisors have retired or moved, and no new advisors have been appointed. In other instances, there has been a lack of interest or lack of qualified students. I suspect that in some instances the inactivity has been due to the weather problems experienced by some schools; loss of days of school tightened schedules and caused some activities to be cancelled.  Advisors of chapters, inactive or active: please encourage your qualified students to become active in the local chapter or to resurrect an inactive chapter.

We chartered eight new chapters during the school year. We have new chapters at Lehigh University, Mercyhurst University, Baldwin Wallace University, The University of Dallas, Montclair State University, Millikin University, California State University at Bakersfield, and Southern Connecticut State University.  Several of these chapters are already active and have initiated new Phi Sigma Tau members.  Welcome to all these new chapters.  Several chapters have prepared petitions for the new school year. We have new petitions from  DePaul University, Indiana University Southeast, and California State University at San Bernardino.   A number of schools have  written expressing interest in a chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, so during the new school year we will probably charter several more chapters.

Our journal continues to flourish because of student contributions.  Students, please consider submitting your best work to our editor, Dr. Steve Barbone ([email protected]).  Advisors, please encourage any students who have written outstanding papers for you to submit their work.  Membership in Phi Sigma Tau is not a requirement for publishing a paper in Dialogue, so please encourage any student who submits a publishable paper to you; each student who submits a paper that is published will receive ten copies of the issue. In addition, we publish book reviews in the journal, and students may want to begin a publishing career by writing a book review.  Reviewers receive five copies of the issue in which the review appears (as well as getting to keep the book--a nice fringe benefit of reviewing). A list of recent books available for review is printed in the April issue of Dialogue, and books are sent out on a first-come, first- served basis.  Students, if you do request a book, you might request two in case one has already been sent. All book requests and all papers should be emailed to Dr. Barbone at the email address listed.

During past school years, several chapters planned conferences and invited students from other schools to participate; if advisors send me notices of next year’s conferences and flyers advertising them, I will be happy to forward the notices to all Phi Sigma Tau advisors. Please encourage students  presenting  outstanding  papers  to consider submitting those papers to Dr. Barbone for possible publication.  Some chapters have had ongoing programs with speakers addressing chapter members and other interested students.  Please let me know of such activities; I can include the name of the speaker, the title of the presentation, and perhaps a bit about the topic in the Newsletter if I am provided the information.

Phi Sigma Tau operates under the auspices of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS), and ACHS encourages honor groups to co-ordinate activities with other honor groups. If your chapter plans activities with other groups, please let me know about such activities.  Activities might include induction ceremonies for more than one society, joint meetings with Phi Sigma Tau chapters at other schools, joint volunteer activities, and similar projects.

On behalf of the Executive Council of Phi Sigma Tau, I would like to wish all of you, students and faculty, a great year. Chapter secretaries, please send me reports of your activity so that I can include some mention of your chapter’s activities in a subsequent Newsletter.  Our next Newsletter is planned for November, and we send out a third Newsletter in March.

§   §   §


International Honor Society in Philosophy

Dr. David E. Gibson, Humanities Division

Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy

Malibu, CA 90263-4225

[email protected]


Newsletter A listing of email addresses for chapter advisors is available in the email version of the current newsletter.