Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Philosophy department have done over the years.

Abstract: Most of us take it for granted that there is an external world beyond our conscious experience, and modern science is predicated on this assumption. However, this view has difficulty accounting for how things outside the mind have meaning if we assume that meaning is fundamental to the mind. If meaning is instead considered to reside only in the mind and communication to be a provocative act rather than an intermediary between minds, no account of meaning without mind is necessary and those difficulties are avoided.

Collin Shinkle (2016)

Abstract: The question of my presentation: how true claims about what the United States of America’s Constitution means is possible. What makes an interpretation of the meaning of the Constitution true? My aim is to show the importance of this question, and consider ways of understanding and solving the problem where the fields of philosophy of law and philosophy of language meet. Theories to consider: formalism; rule skepticism; descriptivism; conservatism; progressivism; semantics; and foundational theories of meaning.

Jeff Lewis (2015)

Abstract: This research looks critically at the works of Immanuel Kant and the ideology of Nazism, looking at potential ways that Kant's philosophy might have been used, correctly or not, by the toxic regime. It analyzes politics, religion, antisemitism, and moral philosophy of both sets of principles.

Andrea Risolo (2015)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Philosophy department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.


  • Human Treatment Towards Animals – From Ethical Theory to Societal Reality - Jianing Chen (Independent Research)
  • What Could It Mean? Intentionality, Communication, and the World Beyond the Mind - Collin Shinkle (Independent Research)


  • Kant's Philosophy of Freedom - Andrea Risolo (Independent Research)
  • Searching for the true meaning of the U.S. Constitution - Jeff Lewis (Independent Research)
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