Muhlenburg University

Newsletter Issue #151, August, 2017

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

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

CA-KAPPA(0510) [Santa Clara University; advisor, Lawrence Nelson] NEW ADVISOR.

GA-BETA(1102) [Emory University; advisor, Frederick Marcus] The Emory University chapter continues to benefit from a generous donation from Ronald and Patricia Nicholson. On April 6, the chapter held its eleventh annual induction dinner in conjunction with the departmental honors dinner. Professor Marta Jimenez delivered the keynote address, ‘‘Can We Be Good People without Being Good Citizens?  Aristotle on the Private  and Public Dimensions of Virtue.’’ The chapter also held the second annual Emory Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. The Conference included undergraduate presentations and a keynote address by a senior faculty member. The Conference worked closely with the Emory Philosophy Review, an undergraduate journal in its third year of publication. The chapter also continued sponsoring its monthly Philosophy Circles; in these sessions, open to all undergraduates, a faculty member addresses students about a topic close to his or her own central interests. This year’s topics included ‘‘Einstein on Mathematics and Reality,’’ ‘‘Existentialism as a Way of Life,’’ ‘‘Eros Ethics,’’ ‘‘Reading Kant for the Present,’’ and ‘‘Well-Being: Pluralism and Naturalism.’’ Each session provided a lively philosophical discussion between professors and students. Finally, the chapter has continued to offer sessions on writing honors theses and also maintains a website for those seeking more information about Phi Sigma Tau and upcoming events.

GA-DELTA(1104) [Mercer University; advisor, Rosalind Simson] In the fall semester, three of our Phi Sigma Tau philosophy majors made work- in-progress presentations on their senior theses. Each spoke about 15 minutes and then took questions. In the spring term, our chapter hosted a discussion with Professor Adam Ragusea of  Mercer’s  Center  for  Collaborative  Journalism  on  the  topic,  ‘‘Objectivity  in  the  Media.’’  Both  events were well attended and featured lively philosophical conversations.

GA-ETA(1107) [Georgia Southern University; advisor, William Eaton] Co-Presidents: Matthew Howard and Davis Roberts, Secretary: Melissa Ambrose, Treasurer: Sandra Posick, Executive Member: Jo Elizabeth James.

GA-IOTA(1109) [University of West Georgia; advisor, Rosemary Kellison] NEW ADVISOR.

IL-IOTA(1407) [Lake Forest College; advisor, Rui Zhu] NEW ADVISOR.

IN-GAMMA(1503) [Franklin College; advisor, Nicole Dular] NEW ADVISOR.

LA-GAMMA(1903) [Xavier University of New Orleans; advisor, Thora Bayer] Our small chapter has had one of its best years ever with the induction of several members to the chapter.   At our April meeting, we inducted another new member and discussed his impending graduation in May.

MD-THETA(2108) [Notre Dame of Maryland University; advisor, Maeve O’Donovan] At our induction on May 10, outgoing officers conducted the ceremony, and the following members were elected the officers for the new school year. President: Robyn Githui, Vice-president: Sierra Farrare, Secretary: Kashay Webb.

SD-BETA(2402) [St. Olaf College; advisor, Danny Muñoz-Hutchinson] NEW ADVISOR.

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

MO-NU(2613) [University of Missouri-Kansas City; advisor, Adrian Switzer] NEW ADVISOR.

NJ-IOTA(3109) [William Paterson University of New Jersey; advisor, Pete Mandik] NEW ADVISOR. President: Raymond Ackerman, Pro-tem officers: Angie Matthews and Ryan Plateroti--both agreed to serve until they graduated. On December 3, we hosted a local conference which featured five speakers. In March we held a meeting to discuss appointment of new officers to fill the vacancies left by the recent graduates.

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

NY-MU(3312) [Manhattanville College; advisor, Paul Kucharski] President: Caroline Timmings, Secretary: Jasmine Quetell.  Our  chapter  held  meetings with the Philosophy Club every Wednesday at 7 p.m. The year’s topics included ‘‘What Does It Mean To Be Good and Why Does It Matter?’’ ‘‘Are We Morally Obligated to Avoid Watching Violent Movies and TV Shows?’’ and ‘‘What Are Some Existential Issues for Millennials?’’ On September 23 our officers met and planned ‘‘Philosophical Connections’’ lectures for the semester. Tentative plans were made for the third annual Manhattanville College undergraduate philosophy conference in the spring. During the fall we began the public lecture series, ‘‘Philosophical Connections,’’ with Professor Joseph Fasano, a poetry professor at Manhattanville with an undergraduate philosophy major from Harvard; he spoke about meaning in poetry from the perspective of Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language. In November, Professor Marie George of St. John’s University in Queens, spoke on the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligent life. She argued that it is not very likely that extraterrestrial intelligent life exists in the universe and then considered the ethical and epistemological implications if such beings do in fact exist.

At our January 27 meeting, we decided to postpone our conference because of time constraints and problems in getting adequate campus space for the event. But in February, for the second time, our New York Mu chapter, along with the Manhattanville Philosophy Department, hosted the annual Westchester High School Ethics Bowl. Abbi Parenteau, a member of Phi Sigma Tau and a recent Manhattanville Alumna, organized the event. High- schoolers from all over Westchester came to compete in the Bowl and discuss hypothetical ethical dilemmas. Siobhan Nash-Marshall, chair of the philosophy department, noted that "it is extraordinarily important and exciting to see young minds tackle difficult moral problems." Current Manhattanville philosophy majors, as well as friends of the department, served as moderators and judges.

In February, Professor Marco Liviero from Eton College in England and a friend of Professor Nash-Marshall took time from his New York visit to lecture on Oscar Wilde and the relevance of Wilde’s word today.

Each year during the spring term, the Manhattanville philosophy department hosts the Mary T. Clark Lecture; the lecture draws a number of alumni, students, and faculty.   This lecture is a living tribute to Mary T.  Clark, a distinguished Augustine scholar who taught at  Manhattanville for over fifty years. Professor Nash-Marshall said, ‘‘Mary Clark was and is a constant source of inspiration for me.  She had a dream: we who share it  remember that when we get together to honor her with what she loved best: the truth.’’ This year’s lecture was given by Mary Ellen Bork and entitled ‘‘Finding a Place to Stand in an Age of Discontent.’’

Our advisor, Professor Kucharski, participated in the Philosophical Connection lecture  series  with  a  discussion  of  the  purpose  of  college  honor codes.   He argued that honor is neither an outdated nor a problematical concept. Rather, a proper sense of honor is precisely what can address certain ills of modern society. He then turned the discussion to the possibility of implementing an honor code at Manhattanville College. The final event in the lecture series was given by Professor Paul Ellis, a member of the math department. He lectured on Hilbert’s Hotel and the different sizes of infinity as well as on the importance of defining one’s terms.   Finally, we held a second Ethics Bowl for high school students in April.   [Perhaps it is easy to see why the undergraduate conference was cancelled for lack of time.--ed.]

NY-NU(3313) [Fordham University; advisor, Joseph Koterski, S.J.] The featured speaker at our Induction Ceremony on April 18 was Dr. Diana Heney,  assistant professor of philosophy.   Her topic was ‘‘Logic, Love, and Conversation.’’   The student presentation was by Maria C. DeCasper, one of  our inductees.

NY-CHI(3322) [Lehman College, CUNY; advisor, James Mahon] NEW ADVISOR.

ND-ALPHA(3501) [University of North Dakota; advisor, David Lawrence] NEW ADVISOR.

OH-TAU(3619) [Walsh University; advisor, Joe Vincenzo] At the February meeting, chapter members discussed the upcoming induction  ceremony and the criteria for candidates who would be invited to join. Chapter President, Katie Paul, discussed the possibility of holding an event sponsored by Phi Sigma Tau. The event would be an organized debate between a philosophy faculty member and a member of the science faculty. There was interest in a bioethical debate about the definition of death. Finally, chapter members were encouraged to attend the April Phi Sigma Tau conference and submit work for possible publication in Dialogue.

PA-XI(3914) [Bucknell University; advisor, Maria Balcells] NEW ADVISOR.

PA-PI(3916) [King’s College; advisor, James Ambury] NEW ADVISOR.

RI-DELTA(4004) [University of Rhode Island; advisor, Douglass Reed] NEW ADVISOR.

TX-NU(4413) [University of Houston—Downtown; advisor, Joseph Westfall] President: Courtney Stevens, Vice-president: Angela Jones, Secretary/Treasurer: Julio Enriquez.

TX-OMICRON(4415) [University of Dallas; advisor, Philipp Rosemann] In the last few years, the University of Dallas chapter has conducted a         joint induction with the University of Texas at Arlington chapter. However, the Arlington chapter had no new members this year, though the Arlington chapter advisor did attend the induction.   The featured speaker for the event was University of Dallas professor, Dr.  Robert Wood,  who gave a talk entitled ‘‘The Cosmos Has an Inside." The induction ceremony concluded with a small reception.

On May 3, the University of Dallas chapter hosted a panel featuring a politics professor, a senior politics major, a philosophy professor, and a senior philosophy major. The panel was entitled ‘‘Philosophy, Politics, and Culture in Trump’s America.’’ Each panelist spoke, and following their presentations, they took questions from the audience. Topics discussed ranged from the internet’s role in political debate, to Trump’s anti-elitism and rhetorical tactics, to the rise of ressentiment in America. The event lasted for approximately an hour and was attended by 10-13 students.

VA-GAMMA(4703) [James Madison University; advisor, Anne M. Wiles] Our Virginia Gamma chapter at James Madison University sponsored several talks in the spring semester in a program titled ‘‘Hermeneutics: Language and Meaning in the Liberal Arts.’’ First, Dr. John Cuddeback, Professor of Philosophy at Christendom College, spoke on ‘‘The Hermeneutics of Aristotelian Friendship." Dr. James Risser, Professor  of  Philosophy and Dean of the Honors College at the University of Seattle, presented a talk on ‘‘Understanding How We Understand: Dialogue and Interpretation,’’ as well as a talk the following day on ‘‘Hermeneutical Reflections on the Question of Truth in Art.’’ Dr. Daniel Dahlstrom, John Silber Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, presented his talk, ‘‘Heidegger on Language,’’ and interacted with the audience via Skype. On April 3 and 4, Dr. William Desmond, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Leuven, and Professor at Villanova University, presented two lectures, the first on ‘‘The Voice of the Irish: Philosophy and Literature,’’ and the second, ‘‘Flux Gibberish: Interpreting Heraclitus.’’ A final talk in the program was presented by Dr. Jude Dougherty, Dean Emeritus of the Catholic University of America; the title was ‘‘On Interpretations.’’

Augustus Snyder and Tyler Palombo, Co-Vice Presidents of our chapter, co-authored a paper, ‘‘Plato’s Charioteer; Mythos and Logos in the Dialogues.’’ The paper received one of the top three awards at the  annual  JMU  ‘‘Mad  Rush  Conference.’’  In  addition  to  several  social  events,  members of the chapter also met to discuss W. J. Auden’s ‘‘Under Which Lyre.’’ On April 18, our chapter inducted thirteen new members at the annual  Philosophy/Religion  Honors  Ceremony.

VA-NU(4713) [Emory and Henry College: advisor, Ben Letson] NEW ADVISOR.

WV-ALPHA(4901) [Wheeling Jesuit University; advisor, Beverly Whelton] Since our chapter had  no  student  members  this  past  year,  Ryan  Norman, a 2011 alum, assisted with our induction ceremony. After the induction ceremony, the Philosophy Club (which is named Sense and Nonsense). held an afternoon of philosophy; the speaker was Dr. Keith Whitmoyer who spoke on ‘‘Merleau-Ponty and the Philosopher’s Cruelty.’’ The Wheeling Jesuit chapter also modified its entrance requirement from ’completed 18 credits’ to ’completing 18 credits’ so that club members could  promote  the society.

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From the Executive Secretary

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year! Several years ago, we expanded our journal, and for the first time in many years, we published three issues in a single school year. We printed thirty-four articles by student authors, and that is the most we have ever printed in a single year. Congratulations to all the authors and the faculty who encouraged and supported them! We look forward to another good year for our journal, though we do not expect to publish a Supplement this year. The basis for last September’s Supplement was a conference held at San Diego State University, and we are open to publishing another single subject Supplement that is based on the work of a student conference. Members of our Academic Council drew up a set of expectations for publishing another Supplement. Because of our limited resources as an all volunteer organization, we will need some editorial help for any Supplement, but if you are interested in another Supplement, I can supply you with a check list for such a project.

Congratulations to all our returning members. We look forward to another good year for Phi Sigma Tau. Our new membership was down a bit last year; we inducted 1198 new members for the year. For the past six years, we have averaged a little over 1200 new members each year, so you are in a select group of students. We want to encourage you to continue your good work and consider submitting your best work to our editor for possible  publication in the journal.   You  can contact our editor, Dr.  Steve Barbone, by email at [email protected] You  may also request to review a book; the list of available books can be found in the last issue of the journal. If you do choose a book to review, please complete your review promptly and submit it to Dr. Barbone. You get to keep the book as a small reward for writing the review! A nice way to supplement your library!

Best wishes to all of you, faculty and students, for a great school year.


David E. Gibson

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2016-2017 Financial Report



Initiation fees





Dialogue subscriptions



NAC dues



Charter fees






Retained Earnings


(not included)

Other income










Printing costs






Dialogue printing



ACHS dues/expenses






Other expenses






Retained Earnings

$ 192,812.58

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The Lyceum Organization was founded in 2010 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its mission is to provide an introduction to critical thinking and philosophy for students aged 12-18. Several branches of Lyceum conduct research on the benefits of philosophical training at the high school level. Lyceum camp events have been held by several Midwestern universities, sometimes sponsored by PST chapters. These events offer a unique volunteering opportunity for undergraduate students, teachers, and professors who host the Lyceum events. Previous events have achieved a satisfaction rating of 8.5 (out of 10) by participants, many of whom have elected to participate for more than one year.

The Executive Council of Phi Sigma Tau is presently working with Lyceum as a means to encourage PST chapters to consider working with their local sponsoring departments and institutions to provide Lyceum events on their local campuses. We are in the process of producing a Lyceum Manual for interested chapters. The Manual, which we hope to make available by the end of the current calendar year, will provide information on hosting a Lyceum (planning, scheduling, budget, staffing, advertising, policies, and reports) as well as contact persons at Lyceum and at Phi Sigma Tau who can provide further information and assistance in the planning stages. We shall be sending further information to all chapter advisors this fall as we complete the necessary materials for detailing our affiliation with and support of Lyceum.

Lee Rice President

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From Our Archives

Our archives are not extensive, but we do have some correspondence from the days of the founding of Phi Sigma Tau. During the last year, I have  included some copies of the correspondence about the formation of the society and about some of the symbols that were chosen for the Phi Sigma Tau key. This time I have included some more of that correspondence. If you read some of the earlier letters, you will know that Professor Dale Diefenbach and Professor H. L. Womack  were instrumental in the early days of our organization; they corresponded with people from Harvard, The   Library of Congress, and with others interested in an honor society for philosophy students. I have attached two letters, one from James R.  Ware  of  Harvard University and the other from Joseph Wang from the Division of Orientalia of the Library of Congress, that explain something of the symbol that was chosen to represent Chinese thought on our key. I hope you find the letters interesting; they are copied onto the next pages.

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 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.