Freedom, Markets, and Well-being Fall 2021

Sample Thesis and Prospectuses


You will have to write a prospectus by the end of this term and you will have to write a thesis by the end of the spring. You probably haven’t done either one of these things before. So we try to take some of the mystery out by talking about real live samples. That was the point of today’s class.

Note that you can find all of the past PPE theses in the Philosophy library in 208 Pearsons.

Our discussion

We discussed sample theses by James Psomas and Lilly Weidhaas. I did not take notes of our conversation. Suffice it to say that we thought they were both very good. In fact, some students asked that we use samples that were a little less intimidating.

We also talked about two prospectuses from the past: one about the recent war in central Africa and the other about the failure of a ferry project in Hawaii. Maddie suggested that it would have been more helpful to read Psomas and Weidhaas’s prospectuses. Good point! I put them on Sakai after class.

One point that came out from our discussion of the prospectuses is that you do not have to be as explicit about how your project will address two different disciplines as they were. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not necessary either.


At the end of class, we went around the table to see what people are thinking about doing. No one is committed to any of these ideas. They are just starting points.

Izzy has a variety of tech ideas: how deep fake technology will affect our understanding of truth and knowledge, data privacy, and ethics and artificial intelligence.

Priscilla drew on her experience of working at City Hall in San Francisco for her question. Why have San Francisco’s programs to deal with homelessness failed?

Xiya was thinking about data and privacy.

Sally had two ideas: veganism and utopian thinking.

Ben wants to look at carbon pricing, such as California’s cap and trade system.

Jayden is thinking about the justification of democracy and maybe the justification of taxation.

Patrick wants to review the literature on disinformation. He thinks there is something there. Some sample topics include the relationship between democracy and truth, the value of free speech, the financial incentives behind disinformation, and Facebook’s oversight board.

Francis had the coolest one word topic: “cuisine.” By that he means the norms around eating, how they evolve, and how cuisine acts as a technology.

Sam wants to explore the work of Darryl Davis, a musician who converts Klansmen and Nazis.

We did not get to Issie and Maddie.

Issie is working away on her thesis as we speak. It is on loneliness.

Maddie won’t write hers until spring 2023. But we should still put her on the spot now. We will have to get back to that.