PhD Students

Matthew Anzis

Social and Political Philosophy, European Philosophy
BS Iowa State University

Matt is a first-year doctoral student with primary research interests in social and political philosophy, especially insofar as it intersects with European philosophy. He is enjoying exploring new areas in his coursework and anticipates doing work in ethics and applied ethics in the future. Before coming to Georgetown, Matt completed a bachelor's degree with majors in mathematics and philosophy at Iowa State University and worked as an
                                                     analyst in the financial sector.

Michael Randall Barnes

Social & Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Applied Ethics (esp. Bioethics)
BEd University of Toronto
MA Carleton University
BA York University

Michael Barnes is a fifth-year PhD student. He is primarily interested in the relationship between social/political institutions and interpersonal ethics.This has led to a focus on concepts like oppression, domination, and exploitation. Michael also has a strong interest in the philosophy of language, and is currently writing a dissertation on the distinct ways speech maintains oppressive relationships. Since coming to Georgetown, Michael has become increasingly interested in bioethics, and currently serves as the Book Review Editor for the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Born in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, Michael has demonstrated a clear passion for moving to capital cities for school. Having completed degrees in both Toronto and Ottawa, Michael is excited to continue this habit at Georgetown.

Paul Berghaus

Ethics, History of Philosophy
BS, United States Military Academy
MDiv, Mid-America Reformed Seminary
MA, Texas A&M University

 Paul began the doctoral program in the fall of 2016. His research interests include ethics, history of philosophy (ancient and early modern), and philosophy of religion. He comes to the study of philosophy by way of teaching professional ethics in the military. Before enrolling at Georgetown, he spent close to twenty years on active duty in the Army first as a combat arms officer and later a chaplain. Outside of his studies, Paul enjoys making the most of the time he has with his wife Mary and their five children. 

Paul Cudney

Paul CudneyLater Wittgenstein, Metaethics, Philosophy of Mind
BA University of Arkansas
MA University of Arkansas

Paul developed an interest in moral realism while working towards his master's degree at the University of Arkansas. After completing his MA at Arkansas, with a thesis defending realism about moral properties, Paul began the Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida. He spent two years there before transferring to Georgetown. Most of this time at USF was devoted to thinking about issues in the philosophy of mind, especially perception and nonconceptual content. Additionally, the work of the later Wittgenstein is never far from Paul's mind and drives much of his research into contemporary issues.

Megan Dean

Megan DeanFeminist Philosophy, European Philosophy (especially phenomenology and the
work of Michel Foucault), theories of body and embodiment

BAH University of King's College and Dalhousie University
MA University of Alberta

Megan is a third year PhD student whose research focuses on understandings and experiences of the body, particularly from feminist Foucauldian and phenomenological perspectives. Her research interests also extend to critical disability theory, fat studies, critical race theory, philosophy of science, and bioethics. Recent work explores the ways eating practices like veganism can shape experiences of the body, the experience of fat shame as a form of oppressive shame, and the ways that the heteronormativity of medical spaces marginalize LGBTQIA patients. Megan is a founder and co-coordinator of the Diversifying Syllabi reading group (, member of the Georgetown's Women in Philosophy Climate Coalition, and coordinator of the European Philosophy Workshop for 2015-2016.

Megan is from the East Coast of Canada, and before moving to DC spent two years living close to the Rocky Mountains in Edmonton, Alberta. On her days off, she enjoys learning about her adopted country, yoga, trying to keep her balcony garden alive, and watching sci fi.

Clark R. Donley

Clark DonleyEthics, Metaethics, History of Ethics (Aristotle & Kant)
BSFS (Culture & Politics) Georgetown University
MA (Latin American Studies) Georgetown University
MA (Philosophy) Tufts University

Clark is a third-year student in the PhD program. His current work focuses on ethics and metaethics, with particular attention the significance of the social nature of agency. This involves looking at both the relevant contemporary literature as well as select perspectives from the history of philosophy, such as Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel. Clark also maintains interests in Latin American philosophy, bioethics, and social and political philosophy. Outside of philosophy, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors, reading literature, and doing nerdy stuff with open source software.

Madeline Eller

Contemporary Feminist Philosophy (esp. Feminist Epistemology, Theories of Autonomy, and Embodiment)
MA Syracuse University

Madeline is a first-year doctoral student at Georgetown after previously completing her MPhil in philosophy at Syracuse University. She has a background in analytic metaphysics and philosophy of mind, but her current research interests are in contemporary feminist philosophy, particularly feminist epistemology, theories of autonomy, and embodiment, and has previously published work on body shape and oppression.

Madeline currently serves as a member of Georgetown’s MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) program, as well as working with PIKSI (Philosophy in an Inclusive Key) in the past. She enjoys exploring the DMV and can sometimes be found at the 9:30 Club or Black Cat on a Friday night when she isn’t working.

Benjamin Elzinga

Benjamin Elzinga2Social Epistemology, Epistemology
BA Grand Valley State University
MA Georgetown University

Benjamin is a fifth year PhD candidate in the philosophy program focusing on social epistemology and currently writing a dissertation on epistemic agency. In the dissertation, he takes a critical eye towards the Sellarsian strand of the post-Kantian tradition and argues that responsible epistemic agents not only engage in practices of fully discursive reason-giving but also in less than fully discursive practices of education. This allows him to indulge his interests in Kant, Fichte, and Sellars and explore recent topics in speech act theory and feminist epistemology. He also has side interests in meta-philosophy, philosophy of mind and the problems of free will.

In his spare time, Benjamin enjoys staring ineffectually at music paraphernalia online, playing guitar, watching hockey and playing video games.

Jason Farr

Ethics, Philosophy of Language, Pragmatism
BA University of Virginia
MA Northern Illinois University

Jason is a second year PhD student with primary interests in pragmatist/expressivist/anti-representational approaches to understanding normativity, objectivity, and discursive practice. He swoons for works by Brandom, Wittgenstein, Sellars, Carnap, Dewey, Thomasson, Price, etc. Other philosophical interests of Jason’s include: truth (esp. prosententialism and other deflationary views), normative ethics, and environmental and animal ethics.

Outside of philosophy, Jason enjoys hiking, identifying plants and plant communities, playing music, pondering about various personalities and their corresponding motivational structures, and eating all of the bread.

Quentin Fisher

Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Action, Philosophy of Law
BA College of Wooster
MA Georgetown University

Quentin is a third-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy. His research is focused primarily on the philosophy of action and the philosophy of language (especially Frege and Wittgenstein). He also dabbles in other areas including psychiatric ethics and military law.

In 2016-17 Quentin will serve as an assistant for Political and Social Thought through the School of Foreign Service. He is also the co-president of the Georgetown Philosophy of Language Workshop. (Please feel free to email for details.) Outside of Georgetown, Quentin was a 2016 summer researcher at the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Ashli Godfrey

Feminist Philosophy, Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy
BS, Ball State University

Ashli is a first year doctoral student with interests in feminist philosophy, ethics, and social and political philosophy. She is particularly interested in philosophy of justice and oppression from an intersectional approach. Ashli grew up in small town Indiana and attended Ball State University, where she earned a double major in Philosophy and Psychology. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and snuggling with her three pets.

Colin Hickey

Colin HickeyMoral / Political Philosophy
BA with Distinction (2009), University of Colorado - Boulder, Philosophy with
Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies

Colin is a doctoral candidate whose primary research interests are in moral and political philosophy (esp. issues in global justice, bioethics, and environmental ethics). His dissertation, “Global Climate Justice and Individual Duties”, is on the normative underpinnings, shape, and scope of our individual duties with respect to climate change. He is generally interested in what it takes to live a justifiable life and the interface between the individual responsibility and the social/structural features one is embedded in. Colin is a Graduate Fellow for the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and has coached Georgetown’s undergraduate Ethics and Bioethics Bowl teams for a number of years.

Before coming to Georgetown, Colin spent his time in the mountains of Colorado playing sports and enjoying the outdoors. Now he spends most of his free time dancing, and was recently crowned champion of Georgetown’s “Dancing with the Hoyas”.

McKay Holland

McKayMoral Psychology, Social & Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind
B.A. Westminster College
M.A. Brandeis University

McKay is a fourth-year doctoral student sketching a dissertation about the social bases of agency and self-respect. He's specifically interested in the interplay between relational conceptions of autonomy and social and environmental niche construction. He also has interests in environmental ethics, the relation between emotion and rationality, friendship, social ontology, and Spinoza.

Since 2014 McKay has served as Managing Editor of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal (KIEJ), and will continue with the journal in a support role through 2016.

McKay is a native of Salt Lake City, where he worked in politics, public education, and doing finish carpentry before relocating to the east coast. He likes to bike, run, rock climb, and when he can, waterski.

Hailey Huget

Hailey HugetMoral / Political Philosophy
BA (Philosophy and Middle Eastern Studies), Wellesley College

Hailey is primarily interested in ethics and moral psychology. Since coming to Georgetown, she has also developed interests in both feminist philosophy and ancient philosophy, especially Aristotle.

Before coming to Georgetown, Hailey lived in New York and DC, working in various paralegal-type capacities. Hailey enjoys watching campy ‘80s sci-fi movies, making sushi, and eating her mistakes.

Joey Jebari

Joey JebariCognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, Moral Psychology, Metaethics
BA UMass Boston

Joey’s research is highly interdisciplinary. His primary focus is on figuring out how cognitive and neuroscientific research on cooperation and decision-making can inform issues in philosophy and, in particular, in ethics. As such, his research covers a relatively wide scope—ranging from the metaphysics of mind to our obligations to animals and from formal models of human evolution to experiments investigating the behavior of toddlers. Nevertheless, he swears it all hangs together somehow.

Joey also has a long-standing love of Kantian philosophy. For this reason, Kant’s insights are never far from his mind. Indeed, he considers it a win whenever he discovers that empirical research can plausibly be construed as corroborating a broadly Kantian picture, which happens surprisingly often.

Sara Kolmes    

 Bioethics, Ethics, Metaethics
 BA Gonzaga University 
 MA Florida State University

Sara is a first year doctoral student working at the intersection of bioethics and meta-ethics. She is interested in the ways in which meta-ethical issues can impact the outcomes of real-world bioethical cases. Before coming to Georgetown, Sara did her
masters coursework at Florida State University, and attended Gonzaga University as an

                                                        Outside of philosophy, Sara enjoys science fiction, concerts, and hiking.

Nabina Liebow

Nabina LiebowEthics, Social Philosophy, Feminist Theory
BA Carleton College

Nabina works primarily in applied ethics, social philosophy, feminist theory, moral psychology, and the philosophy of race. She is currently working on her dissertation that explores moral responsibility and microaggressions. In addition, Nabina is passionate about making philosophy accessible and exciting to students from all backgrounds.

Nabina grew up in Seattle, WA and went on to earn her B.A. from Carleton College (2011) where she majored in Philosophy and concentrated in Women’s and Gender Studies. In her spare time, Nabina enjoys jamming on her guitar, reading graphic novels, and exploring parks and wilderness areas.

Deidre Nelms

  20th Century European Philosophy, Analytic Philosophy of Language
  BA Amherst College

Deidre is a first-year doctoral student currently most interested in questions pertaining to language, including child language acquisition, existential claims, aporias concerning the origins and evolution of language, and the role of grammar in constituting subjectivity. She hopes to draw from a variety of resources, such as ordinary language philosophy, logical analysis, linguistics, developmental psychology, psychoanalysis, and classic 20th century philosophical texts. Her negative influences include Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, Melanie Klein, Stanley Cavell, and Paul Ricoeur.  

David Reese

David Reese photo  Social & Political Philosophy
  (specifically War, Peace, and Veteran Issues),
  Continental Philosophy, and Feminist Philosophy

  BA, University of Florida 
  BA, Florida International University 
  MA, University of Oregon
                                                              Personal Website

David is a first year doctoral student. His area of research is Social and Political Philosophy examined from diverse schools of thought including Continental, American, Native American, Feminist, and Queer Philosophy. His work centers on the issue of War and Peace specifically questioning and examining the manner in which ideologies about gender, nationalism, patriotism, and heroism shape the lives of those who serve in the military and engage/disengage the population at large when it comes to state use of force.

Prior to coming to Georgetown, David completed an MA in Philosophy at the University of Oregon with his thesis, Regulation of Bodies as Gendered Nationalistic Ideology: Physically Wounded Veterans as Political Props, in which he demonstrates, using the 2014 State of the Union Address as an example, that the public honoring of physically wounded veterans hides the emotional, psychological, social, and moral wounds of military service, creating a normative veteran identity based on mental toughness, and essentializes all veterans as honorable by default. Using Michel Foucault’s notion of Panopticism from Discipline and Punish, he argues that this unquestioned heroism of the veteran disciplines the nation, disengages the population from involvement, and enables unchecked, perpetual war. In response, he proposes that we avoid thanking veterans publicly and abstractly, instead approaching each and every veteran personally in full recognition of their unique set of relations. This would improve veteran reintegration, politically engage the population in discourse regarding military conflict, and ultimately serve as a check on the use of state violence.

David is a Sillerman Senior Fellow at the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights and founder and head blogger at The Critical Veteran website. He is a military veteran, having served as an infantry paratrooper at the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division with combat deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq. In his non-professional life, he likes riding motorcycles, playing drums, running, playing ice hockey, and spending time with his partner, Carolina, and daughter, Isabella.

Joseph Rees

Joseph ReesSocial and Political Philosophy, European Philosophy, Moral Psychology
BA American University

Joseph’s research lies at the intersection of social and political philosophy, European philosophy, and moral psychology.  Currently, Joseph is writing a dissertation on the pragmatics of recognitive exchanges.  Specifically, he seeks to uncover and critically assess the impact of the Romantic worldview on the norms governing the bestowal of recognition as well as its solicitation in self-presentation.  This project draws from an eclectic group of sources, including theories of recognition from both historical and contemporary philosophers, speech act theory, theories of second-personal engagement, and the autobiographical writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  In the department, Joseph serves as the head of the Georgetown Philosophy Pedagogy Initiative and is also the winner of the Graduate Student Organization’s award for teaching excellence. Joseph also serves as an Editorial Assistant for the journal Ethics. In the past, he has served as the Graduate Philosophy Student Organization Representative, as the coordinator of the European Philosophy Workshop, and as an assistant to the Political & Social Thought course.  During the 2016-2017 academic year, Joseph will be serving as a Normative Orders Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Frankfurt in Germany.

Karen Rice

Karen grew up in St. Louis, MO, went to William Jewell College, a small liberal arts college near Kansas City, MO (which totally inaccurately refers to itself as the 'Harvard of the Midwest' in aspirational brochures), and spent a year studying abroad at Oxford (which is rather more accurate in the claims it makes about itself in brochures).
Her main philosophical interests (so far) are existentialism, phenomenology, feminist philosophy, and the practical, justice-y parts of social and political philosophy. These are liable to change, because the world is a fascinating place and there's lots of amazing philosophy out there.
When not philosophizing in and about class-related ideas, Karen philosophizes about everything else she encounters, including good food, immersive movies, and transcendently great live concerts.

Nanette Ryan

Moral and political philosophy, Metaethics
BA(Honors) Monash University
MA University of Western Ontario

Nanette is a second year doctoral student primarily interested in moral and political philosophy, and metaethics. Before coming to Georgetown she earned a Masters in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and a Bachelor of Arts, graduating with first-class honours, from Monash University, Australia. When not consumed by philosophy Nanette enjoys exploring the world, eating good food (especially if it is made by Lorraine Ryan), and sleeping in.

Melayna Haley Schiff

melayna schiff photo

Philosophy of Language, Social Philosophy, Clinical Psychology, 20th Century European Philosophy
BA New College of Florida

Melayna started the doctoral program in philosophy at Georgetown in August of 2016. Her research interests bridge philosophy of language, social philosophy, and clinical psychology, and she has a tendency to draw inspiration from figures in 20th century and contemporary European philosophy. Besides her research, she is committed to her two dogs Suki and Misha who, like her, enjoy long walks in the woods and sleeping.  

Keyvan Shafiei

Philosophy of mind, 19th & 20th century European Philosophy
BA University of California, San Diego

Keyvan is a second year doctoral student whose primary interests lie at the intersection of philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and philosophy of psychiatry. Within this framework, he has recently become interested in interdisciplinary questions concerning mass incarceration in the United States, and the deleterious effects of carceral practices, specifically solitary confinement, on human psychology.

Adi Shafir

Adi Shafir3Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Science, 20th-Century European Philosophy, Bioethics
BA University of Pennsylvania

Adi is a graduate student in the philosophy program. She majored in Cognitive Science as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania and continues to have an interest in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, as well as growing interests in 20th century European philosophy and in bioethics.

Gordon R. Shannon

Gordon ShannonEthics, Political Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy
Master of Letters, University of St. Andrews
MA (Honors) University of Dundee

Gordon is a sixth-year doctoral student and a pre-doctoral fellow at Strata in Logan, Utah. His research encompasses the intersection of ethics and social, economic, and political life, focused on the moral significance of associations, individuality, liberty, and the good life. Gordon is currently writing a dissertation that addresses contemporary debates in rights theory from a neo-Aristotelian perspective. At Strata, Gordon is working on the development of business ethics curricula for business schools.

Teaching is central to Gordon’s professional interest. He believes strongly in the significance of both vocational and liberal education apart from an academic focus on research, in order that students will be better positioned to order and direct their lives to the best of their capacities.

Outside his professional work, Gordon enjoys hiking, videos games, studying languages, and is presently co-authoring the first of a series of novels.

Jeremy Sheehan

 Ethics, Ancient Philosophy, 19th-Century German Philosophy
 BA University of Maryland, College Park

 Jeremy is a first-year PhD student. He is interested in the ancient and Kantian approaches to ethics, with special interest in    moral motivation - why should we care about being good people? - and the roles of reason and emotion in moral    decision-making. Jeremy loves Kant and his German progeny, and he also has a soft spot for Catholic moral theology.

Outside the ivory tower, Jeremy spends his time reading Russian literature and shaking his head in disappointment at his beloved Baltimore Ravens.

Matthew Shields

Matt ShieldsSocial Epistemology/Ontology, Philosophy of Language, 20th Century European

BA Yale University

Matt is a rising fourth year in Georgetown’s PhD program. His interests lie in social epistemology/ontology, philosophy of language, and 20th century European philosophy (in particular, the work of Heidegger and Arendt). His dissertation looks at how historical and contemporary treatments of the nature of meaning face serious difficulties in providing an account of conceptual change. He received his BA from Yale University magna cum laude and with distinction.

Omar Talhouk

omar talhouk bio photo

19th Century German Philosophy, Classical American Pragmatism, Epistemology, and Metaphysics
BA/MA American University of Beirut

Omar is a first-year PhD student with primary interests in 19th century German philosophy, classical American pragmatism, Epistemology, and Metaphysics. He also has a budding interest in the philosophy of law and social philosophy. Before coming to Georgetown, Omar was a part-time lecturer at his alma mater, the American University of Beirut, from which he has received both a B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy. Academic pursuits aside, Omar insists on maintaining a pseudo-career in acting, writing, and directing (for both theatre and film).

Gerald Taylor

Ethics, Moral Psychology, Philosophy of Action (esp. free will, moral
responsibility, and personal autonomy)

BA Ohio State University
MA Georgia State University

Gerald is a first-year doctoral student, and though he is still in the process of finding his philosophical self, he has found the areas of ethics, moral psychology, and philosophy of action (esp. free will, moral responsibility, and personal autonomy) to be especially interesting thus far. His hope is to be able to write a dissertation somewhere at the intersection of all these things, but he also looks forward to exploring other areas of philosophy that are unfamiliar to him.

When he isn’t academically philosophizing, Gerald enjoys recreationally philosophizing, exercising, reading and writing, playing and listening to music, watching sports, being a beer snob, getting the most out of his Netflix subscription, and playing a good game of chess.

Daniel Threet

Daniel ThreetPolitical Philosophy, Ethics
BA College of Charleston
MA University of Houston

Dan is a fourth-year doctoral student who works primarily in social and political philosophy and normative ethics. He is currently developing a dissertation project on the implications of relational egalitarianism for individuals in their private lives. The project explores whether and to what degree relational egalitarians can protect a division of moral labor under which individuals have discretion in their private choices. Generally, Dan is interested in questions about the relation between the personal and the political, the scope of justice, liberalism, and democratic theory. He is currently the book review editorial assistant for Ethics.

Before coming to philosophy, Dan studied modern and contemporary literature, and he is still particularly fond of Beckett's novels. In his spare time, he is a very slow, very stubborn runner.

Katherine Ward

Katherine Ward 2Phenomenology, 20th Century European Philosophy, Heidegger
BM Loyola University New Orleans
MA San Francisco State University

Katherine is a third year doctoral student. She is currently exploring the role of breakdown (especially social breakdown) in revealing the underlying structures of personhood. She is most interested in the possibility that breakdown experiences may provide a privileged phenomenological standpoint from which to do ontology. This project draws on the work of contemporary and classic 20th century phenomenologists (primarily Heidegger) and the insights of feminist standpoint epistemologists. She also has interests in bioethics, philosophy of science, and political philosophy. Katherine is an active member of the Diversifying Syllabi summer reading group as well as the European Philosophy Workshop. She was recently selected to be a teaching assistant for the upcoming Political and Social Thought course in the School of Foreign Service.

Before moving to DC, Katherine lived in San Francisco for many years where she had the privilege of working and eating in some of the best restaurants in the United States. Ask her about her favorites!

Molly Wilder

Molly Wilder2

Philosophy of Law, Ethics, Social & Political Philosophy
BA  Swarthmore College, Linguistics
MA Tufts University, Philosophy
JD Georgetown University Law Center

Molly has just received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and is currently developing a dissertation that brings together the professional ethics of lawyers, neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics, and feminist theories of relational autonomy. She wants to know, can you be a (really) good person and a (really) good lawyer at the same time? Beyond her dissertation, Molly has varied philosophical interests, including philosophy of tort law, children’s rights, privacy, and communication. When not philosophizing, Molly enjoys reading children’s fantasy, finding places to eat great vegan food, and engaging in witty banter.