Muhlenburg University

Newsletter Issue #145, August, 2015

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

AL-DELTA(0104) [Samford University; advisor, Dennis Samson] The Samford chapter met regularly throughout the past school year and considered a variety of topics, ranging from discussing chapter goals for the year, participating in Preview Day (a day to recruit high school students to Samford and the Philosophy department), attending a Major Fair, planning a lecture series, and presenting awards.  Dr. Gina Gschwandtner delivered the Annual Philosophy Lecture, and chapter members joined with a Phi Kappa Phi panel for a discussion ‘‘What Is a Liberal Arts Education.’’  Alyssa Gallas and Nathan Yoquez were elected as co-Presidents, and Isaac Johnson received the Lunceford Award as the outstanding graduating senior.

AR-GAMMA(0403) [University of Central Arkansas; advisor Jesse Butler] President: Rhett Melton, Vice-president: Jessica Avant, Secretary: Timothy Havens. President Melton gave a presentation on a thought experiment he had devised at our meeting on April 21. The experiment dealt with Kantian ethics and was part of our Philosophy Research Forum.  We plan to continue the Forum in the fall term.

CA-LAMBDA(0511) [Loyola Marymount University; advisor, Brad Stone]. NEW ADVISOR. Welcome back, Brad.

CA-PI(0516) [Chapman University, Orange; advisor, Virginia Warren] Officers for last year: President: Timothy Seavey, Vice- president: Natalie Lewis, Secretary: Ashleigh Dennis.  Natalie Lewis will be President for the new year with other officers to be elected. After a few years of inactivity, the Chapman chapter of Phi Sigma Tau is growing again, and Chapman has a rapidly growing philosophy club that stirs interest in the honor society. The chapter continues the philosophical discussions cut short by members’ classes, explores philosophy of mind through Alan Watts videos, and prepares for guest lectures—all over pizza and healthy snacks.      The highlight of the year was a new member retreat to Disneyland for a full day of rides, scavenger hunts, delicious food, and philosophical discussions about escapism. It was a wonderful bonding opportunity for the officers and incoming members.

CA-RHO(0517) [San Diego State University: advisors, Steve Barbone and Mark Wheeler] The April meeting was one of a series to prepare for an academic philosophy conference to be held in October; the conference will be sponsored by the SDSU Phi Sigma Tau chapter. A matter of concern was getting a policy waiver request so that we could have more than the usual three rooms. There will be two different conferences, the SDSU student conference and the SoCal Conference. We discussed what kind of cover letter to prepare to describe the different conferences. Also, we considered how we might advertise the conference and increase the number of participants; there is a possibility that the papers might be published.

DC-ALPHA(0901) [The George Washington University; advisor, Mark Ralkowski] On April 10, we met to induct eight students into the honor society. Several faculty members also attended the meeting.

DC-GAMMA(0903) [American University; advisor, Amy Oliver] NEW ADVISOR.

FL-IOTA(1009) [Jacksonville University; advisor, Matthew Groe] President: Hannah Clay, Vice-president: Mae Davis, Secretary: Jayla Shelton. Our induction meeting began with an introduction of the new members. The chapter roll was signed by the new members; we then voted unanimously for the eight new chapters and elected new officers.   Events for this school year included      an Ethics of Genetics Panel Presentation (November 4, 2014) and a Climate Change Panel Presentation (April 13, 2015).

GA-THETA(1108) [Valdosta State University; advisor, Christine A. James] NEW  ADVISOR.     Welcome back, Christine.

GA-IOTA(1109) [University of West Georgia; advisor, Walter Riker] NEW ADVISOR. We met on December 2 with our new advisor to discuss the sorts of topics and activities we might like to discuss or pursue as a chapter. We also discussed recruiting for the chapter. On February 4, we met to discuss student research and focused on presentation of work at conferences and submitting work to undergraduate journals.

IL-DELTA(1404) [Lewis University; advisor, Arsalan Memon] NEW ADVISOR.

KY-ALPHA(1801) [Bellarmine University; advisor, Evanthia Speliotis] NEW ADVISOR.

LA-GAMMA(1903) [Xavier University of New Orleans; advisor, Thora Bayer] At our second meeting of the spring term, we inducted one more member into the chapter and talked of his plans for applying to medical school.

MA-ETA(2207) [Bridgewater State University; advisor, Aeon Skoble] At the February meeting, members discussed the lack of new members and ways to make the society more visible. That included making flyers, posters, and announcements. Members decided to make an announcement in each class. The meeting then turned to more philosophical matters, and we considered what we believed made a fact a fact. Some members took a skeptical approach and thought that a "good enough" kind of statement was the best that could be reached. Others felt that the only things one might know were those which were known objectively, the conclusion all      finally reached. Then the discussion turned to some of Gottlob Frege’s  ideas about symbolic logic, specifically his attempts to define numbers and his ideas that intrigued members.  Members also discussed Bertrand Russell’s paradox and whether Russell’s set which includes all sets except itself was a proper way to attack Frege’s theory. No conclusion, but a quite interesting debate! Lastly, members talked about symbolic logic and how it affects the way members have viewed philosophy since taking the course. Some thought the course helped them to understand complicated arguments while others thought it only taught them how to recall logic formulas.

At the March 5 meeting, members discussed the similarities between the philosophies of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche; members considered whether people could make broad moral claims or whether such claims would all be subjective.   A discussion of free will was also part of the discussion, though no consensus was reached.   The March 12 meeting looked at the watch-maker argument for God. Members considered several of the conclusions which might be drawn from the argument as well as the limitations of the argument.   Kant’s deontology was the subject of the March 19 meeting. Members considered the ‘‘Supposed Right to Lie’’ paper and possible objections to Kant’s position. This led into a discussion of consequentialism in ethics, particularly problems consequentialism might raise for medical ethics. Euthanasia was the topic of the March 26 meeting, whether euthanasia is ethical      or  not.  Members concluded that voluntary euthanasia was acceptable, but problems arose when that might be applied to children. That led to a discussion of parents’ roles in the care of very small children.

MI-MU(2312) [Alma College; advisor, Nicholas Dixon] President: C. J. Oswald, Vice-president: Alek Scully. On March 12, the Mu chapter of Phi Sigma Tau co-hosted a Panel Discussion on Free Speech and Expression with the Alma College Political Science Club. Thirty to forty people attended. Panel members established a tenuous consensus on what free speech is and explained the continuing importance of the debate for philosophy and political science. Topics discussed included the current controversy in Oklahoma about the SAE fraternity, Mill’s argument for freedom of speech, the specific limitations on speech (hate speech and other limitations), the varying philosophical and political perspectives on the issue, and how free speech may harm or benefit democracy.

The April meeting considered ways to increase attendance at Phi Sigma Tau meetings and make the chapter more visible on campus. Because of conflicting schedules, it has been difficult to schedule meetings so that all members could attend; a possible solution might be to schedule dinner meetings every week or two for a more regular schedule. Members also considered the possibility of more events, particularly movie nights or events such as the one with the Political Science Club. Attempting to have guest speakers or presentations might also help. Members also considered attending local conferences, resurrecting the Facebook group, and an online blog where philosophy students might post their current papers.

MO-IOTA(2609) [Conception Seminary College; advisor, Shalina Stilley] NEW ADVISOR.

MO-XI(2614) [University of Missouri-St. Louis; advisor, Waldemar Rohloff] NEW ADVISOR. President: Laura Miller, Vice-president: Dale Mathis, Secretary: Daniel Pritt, Treasurer: Nathan Howard.  At our first official meeting, we discussed requirements for induction, a tentative induction schedule and eligibility requests from Student Life. We also considered several general housekeeping chores, chapter funding, member dues, and a meeting with Student Life.  The update of the Philosophy Department website with Phi Sigma Tau featured is in progress. Also, our members discussed the Spring 2015 Study Jam. Then we engaged in a philosophical discussion of current course studies.

NE-BETA(2802)  [Creighton University; advisor, Michael Romero] NEW ADVISOR.  Welcome back, Michael.

NJ-KAPPA(3110) [The College of New Jersey; advisor, James Taylor] President: Jacob Carino, Vice-president: Kimberly Feldman, Secretary\Treasurer: Brian McGowan.

NJ-MU(3112) [Montclair State University; advisor, Dorothy Rogers]  President: Anthony Celi, Vice-president:  David Glinbizzi, Secretary: Sean Reo. At our February meeting, we made plans for the spring conference to be held on April 18. Presentations are to be 10-15 minutes and followed by Q&A. We have three people who will definitely make presentations and several who may. We will go to classes and announce the conference; in the intermediate and advanced classes, we will recruit participants. In addition, we are asking professors to attend the conference and inviting students from the William Paterson chapter to attend.

NY-ALPHA(3301) [St. Lawrence University; advisor, Laura Rediehs] The New York Alpha chapter had an active spring term. The      major event was an interdisciplinary faculty panel. Participants discussed ethical question arising from the U.S. prison system; a number of faculty across disciplines (English, philosophy, history, chemistry, and psychology) either teach in nearby prisons or engage in research related to prisons.  The event was well attended and the discussion that followed the faculty presentations was excellent. Officers for last year: President: Mariah Dignan, Secretary: Ryan Ficano, Treasurer: Yichi Zhang.

NY-THETA(3308) [Nazareth College; advisor,  Adrian Arellano] Our chapter planned a movie night to see Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Then we discussed an article, ‘‘Being There: Heidegger on Why Our Presence Matters.’’ The discussion of Heidegger included a discussion of what it means to be human and why biological definitions are too limiting and do not recognize our place among other beings. We discussed the potential for interacting with things and other people, that who you ‘are’ includes who you ‘want to be,’ and how you project views of yourself as well as how you interpret your past.   We also discussed facticity and the things outside of our control that influence who we are and can be. We noted that Heidegger, in contrast to Descartes, offers a holistic view relating us to things in the world. Our members also discussed Heidegger’s Dasein, whether we can live an authentic life, and that human beings die but also contemplate their own mortality and comprehend death.

NY-NU(3313)  [Fordham University; advisor, Joseph Koterski, S.J.]  Dr.  Daryl Tress, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham, delivered the feature lecture at the induction ceremony. The topic was ‘‘Attending ‘The School of Athens’.’’ Matthew J. Schwalbenberg made the student presentation at the ceremony.

OH-TAU(3619) [Walsh University; advisor, Bradley Beach] President: Isabelle Lahaie, Vice-president: Allie Spurrier, Secretary:      Nancy Shumar. During the meeting, members discussed sending philosophy majors to national conferences, participation in the Walsh Annual Philosophy and Theology Symposium, collaborating with the Theology National Honors Society/Ex Nihilo club, and collaborating with nearby Phi Sigma Tau chapters. A service project was to be determined.

PA-THETA(3908) [Grove City College; advisor, Chris Franklin] NEW ADVISOR.  When the meeting was called to order by chair, Ethan Deitrich, members discussed The Forum, our publication for philosophy papers written by Grove City College students.      We approved the design for the publication and set a submission deadline. All officers will read and evaluate the submissions, and the entire chapter will meet on April 14 to select the papers that will appear in the journal. Members cannot vote to accept their own paper, however. Members discussed a meeting to elect officers for next year, and posters for the philosophy discourse were distributed to members so that they could be hung up in various campus locations. Four papers were accepted for publication, and two students were given an opportunity to revise and resubmit papers. Next year’s officers are President: Elliot Neff, Vice-president: Tucker Sigourney, Secretary: Mary Leone, Treasurer: Matt Freiling.

PA-CHI(3922) [University of Pittsburgh; advisor, T. J. Berry] NEW ADVISOR.

PA-ALPHA BETA(3926) [Lehigh University; advisor, Robin Dillon] During our spring meeting, we re-registered the chapter with Lehigh, signed up for the Club expo to spread word about Phi Sigma Tau on campus, planned a spring induction ceremony, and ironed out judging details for presentations for a campus Ethics Symposium.

TX-DELTA(4404) [Texas State University at San Marcos; Advisors, Amelie Benedikt and Rebekah Ross] NEW ADVISORS. Former advisor of the San Marcos chapter, Dr. Jo Ann Carson, was the advisor for a team of three students who won two first place trophies in the International Business Ethics Case Competition. Two students, Alejandro David Tamez and Coleen Watson, are Phi Sigma Tau members, and Coleen is now a Full-Time M.A. Lecturer at San Marcos. Competition included teams from England, Canada, France, Hungary, and Spain as well as from the United States.  The team won both the 30-minute and the 10-minute presentations at the graduate level on the topic, "Is That Blood on Your Shirt? Exploitation in Garment Manufacturing."

In addition, members of the San Marcos chapter of Phi Sigma Tau led weekly discussions for an open forum, Talk of the Times, an activity of the American Democracy Project at Texas State University; forum topics include current events and issues. Weekly discussion subjects during the spring term have been Bad Medicine, Work, Nature, Voices of Freedom, and Turing and Computing Machines, among others. Leaders have included Anthony Megie, Sean Daniel Johnson, Christopher Odgers, Charles Sarkiss,      Shaula Rocha, Blake Edwards, Amelie Benedikt, and David Tamez.

TX-EPSILON(4405) [University of St. Thomas; advisor, Terry R. Hall] Marilyn Sidelhy Diaz was recognized as the outstanding philosophy graduate at the April 23 induction ceremony at the University of St. Thomas.          Graduating philosophy majors were also recognized at the ceremony.

TX-MU(4412) [University of Texas at Arlington; advisor, Kenneth Williford] Our chapter held a joint induction with the University of Dallas; see next.

TX-OMICRON(4415) [University of Dallas; advisor, Philipp W. Rosemann] Our induction ceremony was held on April 9 at the University of Texas at Arlington. New members from the University of Dallas and from the University of Texas at Arlington were inducted into Phi Sigma Tau in a joint ceremony of the two chapters. Dr. Philipp Rosemann, chair of the University of Dallas department, delivered the first UD-UTA Phi Sigma Tau lecture under the title ‘‘Tell Me How You Read, and I Will Tell You Who You Are.’’ In the lecture, Dr. Rosemann looked at the relation cultures have to the ways in which their texts are ‘read’ (i.e., oral, scroll, book, e-book).  A dinner and social finished off the night.

VA-GAMMA(4703)  [James Madison University; advisor, Anne M. Wiles] James Madison chapter members met on March 26 to discuss Albert Camus’ book, The Stranger, with about ten members present. President Jack Gardner and Vice-president Kyle Perez led the discussion and gave all members present an opportunity to share their views of the book. On April 21, our chapter combined with the Theta Alpha Kappa (theology) chapter for an induction.  Dr. Danielle Widmann Abraham, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the Philosophy and Religion Department, gave a lecture titled ‘‘The Emergence of the Islamic State.’’ A dinner banquet was held after ceremony. On April 24, Phi Sigma Tau sponsored an event titled, ‘‘A Conversation about Joseph Pieper’s The Platonic Myths.’’ This event was led by Dr. Wiles and Ellen Stringer, an English/philosophy student.  On April 24, Dr. Wiles and Phi Sigma Tau members met at Jack Gardner’s home for a potluck to socialize with new members and say goodbye to graduating members.

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

WA-ALPHA(4801) [Central Washington University; advisor, Cynthia Coe] NEW ADVISOR. Welcome back, Cynthia.

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Special Ethics Issue

From time to time, we hope that we can present special issues of Dialogue on various topics. Our first attempt at that is a special issue on ethics. We want to thank all those who contributed to this special issue, especially for their patience as we worked through the process of creating a special issue. As many of you know, Phi Sigma Tau has no paid staff, so all work, whether for a special issue or not, has to be done when volunteers are available to do that work. Particular thanks are due to our editor, Dr. Steve Barbone, for his extra work on this issue. We also need to thank Dr. Lee Rice, President of Phi Sigma Tau, for envisioning a special issue at all. Actually, there was a time some years ago when Phi Sigma Tau published three issues of Dialogue in a single school year, but two issues were collapsed into a double issue to lessen the work load of the volunteers. Thanks to all who contributed articles or work for this special issue! Following is a list of articles for the ethics issue.

The Just War Theory Tradition and the Iraq War.

  J. H. Bennett, Simon Fraser University.

Trans Autonomy: The Right to Personal and Perceived Gender Identity.

  Zachariah Dozier, Central Washington University.

Genetic Mapping May Throw Ethics Off Course.

  Shari Esquenazi, Albany Medical College.

Do We Have Reason to Be Moral?

  Kurtis Hagans, James Madison University.

The Ethics of Actions via Avatars.

  Dominic Jones, Georgetown University.

Why Self-Imposing Risk Is Morally Justified in War: Justly Being Prudent (Part One).

  Peter J. Joyce, IV, Pacific Lutheran University.

Authenticity and its Application as a Moral Ideal.

  Derek Lee, George Washington University.

In Defense of the Natural Order: The Question of Demarcation, the Answer of Respect for Life.

  Anthony Lozito, Marquette University.

Necessity of a Rawlsian Political Scheme.

  Kevin Mager, Eastern Michigan University.

Virtues and Reasons: Solving the Problem of Priority.

  Malcolm Morano, Fordham University.

Alienation and Subjectivism in Consequentialist Theories.

  Nathaniel Tailleur, Cornell University.

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October Dialogue

Dr. Barbone is at work on the October issue of Dialogue, and we expect to have another successful year with our journal. However, again, I remind you that the success of our journal depends upon students who are willing to submit their hard work for publication.      Dialogue publishes both original articles and book reviews, and any student, whether a Phi Sigma Tau member or not, is eligible to submit work to the journal. Please consider polishing that favorite paper and submitting it to Dr. Barbone for consideration. His email address is [email protected], and submissions by email are encouraged.  Faculty, if you see solid student papers, please bring the publication possibility to the attention of your students and encourage them; it is a great satisfaction to see your student’s paper appear in the journal, and publication may be used as an incentive to other students to submit work.

Last year’s journal was a success.  We were able to print twenty-two articles written by students as well as several book reviews.      Several years ago, we changed the binding on the journal so that we could print more articles and provide more publication opportunities for students. One of the main goals of Phi Sigma Tau is to promote discussion of philosophical topics at colleges and universities, and our journal is one way we try to accomplish that goal. You may note that approximately 70% of our last year’s budget was for Dialogue costs; the Executive Council of Phi Sigma Tau considers the journal a very high priority.   A number of chapters hold meetings to discuss publication, and members submit their work to their colleagues for comments and suggestions. Please consider discussing your work with colleagues and faculty with a view to joining the larger discussion with colleagues from other schools.  In a few instances, we have published articles and replies; you might want to consider that as a possibility.

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From the Executive Secretary

Last year was another good year for Phi Sigma Tau.  For only our fourth year, we inducted more than 1200 students. Initiations ran rather late last year, perhaps because of the winter weather in many parts of the country. Now we look forward to another solid year for our society.  I have attached a brief financial report below, and you can see that the society is in solid financial shape. Nearly 95% of our income is from student initiation fees, and though we do have an occasional unsolicited donation from a friend or a member, our income, as you can see, is almost entirely from fees. We were approached by a company wanting to make a donation in exchange for access to our members and refused the offer; our membership list is not available for any commercial enterprise.

The work of our society continues to expand. During the past year we have had a request for a chapter in Nigeria. Though the Executive Council was not willing to charter a chapter for an education system so different from that in the United States and Canada, President Lee Rice suggested that we consider an affiliate relationship with schools outside the United States and Canada; affiliate membership would not entail granting Phi Sigma Tau membership to students at those schools but would allow a relationship between such a school and the Phi Sigma Tau community; communication between students in different countries would be encouraged, and students of affiliates, along with other students who are not Phi Sigma Tau members, would be allowed to submit work for possible publication.

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2014-2015 Financial Report

(Category) (Dollars) (Percent)
Initiation Fees
Dialogue subscriptions
NAC dues
Charter Fees 500.00 1.58
Gifts 0.00 0.00
Retained Earnings 160,639.36 not included
Other income 485.00 1.53
Total 192,290.86



Supplies 409.30 2.09
Printing costs 1,469.68 7.50
Postage 2,812.27 14.35
Dialogue printing 13,656.52 69.71
ACHS dues/exps 485.00 2.48
Website 192.00 0.98
Other expenses 567.00 2.89
Total 19,591.77 100.00



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.