Senior Thesis Abstracts 2021


“Ethical Deception in the Workplace”

by Joseph DePasquale

Image of man crossing his fingers

Abstract: Although deception is widely judged as negative, Robert C. Solomon and Michael P. Lynch argue that deception can be ethical under certain conditions. I believe this claim should be evaluated to see if it carries any merit. This thesis weighs the case for ethical deception against standard accounts of deception that consider it a relational transgression that leads to betrayal and distrust. I focus on deception in the workplace in particular and evaluate whether deception can be ethically justified under certain circumstances. Finally, I propose a standard for ethical deception and construct a paradigm case for the best way to practice ethical deception in cases where deception is warranted.

“The Malice of Algorithms: Facebook’s Influence on COVID-19 Vaccine Decisions”

by Taylor Jo Russo

Image of Facebook application on phone

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a landscape of uncertainty, anxiety, and has led to people feeling a loss of control. These conditions transfer to social media, an already risky environment, where dangerous engagement is now exacerbated. Facebook specifically has been criticized for its algorithms which hijack and control information available, showing what is preferred, even if that content is inaccurate, unhelpful, or improperly advertised. When it comes to information about health-related topics, like receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, algorithms currently play an important and manipulative role that restrict and inhibit well-informed health decisions. In this thesis, I consider the implications of Facebook's current algorithms concerning the unethical role they have in manipulating the digestion of COVID-19 vaccine information and how they negatively affect and influence thought processing. I offer suggestions on the individual and platform level on how to better distribute and consume information, with the goal of adaptive thinking and the ability to make well-informed health decisions.

“Controlling Emotions: Is it Always the Best Strategy?”

by Sara Tomson

Image displaying varying emotions

Abstract: Through exploring the ideal reaction to emotions from the perspective of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, the Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi, and the American philosopher William James, I examine different approaches to how we should experience and react to emotion. These three different lenses all approach the ideal ways of experiencing and reacting to emotions. This raises the question of whether we should even want to have control of emotions and if we do, to what extent. In this paper I draw on the three different perspectives on emotion to argue for an ideal version of the control of emotions. This ideal version relies heavily on understanding the emotion that is occurring and the cause of that emotion. Having this understanding allows for one to uproot and alter their emotions giving the individual a form of emotional control. Understanding one's emotions allows for the individual to regain control and transform potentially dangerous emotions to emotions that are more life-affirming and constructive.