Senior Capstone Experience

In addition to the ten required courses, each philosophy major must also complete the Senior Capstone Experience (SCE), normally a thesis, but possibly a set of comprehensive exams. s. In either case majors will work in close association with a department mentor; and those majors who do successfully complete the SCE will receive four credits toward graduation.

Senior Capstone Experience

Towards the end of their juinor year, majors will receive a "Senior Thesis Handbook" that will outline the specific timeline of their thesis process. This will include drafting and presenting thesis proposals, choosing a faculty mentor, deadlines for section and chapter drafts, and dates for individual and group meetings. They will spend their senior year working with their faculty mentor in devising and then writing their thesis paper. See below for examples of thesis projects.




2021 & 2022 Theses 

William Ayoub '22 “Just War Theory & its Application to the Vietnam War" (Advisor: Peter Weigel) 

Joshua Gastineau '22 “Utopia and Religion” (Advisor: Peter Weigel) 

Jason Economidis '22 “Instagram Culture: From Ruin to Ruism” (Advisor: Bin Song) 

Destiny Smith '21 "The Function(s) and Value(s) of Music: According to the Philosophical Approach in Western Music" (Advisors: Jonathan McCollum and Matthew McCabe)

Patrick Salerno '21 "Are Androids Free? Sci-Fi, A.I, and the Free Will Debate”  (Advisor: Peter Weigel)

Jennifer Shabrach '21 "The Importance of Humanistic medicine Relating to The Patient-Physician Relationship and Future of medical Practice" (Advisor: Jennifer Benson)

Sarah Cataldo '21  "An Altruistic Moral Obligation for Organ Donation" (Advisor: Mathew McCabe)

Elizabeth Lilly '21 "Dignity in Law" (Advisor: Mathew McCabe)



2020 Theses

Christopher Fuchs '20 “The Virtuous Archaeologist” (Advisors: Julie Markin and Matthew McCabe)  

April Jones '20 “Undermining Moral Responsibility, An Analysis, of the Insanity Defense and its Practical Applications” (Advisor: Matthew McCabe) 

Allison Hinshaw '20 “Wagering on Pascal: An Explication and Defense” (Advisors: Peter Weigel and Gabe Feinberg)

Liam Scott '20 “Suspending Certainty for Flow: A Philosophical Analysis of Flow Psychology” (Advisor: Bin Song) 





2019 & Older Theses

Alex Kincard '19 "Virtue Ethics in The Context of Sport" (Advisor: Matthew McCabe) 

Nicholas Scotto '18 "Self-Knowledge and the Just Life" (Advisor: Peter Weigel) 

Jack Despeaux '18 "Order in the Face of the Absurd: How the Environment and Romanticism Influence Existentialist Perspectives on Order" (Advisors: Richard Gillin and Peter Weigel) 

Benjamin Weinstein '18 "Nietzsche and Daoism: A New Philosophy" (Advisor: Peter Weigel) 

Jingjia Zhang '18 "Sympathy and Empathy of the Syrian Refugee Crisis" (Advisor: Matthew McCabe) 

Richard Funke '17 "Arguments for a Holistic Approach to Primitive Technologies" (Advisors: William Schindler and Kevin Brien) 

Alexis Jordan '17 "The Ethics of Morals Clauses in Athlete, League and Endorsement Contracts" (Advisors: Matthew McCabe and Susan Vowels) 

Anya Schultz '17 "Angling for the Meaning of Nature and the Need to Conserve it" (Advisors: Andrew Case and Jennifer Benson) 

Alyann Grant '17 "Perception and the External World" (Advisors: George Spilich and Matthew McCabe) 





Sample Thesis Timeline

Before Jr. Year

 Explore and Learn

Take advantage of the diverse offering of courses here at Washington College and within the Department of Philosophy and Religion to explore your interests and find topics/subjects that resonate with you.

Junior Year

 Hone your ideas

Enrolling in PHL 435 (Philosophical Methods) during the fall of your junior year will provide an excellent opportunity to turn your philosophical interests into workable philosophical questions. At the conclusion of your junior year, you'll be given the SCE guidelines packet mentioned above. Juniors are asked to submit a summer research plan where they detail steps to turn their philosophical questions into research proposals. 

Fall of Senior Year

 Propose Your Thesis

Having spent the summer researching your questions, you will spend the fall working on your thesis proposal, annotated bibliography, and yes the thesis itself! You will work with your peers in the department and the faculty in refining the scope and scale of your thesis, when it is deemed ready, you will start the writing process. 

Spring of Senior Year

 Write Your Thesis

You will be encouraged to take advantage of winter break to create as much of a working draft on your thesis as possible, using the spring semester to then turn your work from a draft to a polished thesis paper. Seniors who follow all the departmental deadlines and submit a polished, well reasoned paper will be considered for departmental honors come graduation.