Category : graduate

Graduate Student Profiles: Clinton Neptune

The following is the continuation of a series of profiles on Loyola philosophy graduate students, giving you a brief sense of their thoughts on their research, teaching, and the value of philosophy. This profile covers Clinton Neptune.

1. What made you become a philosopher?
I started college as a pre-med student and my program required an ethics class. Shortly into the course, I found myself completely enamored with the reading and discussion of philosophy. I credit my professor, Dr. Michael Byron, whose skill and passion lit a fire in me that has continued to burn for the past decade. I was deeply blessed to have such great teachers and I wanted to follow in their footsteps – teaching others this marvelous content and hopefully modeling a winsome philosophical life.

2. What is the topic of your dissertation? What made you become interested in this topic?
My dissertation offers an alternative to prevailing assumptions in philosophy religion concerning certain conceptions of God. I argue that we ought, for the purpose of inquiry into God’s existence and nature, to think of God as a being that is willing and able to rescue humanity from their predicament of death, moral failure, and suffering. Other prominent ways of thinking about God’s existence frontload the conversation with several confusing and complicated properties of God that can serve as stumbling blocks to religious inquiry. For example, ascribing the property of exhaustive foreknowledge to God is quite challenging to defend and, in my opinion, is not a central property of God that must be endorsed at the outset when searching for evidence of God’s existence. I think it is an intellectual barrier to potential salient evidence.

Paul Moser’s work in religious epistemology has been enormously influential for me. His work caused me to seriously rethink the project of Natural Theology. I found myself relying on the power of the traditional arguments for God’s existence when discussing my religious belief with others—arguments like the cosmological, teleological, and ontological arguments. Now I view them as a bit misguided and ultimately wanting as an explanation or defense of my religious beliefs. Moser’s focus instead on the evidential value of religious experience and God’s hiddenness has reshaped the core of my philosophy of religion.

3. How have you found the writing process? Are there any tips you would recommend for other graduate students to follow?
For me, the most important marker of success in my writing process is simply the discipline to set aside a set amount of time each day to work on it. I started using Google calendar to intentionally carve out two hours in the morning to write. A mental hurdle you have to jump is the thought, “I don’t have to work on it today.” It’s tough because that sentence is true of every day from start to finish – not working on it a single day will not wreck the project entirely. But, of course, if you never work on it, it will never get done!

One tip that has worked well for me is doing a bit of exercise before my writing time. I try to get up early, run for two miles, and then sit down to write at my local coffee shop. I think it helps your mindset going into the writing session when you have already accomplished something of value that day – keep that production train rolling!

4. You’re currently in a non-academic position. How have you found that your philosophical training can contribute to work outside the academy?
I currently work at Heartland Community Church in Medina, OH as their Connections Director. I am tasked with providing support and leadership to ways folks can live in community with one another. I have found that people, like myself in that first philosophy class, are hungry for what philosophy can offer even if they don’t say it or know it. I have meetings every week with people that want to dig deeper into the realm of ideas, and it has been good to see how clear thinking in the context of relationship can be transformative.
A fellow philosophy-lover and I started a podcast called Open to Truth where we discuss theology and philosophy that is accessible for folks in the church without formal philosophical training. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, and our website: Opportunities to serve my community with my specific training have been surprising and satisfying.

5. Are there any pieces of advice that you wish you had known earlier on in your philosophical career?
I had been acquainted with many of the typical warnings you hear about the job market. One that I did not fully appreciate and greatly influenced my decision to go non-academic, was the idea that one might not have very much control over where one could secure a tenure-track position. It has been increasingly important for my wife and two kids (and one on the way!) to live near close friends and family. This was simply not as important to me when I first started, and I suppose I failed to think carefully about how my attitude would change on this in the future.

6. Are there two or three sources–I’m thinking books and articles mostly, but feel free to include any other sources if you want–that you would recommend for thinking about your area of research and why?
I just finished reading What is the Bible: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell. It is an engaging, easy read and towards the end draws some fascinating implications concerning topics in philosophy of religion such as inspiration, divine revelation, and evidence for divine activity.

I am eager to get my hands on the Pascal’s Wager, a collection of essay Paul Bartha and Lawrence Pasternack. It will pay homage to the ways Pascal’s argument has influenced the history of philosophy and decision theory while spending some time offering contemporary analyses of its validity. It should be a hoot!

This Friday and Saturday: Dissent and its Discontents

Join us this Friday and Saturday for our graduate student conference! The conference will take place Friday, October 6 from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and Saturday, October 7 from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. This event is free and open to the public. Keynote speakers include Dr. Gabriel Rockhill from Villanova University and our own Dr. Joy Gordon. Presenters will speak on panels on discourse, decentralization, structural oppression, argumentation, community, political obligation, and (non?)violence. Click on Graduate Conference to view the full schedule!

Lack of Travel Funding Hurts Graduate Student Job Prospects

Claire Lockard, a PhD student in our Philosophy department, wrote about the lack of graduate funding in the Loyola Phoenix:

To be a competitive job applicant, students are usually expected to have presented research at multiple conferences. One can make the argument that conference presentations are required of graduate students, despite the lack of funding from Loyola.

Loyola doesn’t pay graduate students enough money to fund their own conference travel. And if the graduate school caps reimbursements at $400, and then doesn’t even have enough of those grants to go around, then all graduate students at Loyola are at a disadvantage when we apply for academic jobs.

Read more at the Loyola Phoenix!

Dissertation Fellowships: Woodrow Wilson Foundation

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation has been proud to support more than 22,000 Fellows who collectively have an impressive record of scholarship, teaching, service, and public influence. Among them is a select group whose work advances the disciplines in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. The Foundation’s offerings in these areas are designed to encourage promising scholars early in their career, helping them to complete their dissertation writing.

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships
The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships are designed to encourage original and significant study of religious and ethical values in all areas of human endeavor. Eligible proposals have religious or ethical values as a central concern. Previous Fellows have explored such topics as disability and modern medicine, technologies of famine relief, the normalcy of difference, and devotion and the formation of a new urban base. Ph.D. and Th.D. candidates in the humanities or social sciences who will be in the final year of dissertation writing during the 2018-2019 academic year may apply. The competition deadline is November 15, 2017.

Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowships in Women’s Studies
The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies encourages original and significant research about women that crosses disciplinary, regional, or cultural boundaries. Previous Fellows have explored such topics as feminist technology design, the complex gender dynamics of transidentity management, women’s electoral success across racial and institutional contexts, women’s sports, and militarism, and the education of American women. The competition deadline is October 15, 2017.

Please see the website for further information:

Questions about the Fellowships may be sent to:
Newcombe Fellowship:
Women’s Studies Fellowship:

Illinois Humanities Brown Bag Talk

Nicoletta Ruane is a PhD candidate in our Philosophy department and will be speaking about her assistantship with Illinois Humanities at a brown bag talk on Tuesday, October 3 from 12pm-1pm at Crown Center 528. This is a great opportunity for humanities graduate students looking to explore non-academic options. A recent interview with Ms. Ruane can be found on the Graduate School’s Professional Development page. Ms. Ruane spoke with us about herself and the program: 

I work in the area of social and political philosophy and teach as an adjunct instructor at Loyola and other area colleges. I also work on the Owl of Minerva, the journal of the Hegel Society of America. I’m currently writing a dissertation where I aim to develop a theoretical approach to post-capitalist institution formation. When it’s all over, I hope one day to write on aesthetics again as well.

As a philosopher, one is often acutely aware that few people understand what goes on in the profession and what it’s all for, and that this question mark often hangs over the humanities in general.

What was most appealing to me about working at Illinois Humanities (IH) was learning what public, i.e., non-academic, humanities offerings look like in Illinois and how they are developed. With less than 40 percent of the US completing a bachelor’s degree (and assuming there is some exposure to the humanities in college or university), the wealth that the disciplines have to offer, at least as that is presented in higher education, is not accessed by the majority.

IH has positioned itself as a rather non-traditional state humanities council, and I’ll be talking a bit about what that means. The organization works pretty ambitiously to connect a broad general audience in different areas of interest: to the history of the state, and its regions and towns; to contemporary art, music and culture; to political representatives and leading intellectuals on social and civic issues; even offering programs geared toward the journalism and business communities. The program I was brought on to develop, Illinois Speaks, is a state-wide civic engagement series, so it fell under the public policy umbrella of programs, but as it grew, we were able to draw in some of IH’s sizeable arts and culture audience.

I valued the opportunity to work there for a year because I learned some ways to share what the humanities offer, in particular the historical and cultural perspective they provide, in the form of creative and accessible public programming. Broadly speaking, this sort of work will be attractive to those who are oriented to the social good and enjoy organizational challenges. I’ll be speaking specifically next month on what I learned, the tasks involved, the specific skills needed, and how those may relate to the experiences and training of graduate students.

All humanities graduate students are invited on October 3. Bring your questions!

ATTN Women in Philosophy (in Chicago): Works-in-Progress Workshop

An email from the philosophers of Northwestern’s WiPhi is reposted below.


Dear Colleagues:


We hope this email finds you all well. We are writing to you on behalf of WiPhi (Northwestern’s group of women in philosophy). We would like to contribute to the creation of a thriving and supportive intellectual community for women in the profession.  Toward that end, we are attempting to organize a work-in-progress workshop for all women philosophers (graduate and faculty) in the Chicagoland area.


The purpose of this workshop would be to provide an opportunity for women philosophers to present their work-in-progress and receive constructive feedback in an informal and collaborative environment. Participants can present on any topic in philosophy.


In the beginning we plan to meet once a month. However, depending upon the demand and the number of participants, we may hold bi-weekly meetings in the future. In order to facilitate and encourage participation from graduate students and faculty at other Chicagoland universities, we plan on holding our meetings at Northwestern’s downtown campus.


Any and all graduate or faculty women are encouraged to participate, regardless of whether they anticipate in presenting their own work for discussion.  


If you are interested in being part of this workshop, either as a presenter or participant, and being on the email list, please email  Your email will be added to a listserv and you will receive more specific information regarding organization and upcoming meetings.  Please note in your email whether you would be interested in presenting during the 2014-2015 academic year.


We would like to schedule our first meeting in the fall, so if you are interested in meeting during the Fall term, in addition to emailing us please fill out the following “whenisgood” by Monday, October 10th:


Please, feel free to circulate this email to anyone who may be interested in joining our meetings.


We look forward to hearing from you!




Cristina Carrillo 

C.K. Egbert

Save the date: August 25th! Grad Student Welcome BBQ

As a reminder, please save the following date and time for Philosophy’s annual Graduate Student Welcome Barbeque:


5 P.M. on Monday, August 25th


We will send out more information about the event later this summer.




Molly Clasen

Strong work! Our graduate students are making us proud.

According to the information we have, the following is a brief summary of the accomplishments of our graduate students this past academic year.  Congratulations to all!

  • 18 had teaching assistantships
  • 4  received university fellowships for next year
  • 5 received department awards (4 for summer research and 1 for excellence in teaching)
  • 7 different students gave a total of 14 presentations
  • 9 were granted Graduate School travel awards
  • 3 had work published
  • 12 graduated (2 Ph.D., 10 M.A.)


LUC-Marquette Phenomenology Workshop, May 21-22

Dear all,
Please find the program for the joint workshop on May 21-22 of the Phenomenology Research Group (PRG), to take place at Marquette (location TBA).  This is the first workshop organized jointly by graduate students at Loyola University Chicago and Marquette University interested in phenomenology.  This is the kick-off event of a series of ongoing exchange between both departments to be continued in the fall (alternating between Chicago and Milwaukee).  Please spread the news and consider attending.  Please RSVP to either me or Greg Trotter ( so we know how big a space we need to reserve.
Best wishes,
Sebastian Luft (on behalf of the Phenomenology Research Group)

End of the Year Graduate Student Potluck! 5/1


You are enthusiastically invited to…image001

The end-of-year graduate student potluck party! Please join us to celebrate graduating students and retiring faculty.


Who?                 Graduate students, faculty members, staff members.

When?             Thursday May 1st, 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where?        Crown Center Lobby.

NOTE:                Family and friends welcome. We’ll provide soft drinks and meat/veggie burgers. Please bring a dish and/or drinks to share.


Hope to see you there!





Molly Clasen

Office Assistant

Philosophy Department
Loyola University Chicago

Crown Center 381

1032 West Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660

Phone: 773.508.2453

Fax: 773.508.2292

Congratulations to Loyola’s Bioethics Bowl Team!

Loyola’s Bioethics Bowl team took home the championship trophy last Saturday, beating out the defending champions from Georgetown University.  The team consists of undergraduates Paul Kubicki, Noah Whitney, Monica Finke, Amanda Epstein, MaryKate Brueck, and coaches Dr. Jennifer Parks and Sarah Babbitt.

The bowl is part of the 2014 National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference (NUBC), which Loyola hosted from April 5th-7th at the Water Tower Campus.  Both events are sponsored in part by the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH).  Organizers, Dr. Parks and bioethics minor Graham Hale, worked very hard to bring students and faculty together to pull this event off.

The philosophy department was instrumental in running this year’s bowl competition.  Several professors, including Drs. Pamela Lomelino, David Ingram, Hugh Miller, James Murphy, David Ozar, Victoria Wike, Christina Drogalis, and Brandon Morgan-Olsen, volunteered to serve as judges for the competition.  And several philosophy graduate students, including Corbin Casarez, Xin Chen, Kristina Grob, Mike Gutierrez, Kyoungnam Park, Merritt Rehn-DeBraal, and Joel Stenftnagel, served as judges or moderators. And Bryn Dugre provided vital administrative assistance for the competition.

Thanks to all of the volunteers at Loyola and beyond for putting on a great event!

Colloquium: Dr. Peter King on “Augustine’s *Confessions*: A new philosophical genre,” (LUC) Apr 9, 4pm

King colloq

LUC Grad Conference: Philosophy, Virtue, and Personhood – April 11-12

LUCGCposterDRAFT2Mark your calendars! Our graduate conference is April 11th-12th, at the Lakeshore campus on the 4th floor of the Klarchek Information Commons.

The theme is Philosophy, Virtue, and Personhood. We’re going to hear papers from graduate student philosophers from various philosophical backgrounds. And we have excellent keynote speakers slated for both evenings of the conference.  We’re hoping to generate some quality discussion on the ways philosophy affects and transforms our lives.



Friday, April 11th

10:00 – 10:45

Continental Breakfast

10:50 – 11:35

Jonathan Spelman (University of Colorado at Boulder) – Consequences and Virtue

11:40 – 12:25

Theodore Bergsma (Miami University) – On the Substantial Subject: “Aspectival Captivity” in Wittgenstein and Nietzsche

12:30 – 2:00

Lunch (on your own)

2:00 – 2:45

Ryan Gustafson (New School for Social Research) – Genealogy, Critique, and Normativity

2:50 – 3:35

Justin Kitchen (San Francisco State University) – Virtue as the Skill of Living: Inducing ‘The Good Flow’

3:45 – 5:00

FACULTY KEYNOTE: Hanne Jacobs (Loyola University Chicago) – Husserl on Self-Constitution and Personhood

Saturday, April 12th

10:00 – 10:45

Continental Breakfast

10:50 – 11:35

Jessica Adkins (Marquette University) – Finding the Good in Dying: Defending Physician Assisted Death of the Akratic Agent

11:40 – 12:25

Daniel Rodriguez Navas (University of Chicago) – The Pursuit of Truth and Ethical Self-Constitution: On Foucault’s Kantianism According to Hacking

12:30 – 2:00

Lunch (on your own)

2:00 – 2:45

Matthew Howery (San Francisco State University) – Posthumous Agency

2:50 – 3:35

David Antonini (Southern Illinois University Carbondale) – Kant on Virtue

3:45 – 5:00

KEYNOTE: Gabriel Richardson Lear (University of Chicago) – Plato on Moral Beauty and the Look of Love


Graduate Student Happy Hour!! March 21

March Happy Hour Sign

Grad Student Happy Hour!

Poster by resident artist Molly Clasen.