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Faculty and Student Research

People outside the field often wonder what sort of research philosophers do. Philosophical research involves reading, analysis, thinking, responding to arguments, and developing and defending original views. It sometimes involves the collection of empirical data, depending on the subject.

Some philosophers work on increasing our understanding of classical theories in the history of philosophy, and others make contributions to the current state of thinking in their specialties. Philosophical scholarship can explore theoretical issues, for instance: how we enumerate objects in the world, what constitutes a reason for action, whether we can make sense of human freedom in a world governed by the laws of physics, what it is to perceive color, and so on. It can also further the discussion on current practical debates, such as whether there should be legal restrictions on the use of drugs, whether climate change implies moral mandates, what (if anything) government should do for the impoverished, and many more.

Undergraduate Research

Philosophy students at William & Mary are engaged in their own research projects as Monroe Scholars, as independent researchers with Charles Center summer grants, as students enrolled in independent studies, and as students writing Honors theses. All of these student scholars work with at least one faculty adviser. If you are interested in getting involved in philosophy research, ask your favorite professor, a professor who works in your area of interest, or the Department Chair about how to get started. Here are some helpful links:

Pursuing honors in Philosophy

List of successfully defended honors theses in Philosophy at the Charles Center website

Summer research funding through the Charles Center

Current Faculty Research

The Department of Philosophy at William & Mary is filled with world-renowned scholars. To get an idea of what the philosophers here are working on, see the descriptions of faculty research interests and current projects on individual faculty profile pages. You can also see the covers of published faculty books, with links to descriptions, on our Department's homepage.