On Business Degrees and Free Market Mysticism

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, October 2, 2014.

“I don’t like to hire students who studied accounting. They tend to approach problems narrowly, as though they are clear-cut numerical issues with clear-cut, single-answer solutions. This just isn’t true.”

I was a bit surprised to hear this from a partner at a nationally recognized law firm that focused on business law. As a former philosophy major in a joint-degree program in law and Catholic Studies, I tended to see my lack of business knowledge as a liability in my job search. What this lawyer suggested, however, was that a technical or job-oriented degree could be an intellectual hindrance for those pursuing professional work. Continue reading “On Business Degrees and Free Market Mysticism”

On Empty Classrooms

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

Willis Konick retired in 2007 as one of the University of Washington’s most sought-after professors.

For Willis, as his students called him, the classroom had changed over the years. According to the Seattle Times, ” [Willis] said teaching Dostoyevsky novels in the 1960s was easy because he didn’t need to explain radicalism to students. The students often came to class stoned – but he didn’t find that as annoying as today’s students, who often text-message during class.” Continue reading “On Empty Classrooms”

Studying Death

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, September 4, 2014.

When students first read how Athens put Socrates to death they either balk at the injustice of the Athenians or at the uncalculating stubbornness of Socrates. Socrates was charged with corrupting Athens’ youth and refused to yield when faced with death. I myself sided with Socrates as my PLS Great Books seminar grappled with the story. My professor helped me to understand the other side: “If your children were abandoning their jobs and educations to follow an old man around, asking bothersome questions to strangers, what would you do? What would Notre Dame do if a professor convinced a bunch of students to stop attending class and, instead, sit out on the quad and talk about being all day?”  Continue reading “Studying Death”

Book Recommendations for Undergrads Considering Law School

Coming to law school has made me particularly glad that I decided to major in philosophy. In many ways, I’ve found many of the ideas I encountered as an undergraduate to be foundational to the way I approach the law. I could make a pretty long list of books that I think every student should study (not just “read,” but “study”) before coming to law school, but here are some texts that I think are particularly important:  Continue reading “Book Recommendations for Undergrads Considering Law School”

Newman, and the development of Catholic teaching on abortion and homosexuality

“… and old principles reappear under new forms. It [a great idea] changes with them in order to remain the same. In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” So goes the argument of Blessed John Henry Newman‘s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Like any great idea, doctrine must change in order to remain the same. Only dead doctrine cannot change, for “a power of development is a proof of life.” Continue reading “Newman, and the development of Catholic teaching on abortion and homosexuality”

The Paradox of an Education in Philosophy

When one thinks about the constitution of an education in philosophy, one often begins by considering the curricula of philosophy departments in contemporary American universities. When asking, “What is an education in philosophy,” we begin by asking, “What is an education in a philosophy department?” Continue reading “The Paradox of an Education in Philosophy”

The Great Books at Notre Dame

In November 2010, I presented a paper for the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture’s annual Fall Conference. After several requests, I have reproduced this paper below, with some minimal edits and revisions. Regarding discussions of my experiences in the Program, it must be noted that I only took three of the required classes. My personal experience in the Program was quite minimal. Continue reading “The Great Books at Notre Dame”