Phi Sigma Tau

PSTEmory University has an unusually active Phi Sigma Tau undergraduate philosophy honor society chapter. Due to a generous 2006 grant, The Ronald and Patricia Nicholson Endowment has enabled us to acknowledge our new members each spring with a formal induction dinner attended by the department faculty and featuring a keynote address by a prominent scholar. During the year, Phi Sigma Tau sponsors a monthly Philosophy Circle program to which all undergraduates are invited, as well honors thesis workshops in the fall and spring semesters (see below).


To serve as a means of awarding distinction to students having high scholarship and personal interest in philosophy; to promote student interest in research and advanced study in this field; to provide opportunities for the publication of student research papers of merit; to encourage a professional spirit and friendship among those who have displayed marked ability in this field; to popularize interest in philosophy among the general collegiate public.


Undergraduate students are eligible for membership if they have declared a philosophy major, completed three semesters of college courses with a minimum 3.2 GPA, and completed five philosophy courses with a minimum 3.5 GPA in those courses.

Philosophy Circle Program

Each month, Phi Sigma Tau sponsors a Philosophy Circle, in which a senior faculty member presents and leads a discussion on a topic of his or her special interest with a group of undergraduates. Though the honor society sponsors these discussions, they are open to any interested undergraduates, including those who have never taken a philosophy course and are interested in discovering more about the subject. The Circles take place early each month in the intimate and elegant Institute for Vico Studies (202 Bowden Hall). If you would like to learn more about the Philosophy Circles or be added to the Philosophy Club Learnlink Conference, on which all Philosophy Circle announcements are posted, please email Phi Sigma Tau President Alexander Yoakum or temporary chapter advisor Prof. John Lysaker.

Honors Thesis Writing Sessions

Each semester, Phi Sigma Tau sponsors an honors thesis writing session led by a senior faculty member. The Spring session introduces the thesis writing requirements and process to junior philosophy majors contemplating writing a thesis their senior year, and the Fall session goes into depth on the mechanics of thesis writing and defense.

Emory Phi Sigma Tau Chapter History (since 2007)

Academic Year 2018-2019:


  • President: Alexander Yoakum
  • Vice President: Olivia Byrd
  • Secretary: Logan Kugathasan

Academic Year 2017-2018:


  • President: Dominic Shoucair
  • Vice President: Michael Demers
  • Secretary: Logan Kugathasan

Philosophy Circles:

  • September: Frederick Marcus: Whitehead’s Crucial Experiment
  • October: Jeremy Bell: Plato on the Good
  • November: Ralph Buchenhorst: The 1968 German Student Movement: Marcuse and Adorno
  • February: Marta Jimenez: Socrates on Desire for the Good
  • March: Jessica Wahman: Psyche as Agent: Overcoming the Free-Unfree Dichotomy

 Other meetings:

  • September and April: Susan Bredlau: Honors Thesis Writing
  • February: Third Annual Emory Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
    • Keynote: Susan Bredlau:Illness as a Phenomenon of Being-in-the-World with Others
  •  April: Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner
    • Keynote: Frederick Marcus: The Socratic Life

Academic Year 2016-2017:


  • President: David Joannides
  • Vice President: Daniel Hanfelt
  • Secretary: Amy Tang

Philosophy Circles:

  • September: Ursula Goldenbaum: Einstein on Mathematics and Reality
  • October: Thomas Flynn: Existentialism as a Way of Life
  • November: Cynthia Willett: Eros Ethics
  • February: Dilek Huseyinzadegan: Reading Kant for the Present
  • March: Mark Risjord: Well-Being: Pluralism, Naturalism, and Interdisciplinarity

 Other meetings:

  • September and April: Susan Bredlau: Honors Thesis Writing
  • February: Second Annual Emory Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
    • Keynote: Donald Phillip Verene: The Pursuit of the Pursuit of Truth
  • April: Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner
    • Keynote: Marta Jimenez: Can We Be Good People Without Being Good Citizens? Aristotle on the Private and Public Dimensions of Virtue

Academic Year 2015-2016:


  • President: Alexa Cucopulos
  • Vice President: Gino Elia
  • Secretary: Joseph Gerth

Philosophy Circles (combined with writing workshops):

  • September: Donald Phillip Verene: Beginnings
  • October: John Lysaker: Modes of Philosophy
  • November: Andrew Mitchell: Novalis and German Romanticism
  • December: Michael Sullivan: What Pragmatism Means
  • February: Susan Bredlau: Intimacy, Death and Heidegger’s “They”
  • March: George Yancy: The Insidious Nature of Whiteness

Other meetings:

  • Philosophy Roundtables and Writing Sessions
  • September: Donald Phillip Verene: Honors Thesis Writing
  • February: Inaugural Emory Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
  • April: Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner
    • Keynote: Cynthia Willett: Urban Art as Urban Ethics: from Mexico City to Ferguson Missouri

Academic Year 2014-2015:


  • President: Priyanka Krishnamurthy
  • Vice President: Martin Sigalow
  • Secretary: Christopher Rolling

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: Frederick Marcus: The Logic of Scientific Inquiry
  • October: Marta Jimenez: Aristotle on Pseudo-Courage
  • November: John Stuhr: George Santayana on Philosophical Heresy
  • December: Ann Hartle: Civility and the Limits of the Tolerable
  • February: Noelle McAfee: Habermas, Derrida and the (Phantom) Public Sphere
  • March: Nicholas Fotion: The Cost of Relativism

November Philosophy Movie Night: John Lysaker: Save the Tiger

March Philosophy Movie Night: Andrew Mitchell, The Third Generation

Phi Beta Kappa-Phi Sigma Tau Lecture: Donald Phillip Verene: The Muses and Philosophy

Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, April 16, 2015

  • Keynote Address: Ann Hartle: Liberal Education and the Civil Character 

Academic Year 2013-2014:


  • President: Yun Cho
  • Vice President: Nikhil Raghuveera
  • Secretary: Ishaan Jalan

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: Thomas Flynn: Existentialism–Philosophy as a Way of Life
  • October: Ursula Goldenbaum: What is Enlightenment?
  • November: Mark Risjord: Jazz Improvisation and the Structure of Society
  • December: Ann Hartle: Are Moral Values Relative?
  • February: Cynthia Willett: Eros Ethics
  • March: Dilek Huseyinzadegan: Beauty and Morality in Kant’s Critical Philosophy

Thesis Writing Sessions

  • October: Thomas Flynn (for those presently writing a thesis)
  • April: Michael Sullivan (for those thinking of writing a thesis next year)

November Philosophy Movie Night: Andrew Mitchell: Close Up

Phi Sigma Tau/Philosophy Department Honors Dinner, March 27, 2014:

  • Keynote: Michael Sullivan: Justice, Pragmatism and Process

Academic Year 2012-2013:


  • President: Hannah Kim
  • Vice President: Tracy Williams
  • Secretary: Daniel DePorre

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: John Lysaker, “Philosophy as an Activity of Reception and Response”
  • October: Donald Phillip Verene, “The Origins of Philosophy”
  • November: Andrew Mitchell, “Nietzsche’s The Gay Science
  • December: Richard Patterson, “Plato’s Form of the Good”
  • February: Susan Bredlau, “The Growth of the Soul”
  • March: Melvin Rogers, “W. E. B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folks

Thesis Writing Sessions:

  • October: Ann Hartle (for those presently writing a thesis)
  • April: Nicholas Fotion (for those thinking of writing a thesis next year)

Philosophy Movie Nights (co-sponsored with the Philosophy Club)

  • November 9 (Andrew Mitchell and Eddy Von Mueller): The Big Lebowski
  • March 1 (Andrew Mitchell and Eddy Von Mueller): Last Year at Marienbad

Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, April 11, 2013

  • Keynote address: Rudolph Makkreel, “The Role of Feeling in Kant’s Moral Philosophy”

Academic Year 2011-2012:


  • President: Jaime Leiman
  • Vice President: Aaron David
  • Secretary: Madhavi Seth

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: Frederick Marcus, “Peirce’s Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness”
  • October: Nicholas Fotion, “Civilian Based Defense”
  • November: Ursula Goldenbaum, “Spinoza on Human Freedom”
  • December: Michael Sullivan, “What Pragmatism Means”
  • February: John Stuhr, “God, Death and the Absurd”
  • March: Marta Jimenez, “Socrates on Desire for the Good”

Thesis Writing Sessions:

  • November: Nicholas Fotion, “How to Write an Honors Thesis”
  • April: Michael Sullivan: “The Honors Thesis Experience”

Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, April 26, 2012

  • Keynote address: Penelope Deutscher, Northwestern University, “Analogy is Always a Reason”

Academic Year 2010-2011:


  • President: Ben Housman
  • Vice President: Mitchell Dao
  • Secretary: Stefan Staloff

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: Mark Risjord, ìThe Evolutionary Basis of Cultureî
  • October: Noelle McAfee, ìPublic Opinion and the Public Sphereî
  • November: Rudolph Makkreel, ìDistinguishing the Human from the Natural Sciencesî
  • December: Ann Hartle, ìMontaigne on Philosophical Characterî
  • February: Thomas Flynn, ìExistentialism: Philosophy as a Way of Lifeî
  • March: David Carr, ìSartreís Discovery of Husserlís Intentionalityî

Thesis Writing Sessions:

  • October: Donald Phillip Verene, ìThe Honors Thesis Processî
  • February: Michael Sullivan, ìThinking about Writing a Thesis?î

Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, March 31, 2011

  • Keynote address: Mark Johnson, University of Oregon, ìMorality for Humansî

Academic Year 2009-2010:


  • President: Ali Madani
  • Vice President: Maxwell Suffis
  • Secretary: Kathryn Williams

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: John Lysaker, ìThe Tasks of Philosophyî
  • October: Donald Livingston, ìAnselmís Ontological Argumentî
  • November: Richard Patterson, ìPlato on the Goodî
  • December: Donald Phillip Verene, Vicoís New Science
  • February: Andrew Mitchell, Nietzscheís The Gay Science
  • March: Frederick Marcus, Whitehead on Speculative Philosophy

Thesis Writing Sessions (The Institute for Vico Studies):

  • September: Ann Hartle, ìHow to Write an Honors Thesisî
  • March: Ali Madani, Christopher Barnett, Hadas deGroot, Frank Lemon, ìFour Students Share Their Thesis Writing Experienceî

Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, April 20, 2010

  • Keynote address: Charles Scott, Vanderbilt University, ìEthics is Uncertain Timesî

Academic Year 2008-2009:


  • President: Dustin Pledgeri
  • Vice President: Vlad Golgotiu
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Mary Rachel Taylor

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: Ursula Goldenbaum, ìThe German Spinoza Controversyî
  • October: Nicholas Fotion, ìCan Terror Ever be Morally Justified?î
  • November: Jack Zupko, Wittgensteinís Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
  • December: Ann Hartle, Montaigneís ìBy Diverse Means We Arrive at the Same Endî
  • February: Rudolf Makkreel, ìDoes the Explanation-Understanding Distinction Clarify the Natural Sciences-Human Sciences Distinction?î
  • March: John Stuhr, William Jamesí ìThe Moral Philosopher and the Moral Lifeî

Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, April 21, 2009

  • Keynote address: Rosemarie Tong, ìRedesigning Ourselves: Genetically Altering Our Children: Knowing When to Stopî

Academic Year 2007-2008:


  • President: Neda Lajevardi
  • Vice President: Jill Rudnitzky
  • Secretary: Raymond Hu

Philosophy Circle Sessions:

  • September: Donald Phillip Verene, ìThe Name and Nature of Philosophyî
  • October: Robert McCauley, ìPhilosophical Naturalismî
  • November: Steven Strange, ìSocrates and the Stoic Idealî
  • December: Thomas Flynn, ìExistentialism: Philosophy as a Way of Lifeî
  • February: Michael Sulivan, ìWhat Pragmatism Meansî
  • March: David Carr, ìSartre on Husserlís Intentionalityî

Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, April 24, 2008

  • Keynote address: Robert Cummings Neville, ìTime and Eternity: Improving Process Metaphysicsî

Spring 2007:


  • President: Michael Clebone
  • Vice President: Steven Batters
  • Secretary: Bryan Olson

Inaugural Phi Sigma Tau Induction Dinner, April 26, 2007

  • Keynote address: Daniel Garber, ìWhy Early-Modern Philosophers Needed Godî