Honors in Philosophy

Students who wish to undertake a more intensive and extensive program of study, including seminars and independent work, are invited to apply for the honors program during Winter Quarter of the junior year.

Please email the Student Services Officer (ksahgal [at] stanford.edu (ksahgal[at]stanford[dot]edu)) or visit building 70, 71K. Please check the Stanford Bulletin (ExploreDegrees) for the most up-to-date requirements. Please see the Philosophy Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection for previous thesis titles and writers.

Intended Plan of Study

With their application, candidates should submit an intended plan of study for the remainder of the junior and the senior years. It should include at least 5 units of Senior Tutorial (PHIL 196 Tutorial, Senior Year) during Autumn and/or Winter quarter(s) of the senior year. Students who are applying to Bing Honors College may use the same application for the philosophy honors program. In the quarter preceding the tutorial, students should submit an essay proposal to the Philosophy Director of Undergraduate Studies and determine an advisor.

Honors Seminar (Junior Year)

Students applying for honors should enroll in PHIL 199 Seminar for Prospective Honors Students during the Spring Quarter of the junior year.

Bing Honors College

Bing Honors College is a three-week summer program prior to the start of the senior year. Honors students work independently and with other participants to research and shape their honors thesis under the guidance of a Philosophy faculty member and the support of a Philosophy graduate student teaching assistant. For more information, contact the Undergraduate Student Services Officer.

The Honors Thesis

The length of the honors essay may vary considerably depending on the problem and the approach; usually it falls somewhere between 7,500 and 12,500 words. This essay may use work in previous seminars and courses as a starting point, but it cannot be the same essay that has been used, or is being used, in some other class or seminar. It must be a substantially new and different piece of work reflecting work in the tutorials.

A completed draft of the essay is submitted to the adviser at the end of the Winter Quarter of the senior year. Any further revisions must be finished by the second week of May in Spring Quarter, when three copies of the essay are to be given to the Undergraduate Student Services Officer. The honors essay is graded by the advisor together with a second reader, chosen by the adviser in consultation with the student. The student also provides an oral defense of the thesis at a meeting with the advisor and second reader. The essay must receive a grade of 'A-' or better for the student to receive honors.


Admission is selective on the basis of demonstrated ability in Philosophy, including an average grade of at least 'A-' in a substantial number of Philosophy courses and progress towards satisfying the requirements of the major. Honors tutorials represent units in addition to the 60-unit requirement.

Philosophy Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection 1963-2020


Laura Lin

     Henry James: The Perils of Understanding

Jack McKinnon

     De Separabili Anima


Ryan Othniel Kearns

     Contextual Trust

Ryane Liao

     Death and Taxes: A Circumscribed Defense of Capital Punishment

William Sallomi

     Fair-Play Obligations and Democratic Representations


Adrian Liu

     Thesis: "Problems of Comparison in Choice Situations"

Gonzalo Majluf

     Thesis: "'I am now speaking, and you are now listening.' Wittgenstein, Hume, and hinge propositions"


Cameron Hubbard

     Thesis: "Greatness, Classical and Modern"

Sarah Vernallis

     Thesis: "Slur Reclamation as Illocutiounary Speech Act: Methods and Difficulties"


Alison Zilversmit

     Thesis: "Irigaray’s Feminine Divine: An Anthropomorphic Divine "'For Us'"


Sandy Huang

      Thesis: "Maximizing Human Talents via Self-Dissatisfaction: Elitism, Perfectionism, and Culture in Nietzsche’s Schopenhauer as Educator"

Maya Krishnan

      Thesis: "Human Foundations of Rational Knowledge: Infinity, History and Enlightenment in Kant and Husserl"

      *Winner of the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize

Marek Twarzynski

      Thesis: "Objectivity, Belief, and Epistemic Values: The Role of Background Beliefs in Cree Science"


Tyler Haddow 

      Thesis: "Morality, Luck, and the Grounded Life"

Arthur Lau

      Thesis: "Trust, Temptation, and Epistemic Self-Governance"


Josefina Massot

      Thesis: "From Aliens to Alephs"

Alexander Topacio

      Thesis: "Across Times and Worlds: Thought Experiments and Personal Identity"


Rachel Cristy

       Thesis: "The Evolution of W.E.B. Du Bois’s Philosophy of Race"

Eli Lichtenstein

      Thesis: "Cognitive Values and the Problem of Theory Choice"

Christy Wong

      Thesis: "Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” and a Defense of the Epistemic Significance of Analytic Statements"


Anuk Arundpragasam

       Thesis: "Naturalism and Normativity: Themes from Robert Brandom’s 'Making it Explicit'"

Benamin Hersh  

      Thesis: "The Information-Processing Theory of Aggression: A Case Study in Scientific Development"

Nal Kalchbrenner 

      Consistency of PA: On Proof in Wilhelm Ackermann's "Begrundung des 'tertium non datur'"


Alexander Coley

      Thesis: "The Normative Dimension of Action: A Constitutivist Reply to Skepticism about Practical Reason"

Victoria Ha

      Thesis: "What’s Wrong with Child Labor? A Critique of Welfare Economics"

Esther Kang

      Thesis: "If We Are Doing Aesthetics: Ontolological Necessities in Performative Interpretations of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin"

Christine Kim

      Thesis: "The Stoic Citizen"

Cole Leahy

      Thesis: "Presence, Pretense, and Pragmatics"

Katy Meadows

      Thesis: "The Psychology of the Pyrrhonian Skeptic"

Daniel David Slate

      Thesis: "The Working Mind: the Philosophy of Eric Hoffer"

Philip Spitzer

      Thesis: "The Success of the Fading and Dancing Arguments"


Phil Galligan

      Thesis: "Nature and Reform in Montaigne"

Christopher Simpson

      Thesis: "A Critique of, and Response to, Michael Sandel’s 'Case Against Perfection'"

Robert Steel

      Thesis: "The Knowledge Principle"

Noah Syme

      Thesis: "What David Lewis Didn’t Know"


Wesley Holliday

      Thesis: "Myth of Multiple Realization"


Dean Eckles

      Thesis: "Radical Interpretability and Parasitism: Justifying the Principle of Charity"

Matthew Echemendy

      Thesis: "Richard Rufus on Species and Apprehension"

Melissa Fusco

      Thesis: "Quine and the Bilingual Mind"

Conor Mayo-Wilson

      Thesis: "Infinity, God, and Mathematical Rigor in Cauchy’s Calculus"

Govind Persad

      Thesis: "Body Right, Discontinuous Identity, and Moral Authority: A new defense of advance directives in dementia dases"

Elizabeth Valentine Phillips

      Thesis: "Toward an Understanding of the Moral Status of Children"

Susanna Rinard

      Thesis: "A Collection of Three Papers"


Corinne Gartner

      Thesis: "Self-Achievement Condition on Eudaimonia: Relating Autonomous Action and Well-being"

Tess Hand-Bender 

      Thesis: "Husserlian Theories of Indexicality"

Shawn Standefer

      Thesis: "What do you mean ‘we’? Expanding on Kaplan"

Reuben Veek

      Thesis: "To Basics – On the Shortcomings of the Human Rights Framework and the Importance of Respect for Persons"


Victoria Brown

      Thesis: "Can Past Deprivation Excuse Present Depravity?"

Rebecca Dowell

      Thesis: "Event Segmentation in an Action-Organized Task"

Zachary Gerson

      Thesis: "Potential and the Limits of Applying Evolutionar: Accounts of the Origins of Morality to Ethics"

Daniel McKenzie

      Thesis: "Punishment, Community, & Persons"

Kristin Primus

      Thesis: "Metaphor, What is Said, and the Cultivation of Intimacies"

Marcus Smith

      Thesis: "Distributive Justice, Disability, & Equality"

Meng Xi

      Thesis: "Against a Relativist Interpretation of Kuhn’s World Changes: An Exegetical Defense of Structure’s Chapter X"


David Garfield

      Thesis: "What is This Fitness Thing?  A Pluralistic Account of Biology’s Most Difficult Term"

Mark James

      Thesis: "Valuing Together: Christine Korsgaard and the creation on shared values"

Rebecca Whitehurst

      Thesis: "Resonance: Reflections on Experience and Self-fashioning"


Shaudy Danaye-Elmi

      Thesis: "Keeping Our Expectations in Check: Clarifying the Dissolution of Hume’s Problem"

Tania Lombrozo

      Thesis: "Teleology and Optimality in Adaptive Explanations of Cognition"

Rebecca Talbott

      Thesis: "The Natural Choice: Making Parenting A Necessarily Chosen Obligation"


Jacob Eisenstein  

      Thesis: "Computers, Creativity, Kuhn: Philosophy of Science and the Artistic Machine"

Stephen Kleha

      Thesis: "Humanity, Distributive Justice and International Morality"

Jeffrey Scarborough

      Thesis: "Objectivity and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge"

Andrew Shen

      Thesis: "From a Moral Foundation: A New Approach to the Problem of Personal Identity"

Jonathan Weil

       Thesis: "The Nature of Experience"


Joyce M. Ho

      Thesis: "Matters of Life and Death: A Comparative Study of Contemporary Chinese and Western Views on Euthanasia"

Paul Raymore

      Thesis: "Causation Without Closure: A Methodological Strategy for Solving the Problem of Mental Causation"

William Reagon

      Thesis: "The Construction of a Scientific Discipline: Ernst Mayr, George Gaylord Simpson, and the Society for the Study of Evolution"


Eric Horn

      Thesis: "The Place of Humans in the World: A Zhuangzian System of Environmental Ethics"


Thomas H. Arnold

      Thesis: "Berkeley, Mind, and Free Will"

McPherson S. Beall

      Thesis: "The Role of Consciousness in Personal Identity: A Refutation of Non-Reductionism"

Eric Cope

      Thesis: "Metaphysics, Nihilism, and Difference: Heidegger and Nietzche"

Benj Hellie

      Axiom Justification in Tait's Philosophy of Mathematics

Angela Napili 

      Thesis: "Action in Charles Peirce’s Philosophy of Mathematics"

Tina M. Villalobos 

      Thesis: "Darwin and Paley: A Dialectical Relationship Between Natural Theology and Evolutionary Theories of Morality"

Rasmus Winther

      Thesis: "The Role of the Environment in Causing Organic Variation: An Examination of Charles Darwin’s Views on Inheritance and      Variation"


Sondra Bacharach

      Thesis: "Form and Function in Modern Movement Architecture"


Jason Friedman

      Thesis: "T.S. Kuhn and Genetics Textbooks"


Stephen A. Brada

      Thesis: "A Cartesian Medical Ethic: The Final Degree of Wisdom Arising from Mind-Body Dualism"

C.F. Jr. Delaney

      Thesis: "Remarks on Intentionality"

Patrick Devine

      Thesis: "Custom and Sympathy in Hume’s Political Psychology"

Teri Hopper

      Thesis: "She Was Ignored: Ida Noddack and the Discovery of Nuclear Fission"

Stephen Irish

      Thesis: "Understanding Mind and Brain: A Wittgensteinian Perspective on Paul and Patricia Churchlands’ Eliminative Materialism"

Dave Smith

      Thesis: "Explaining Change and Natural Change in Aristotle"


Hugh Rhys Bethell

      Thesis: "Right Versions of an Unreal World: Truth in an Irrealist Context"

Steven B. Fram

      Thesis: An Examination of Moral Consideration.

Mike Jacovides

      Thesis: "Strict Laws and the Mental: A Critique of Donald Davidson’s Philosophy of Mind"

Christine Jolls

      Thesis: "Towards and Ideal Deontology?: Stripping Down the Subject in Kant and Rawls"

Kirstie McCornock

      Thesis: "Kant on the Morality of Lying"

David M. Robb

      Thesis: "Mental Images and Pictures: An Inquiry into Representational Format"

Eric Stiles 

      Thesis: "Philosophy in Primary and Secondary Education"

Kevin S. Woodhouse

      Thesis: "Persons and Concern"


Bill Bristow

      Thesis: "Naturalism in Defense of Indeterminacy"

Josefine Nauckhoff

      Thesis: "Kant’s Free Play of the Faulties in Aesthetic Experience: Key to a Universal Ethic?"


Samuel K. Aronson

      Thesis: "Kierkegaard and Hegel on Man and God"

Marc Kretschmer

      Thesis: "Chomsky and Searle: Towards a Theory of Language"


Matthew Handle

      Thesis: "Weakness of Will"

Jenny E. Ross

      Thesis: "The Concept of Competence to Consent to or Refuse Medical Treatment"

Tom Smith 

      Thesis: "On Self-Deception: A Conceptual Quest"


Jeffrey Tanji

      Thesis: "Aristotelian Biology and Modern Biological Theory: A Contrast and Comparison of Three Concepts"


Gary Mangelsdorf

      Thesis: "Nietzsche’s Theory of Truth"


James R. Soloman 

      Thesis: "Natural Law and Natural Man in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas"