Student presents paper at philosophy conference

In October, sophomore philosophy major Felipe Pereira was selected to present his research paper, “Libertarianism and a Counterfactual Account of Freedom” at the Undergraduate Philosophy Conference at Southern Illinois University.

In the paper, Pereira argued that we all have free will. The paper began as just an assignment for his meta-physics class, but Pereira later found himself editing the paper multiple times with feedback from his professor, even after he had recieved his grade. “I think free will is a fascinating topic,” Pereira said.

Sophomore Felipe Pereira presented his paper on free will at the Undergraduate Philosophy
Conference at Southeastern Illinois University.
Photo courtesy of Felipe Pereira

When Assistant Professor Travis Timmerman sent an email to his students calling for papers for the conference, Pereira offered pu his work with little confidence, but was pleasantly surprised when his paper was accepted.

Pereira said that at the conference it was nice to meet other students wanting to pursue graduate degrees in philosophy, and not just taking on the philosophy major as a secondary major or as part of a path to law school.

After a presenter was finished reading his or her paper, the audience had a Q & A with the presenter and Pereira said he enjoyed getting many different comments on his paper.

The conference’s keynote speaker also gave the presenters feedback on their papers. “Presenting your papers to students and professors who are engaged in the field is an outstanding experience,” Pereira said.

It seems that while philosophy majors are interested in their grades, they are also interested in philosophy outside of the classroom. “I think a great part of the major is that other students taking philosophy classes are interested in talking about it outside of class,” said philosophy major Zachary Moore.

Even though Timmerman has only been teaching philosophy classes at SHU for two years, he has seen the program grow, and has seen the positive impact of his classes on students.

“The introductory classes provide philosophy majors with the foundations they need to take more advanced philosophy courses,” Timmerman said. “But they also provide every student with the incredibly important (and extremely practical) writing and critical thinking skills necessary for any career. The advanced courses provide students with a deep understanding of some of the most important subfields in ethics and contribute to providing the students with a well-rounded philosophical education.”

Veronica Gaspa can be reached at