DSPT Events

82nd Annual Commencement

May 24, 2014                                                                      

DSPT Graduates 2014

President's Address: Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP


Commencement Address: Dr. Michael West Oborne - From Consolation to Commitment: Philosophy and Theology’s Role in Meeting Tomorrow’s Public Policy Challenges


Certificates and Degrees


Francois Dufour, SDB
Jedeiah Esteves
Piotr Janas, OP
Peter Paul Meringolo
Gaetano Riolo, SDB
Justin Charles Gable, OP
Corwin S. Low, OP 
Joshua Ryan Currie
The Contemplative Potential of the Sacramentally United
Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Bryan Kromholtz, OP
Bruce Lescher
This thesis articulates the argument for the cultivation of contemplation among the Catholic married and the potential for its application toward the efforts of the New Evangelization.
Laura Elizabeth Currie
Approaching an Aesthetic Ecclesiology for the New Evangelization
Anselm Ramelow, OP (Coordinator)
Joseph P. Chinnici, OFM
Marga Vega
This thesis aims to construct an “aesthetic ecclesiology” to aid in the Catholic Church’s mission of the New Evangelization through a comparative study of St. Bonaventure’s ontology, given in his “Itinerarium Mentis in Deum,” and G.W.F. Hegel’s ontology, given in his “Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art.”
Mauricio José Najarro
Between Perrin and Weil: Rootedness, Conversion and Vocation
Eugene Ludwig, OFM Cap (Coordinator)
Bryan Kromholtz, OP
Inese Radzins
This thesis is an attempt to think through the risks and obligations that emerge for thinkers who engage both Dominican tradition and philosophical thought in the writings of French philosopher Simone Weil and Fr. Joseph Marie-Perrin, OP. Perrin and Weil, like others of their time, are uprooted by crime and circumstance. They, like others of their time, turn to tradition. This turn is a conversion, a turning to that is also a turning with. While Perrin emphasizes turning with others in community, Weil emphasizes turning towards the good as an individual. Both aspects must be held in tension if the development of a vocation is to grow from conversion. And vocation only grows when it is nourished by friendships that sustain individuals during a time of uprootedness. Both Perrin and Weil influence each other and must be read together if scholars are to do justice to the friendship between them. 

Christopher L. Ragusa, Jr.

Only a Formality: Blessed John Duns Scotus on Being, the Trinity and the Formal Distinction

Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Anselm Ramelow, OP
Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ

Blessed John Duns Scotus is remembered for his subtle and often unique accounts of metaphysical realities—including “being as such” [ens] as synonymous with “thing” [res], the formality of haecceity as necessary for individuation, and the multiplicity of forms as necessary within a composite being. However, these metaphysical notions only find their proper context and intellectual content in light of Scotus’s formal distinction as it is understood in distinguishing the Trinity of Persons from the Divine Essence, which Scotus articulates in the Logica Scoti. 

Thomas Kalyana Sundaram

Ut Unum Simus: Toward an Ecumenical Ecclesiology Between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches

Eugene Ludwig, OFM Cap (Coordinator)
Joseph Boenzi, SDB
Augustine Thompson, OP

Any attempt to achieve a reunion between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, because of the need for essential unity, must involve an affirmation of the primacy, both juridical and of honor, of the Bishop of Rome.

Hannah Joy Woldum (with honors)

The Way of the Logos: Beauty, Faith and Reason in the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger

Anselm Ramelow, OP (Coordinator)
Bryan Kromholtz, OP
Marga Vega

This thesis endeavors to understand how beauty functions in the relationship between faith and reason in Ratzinger’s Logos-centric theology. As it discusses the importance of beauty for his theology, this thesis could be considered an attempt to draw out a ‘theological aesthetics’ inherent in Ratzinger’s theology. Examining the role of beauty in Ratzinger’s theology, this thesis argues that beauty is a fundamental component in Ratzinger’s Logos-centric vision of reality, rooted in his understanding that beauty, truth, and love are united in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Logos. Since the Logos as Truth in Person is the ground and goal of both faith and reason, beauty is inherently connected to both in their orientation toward the truth. 


Brian Sennello

Akrasia, Sin and Neuroscience: A Re-evaluation of the Thomistic Treatment of Akrasia in Light of Cognitive Neuroscience 

Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Bryan Kromholtz, OP
Mark A. Graves

Akrasía, also known as incontinence or weakness of will, was considered by Aristotle and Aquinas to be a sort of fleeting ignorance about the practical aspects of one’s actions. Recent studies in neuroscience suggest an additional reason could be a simple lack of energy. How we use our limited budget of mental energy to control our actions or inactions is an important consideration in their morality.

Exam Option
Nicholas Alan Carmone
Perrin Brady-Cheney
Thesis Option
Alexander H. Ferrant (with honors)
“Through the Eye of the Owl” – Understanding the Role of the Phantasm for Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus
Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Mary Beth Ingham, CSC
Marga Vega
The imagination is essential to how we perceive the world, and as such it is intimately bound up with our happiness. This thesis explores the imagination and its role in perception through a consideration of two thinkers who share a deep appreciation of the nuances of human cognition. Notwithstanding their shared depth of insight, however, Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus each interpret Aristotle’s dictum that there is no knowledge without a phantasm in ways that reveal significantly different understandings of the human person. Their respective interpretations suggest not only different theological emphases, but also the tremendous impact of the Condemnations of 1277 upon the Western mind, the effects of which are felt even to the present day. 

Daniel F. Grimm

Distinguishing Human Sensation as Holistic from Animal Sensation 

Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Anselm Ramelow, OP
Marga Vega 

Humans and animals have much in common. But human activities, such as language and technology, are strikingly different from animal activities. An investigation of the sensory faculties in humans and animals helps to clarify the reasons for such differences.

Gabriel Thomas Mosher, OP

Between Aquinas and Buber: W. Norris Clarke’s Retrieval of Interpersonal Relationality in the Anthropology of St. Thomas Aquinas

Anselm Ramelow, OP (Coordinator)
Marga Vega
Michael Dodds, OP

The anthropology of St. Thomas Aquinas doesn’t seem to specifically consider man’s inter-personal relationality. Martin Buber strongly critiques this apparent lacuna. However, Fr. Norris Clarke suggests that there is a robust relational anthropology implicit in St. Thomas’ appropriation of the Neo-Platonic doctrine of participation. The thesis, ”Between Aquinas and Buber,“ examines inter-personal relationality according to the anthropology of these three thinkers to discover if Norris Clarke’s creative retrieval of St. Thomas Aquinas’ anthropology is sufficient to answer the critique of Martin Buber.”

Mark Kerrins

The Empty Tomb: Sacred Aspects of the Architecture of Memorials

Michael Morris, OP (Coordinator)
John Hilary Martin, OP
Lizette Larson-Miller

This thesis investigates how the sacred is experienced in memorial spaces. Through both their design and usage (as a type of ritual) memorials encourage an encounter with the sacred. An important aspect to this encounter is the concept of place and the roles that meaning, identity, history and memory bring to this concept. By examining a number of examples of memorial spaces, within the US, this thesis illustrates how their design and function can deepen and expand our experience of the sacred.

George F. Speckman (with honors)

The Impassible God in the Suffering of the Innocent

Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Edward Krasevac, OP
Bryan Kromholtz, OP

Where is God when the innocent suffer? The thesis explores this question in the context of a dialectical tension between God’s intimacy and involvement with the poor and suffering on the one hand and his utter transcendence to all of creation on the other.

Honorary Degrees and Installation in the College of Fellows

Luis F. Aguilar-Villanueva

Dr.DSPT Fellow Luis Aguilar  Aguilar is the founder and director of the Research Institute of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico. He holds a PhD in Political Philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. Dr. Aguilar is the first Doctor Honoris Causa of the National Institute of Public Administration, Mexico (2013) for his contributions to the knowledge of public administration and public governance. He is a member of Mexico’s National System of Research and in 2008 was awarded the Emeritus Researcher distinction. He has written many books, articles, and book chapters on the subject, and he writes an editorial column for Reforma, a Mexican national newspaper. From 2006 to 2013 Dr. Aguilar was a member of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration at the United Nations, serving in various capacities, including as Chair of the Committee. Within the Mexican public sector, Dr. Aguilar served as Assistant Secretary of Political Development and Chief of Staff for the Ministry of the Interior (1994-1997).
DSPT Fellow Patrick Brennan Patrick Brennan joined the Villanova University faculty in 2004 as the inaugural holder of the John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies. He has also served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of the Joint JD/MBA Program. Prior to his tenure at Villanova, Dr. Brennan was a faculty member in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where for several years he served as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Research and later as Vice Dean. Dr. Brennan earned his JD from Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall), UC Berkeley. He is the author of four books and more than sixty articles, book chapters, and essays. He is working on two additional manuscripts. Prior to studying law, Dr. Brennan earned an MA and pursued doctoral course work in philosophy at the University of Toronto, taking many of his courses there in the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. Dr. Brennan holds a BA in philosophy from Yale.
Michael West Oborne
DSPT Fellow Michael West Oborne Michael Oborne is a Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University. Dr. Oborne had a long and distinguished career at the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), serving in various capacities. Most recently, Dr. Oborne was OECD’s Director of Strategic Foresight, as well as Director of the OECD Global Science Forum and Director of OECD International Futures Programme. He supervised and worked on projects that focused on the space economy, the new security economy (particularly biosecurity issues), monitoring and managing new systemic risks, the emerging bio-economy, and future global infrastructure investment needs. Dr. Oborne was educated at the University of California at Berkeley (BA, MA, PhD), as well as Cambridge University and the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Before joining OECD in 1980, he taught at a number of universities including the University of Paris, and the University of Milan, where he held the Senior Fulbright Professorship.