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Pursuing honors in philosophy, Trustee Scholar Scott Wisniewski ’06 questioned “whether what we can imagine can ever serve as a guide to what is physically possible.” A double major in philosophy and government and law, he is finishing an honors thesis on necessitarianism, the doctrine that events are inevitably determined by preceding causes, under the direction of Julie Yoo, assistant professor of philosophy.

His inspiration for the project came when he studied Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, as a junior.

“One of my conclusions was that his quest for synthetic a priori [gained through reason, intuition or other non-experiential sources] knowledge was misguided,” he says. “What he should have been searching for was necessary a posteriori [obtained by experience] knowledge. I talked about my ideas with Professor Yoo and discovered this was one of her research interests. I couldn’t have asked for a better adviser. She can explain the most difficult concepts in such a way that you can’t fail to understand them.”

Wisniewski says he knew philosophy was ideal for him “from about my second week in Philosophy 101. I love the intellectual rigor and feeling that you’re progressing toward a definite intellectual goal. The challenge of having to think of ethereal topics in a manner based upon the most rigorous mathematical logic is a challenge no other subject offers, and one I thrive on.”

The president of Philosophy Society and editor of the society’s Philosophy Journal, Wisniewski plans to pursue both a doctorate in philosophy and law degree. He interned with the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office in Scranton, Pa., assisting with preparation of legal briefs and other trial materials as well as collecting information on bail forfeitures. He hopes to teach legal philosophy or work as an appellate attorney focusing on Bill of Rights issues.

Selected from among Lafayette’s top applicants, Trustee Scholars like Wisniewski have distinguished themselves through exceptional academic achievement in high school. They receive from Lafayette an annual minimum scholarship of $7,500 ($8,000 effective with the Class of 2009) or a grant in the full amount of their demonstrated need if the need is more than $7,500.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Thirty-nine students were accepted to present their research at last year’s conference.

Categorized in: Academic News