Jessica Lee B.A. 2009

I was introduced to Philosophy at Northwestern University through the fulfilment of a distribution requirement. I walked into my first History of Philosophy lecture as a sophomore without any background knowledge of the subject and without a special interest. But the philosophical theories of Descartes, Hume, and Locke seemed to have a familiar ring to them, and I quickly became eager to learn more. I ultimately chose to study Philosophy and Neurobiology at Northwestern, being particularly interested in the mind, and had the opportunity to take classes in all areas of historical and analytic philosophy: from Descartes and Foucault, to Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, and Ethics.

I became more serious in my philosophical studies after studying Epistemology with Jennifer Lackey in the Spring of my junior year. Upon being particularly unsettled by a view called pragmatic encroachment, I resolved to expand on my concerns about the view in an undergraduate dissertation. Undertaking this project while taking advanced-level philosophy courses was highly challenging yet rewarding and it taught me how to effectively incorporate relevant literature into my arguments as well as how to use different reasoning techniques to formulate clear philosophical ideas. My increasing curiosity in philosophy from studying Philosophy of Mind with Professor Sanford Goldberg and Political Philosophy with Professor Charles Mills led me to look into graduate schools to continue my studies and broaden my interest in Philosophy.

In 2009, I matriculated at the University of Oxford in the B.Phil program in Philosophy. In my two years at Oxford as a graduate student, I studied Epistemology with Professor John Hawthorne, Philosophy of Mind with Dr. Anandi Hattiangadi, and Frege with Dr. Gabriel Uzquiano. I am currently working on a project in Epistemology, focusing on how the knowledge norm of assertion may be affected by testimony (if at all), under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Fricker and Professor John Hawthorne. Studying philosophy at Oxford has been an incredible experience, and the demanding workload of the B.Phil program has been unlike any other. Studying philosophy at Northwestern has prepared me tremendously for my work at Oxford, and I am forever grateful for the guidance and commitment of the faculty at NU. I am certain that the skills that I have acquired as well as the lessons that I have learned from my studies will continue to be invaluable in my future career.