People

Graduate Students


PhD Students

Theresa Sophie Caroline HELKE

Smith College, BA (Hons)


Theresa Helke joined the department in August 2014. She is the first Philosophy PhD candidate in the NUS/Yale-NUS joint supervision programme.

Before, she majored in Logic and minored in Government at Smith College (USA). As part of her degree, she spent a semester of her junior year reading Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Professors Jay Garfield and James Henle supervised her honours thesis (‘Brown v. Brown: The Limits of Logic in Law and Language’).

After working at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London and travelling to India, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, Theresa returned to Cambridge to read Law – briefly.

Currently, she is writing her dissertation on conditionals. Specifically, she is looking at accounts of indicative conditionals in the context of alleged counterexamples to hypothetical syllogisms such as modus ponens and modus tollens.

Professor Garfield (then NUS and Yale-NUS) supervised Theresa during her first two years. While he was lecturing at Yale University, she spent a semester there as a Visiting Assistant in Research. After Professor Garfield returned to Smith, Professors Ben Blumson (NUS) and Malcolm Keating (Yale-NUS) became her supervisors.

Theresa is English but grew up in New York City, Geneva and Vienna. Having trained eight years as a circus artist, she enjoys riding her unicycle.

Research interests: - Conditionals

Publications: - ‘How many impossible images did Escher produce?’ with Chris Mortensen et al, British Journal of Aesthetics (2013) 53 (4): 425-441).

Awards: - (2012) Phi Beta Kappa, Academic Honor Society: elected for membership in the top 10% of class. - (2012) Florence Corliss Lamont Prize: awarded for excellence in Philosophy.

Philippe MAJOR

M.A. National Taiwan Univeristy


Philippe holds a Master’s degree in History from National Taiwan University. His Master’s thesis consisted of a study of the consciousness of time of New Culture Movement (1915-1927) intellectuals such as Liang Shuming and Chen Duxiu, as well as the redefinition of modernity which was inherent in their views of time. His PhD dissertation will focus on how modern Confucian thinkers, whom inherited a tradition rooted in the idea that individual development is informed by, and achieved through, a given socio-historical context, reacted to a modern definition of the self which is to a great extent atomistic, being alienated from both community and tradition.

John Robert WILLIAMS

University of Tampa, B.A. Honors (Magna Cum Laude, Top Graduating Philosophy Major Award)


John is a President's Graduate Fellow working on a Ph.D. in Chinese philosophy. He has publications on the ZHUANGZI collection forthcoming (2017) in PHILOSOPHY EAST & WEST (PEW) and DAO: A JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY (DAO). In addition to Tampa, he studied at the University of Oxford (Christ Church) and National Taiwan University (ICLP). His primary research interests are the ZHUANGZI and LIEZI collections, and their respective commentarial traditions. His dissertation, which he is tentatively calling, CHANGING ONE’S LIFE FOR THE WEIRDER VIA ZHUANGZI, LIEZI, AND THEIR COMMENTARIES: A STUDY IN CROSS-CULTURAL ETHICS, examines what these highly idiosyncratic texts tell us about the well-lived life.

Interests (selected):

  • (1) 《列子》LIEZI: First, compare English-language scholarship, modern Chinese-language scholarship, and the traditional commentaries; second, use this “genealogy of Liezi exegesis” to garner insights into the well-lived life.
  • (2) 《莊子》ZHUANGZI: First, compare the English-language scholarship, modern Chinese-language scholarship, and the traditional commentaries; second, use this “genealogy of Zhuangzi exegesis” to garner insights into the well-lived life.

Publications (selected):

  • (1) “The Radiance of Drift and Doubt: Zhuangzi and the Starting Point of Philosophical Discourse,” DAO: A JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY (forthcoming 2017).
  • (2) “The Vanishing Wild Card: Challenges and Implications of Ziporyn’s Zhuangzi,” PHILOSOPHY EAST & WEST (forthcoming 2017).

Elena ZILIOTTI

M.A. University of Barcelona, M.A. University of Parma


Elena is a doctoral candidate in the NUS - King's College London Joint PhD Programme. She holds an M.A. in Analytic Philosophy from University of Barcelona UB (Spain) and an M.A. in Philosophy from University of Parma (Italy). As an undergraduate, she studied philosophy at the University of Parma and was awarded with an Erasmus Mundus scholarship to study at the Radboud University in Nijmegen (Netherlands). Elena’s research focuses on democratic theories and the idea of political meritocracy, in which case studies on current political systems support theoretical arguments. Her supervisors are Professor Tan Sor-hoon (Department of Philosophy, NUS) and Professor Adrian Blau (Department of Political Economy, KCL). She is mainly interested in democratic theory, political equality, meritocracy and the idea of equality.

MA Students

Bernadette CHIN

B.A. (Honours) NUS


Bernadette studied engineering for two years before defecting to philosophy because they get to write about strange things like maritime piracy and whether electrons are real. Her primary interest is in the philosophy of science and technology. As an undergraduate, she read a Science, Technology and Society (STS) minor, while her honours thesis attempted to defend substantivism about scientific understanding. In 2016, she was the valedictorian for the graduating batch.

Currently, she is working on scientific objectivity for her masters’ thesis. She is also interested in epistemology and the philosophy of cognitive science. In her first year, her supervisor asked her why scientific realism matters. She is still struggling to answer that question in her spare time.

David Premsharan S/O R Mohanadas

B.A. (Honours) NUS


David is currently pursuing his M.A. in Philosophy at NUS, where he works primarily in Buddhist epistemology, and engages in comparative work involving Madhyamaka thought. His research interests include Indian philosophical traditions more generally, methodological concerns in comparative philosophy, and extend to critical and postcolonial inquiry.

Jeremy HUANG

B.A. (Honours) NUS


Jeremy’s BA in History is in the past now. He has since moved on to pursue an MA in Philosophy, where his primary research focus is Early Chinese Philosophy. He is mainly interested in Early Chinese Daoism and Legalism, specifically the texts Hanfeizi and Huainanzi, but he is also interested in Song-Ming Neo-Confucianism, Modern Chinese Philosophy and History of Philosophy.

Jane LEE

B.A. (Hons) Muhlenberg


Jane holds a B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy and History from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Her main areas of interest include epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and Kant’s conditions for knowledge. Her honors thesis proposes an alternative theory of self-deception, which escapes both the static and dynamic paradoxes posed by the traditional view common within the self-deception literature. During her free time, she enjoys reading, ballet, and traveling.

LEE Wilson

B.A. (Honours) NUS


Although an NUS graduate, Wilson somehow spent a third of his undergraduate time vagabonding in Europe. The result of this is his (sometimes disappointing) sympathies for Continental philosophy, despite his frequent confessions at Hume’s stupa during his year abroad in Edinburgh.

Wilson’s MA thesis is concerned with the relationship between moral responsibility and false consciousness in analytic philosophy. But scattered about his cave are also papers on comparative philosophy, early Chinese philosophy, and modern European philosophy (especially Kierkegaard and Arendt). He hopes that these may one day bathe in the redemptive light of publication.

Abhishek Mishra

B.A. (Honours) NUS


Abhishek is a Master’s student at the NUS Department of Philosophy. His current research interests include the technological singularity and issues concerning how we may negotiate it. His broader interests include moral and political philosophy, philosophy of mind and epistemology.

Jonathan SIM

B.A. (Honours) NUS


Jonathan graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2013, with a Bachelors of Arts (First Class Honours) in Philosophy. His Honours dissertation was on the various conceptions of harmony present in classical Chinese thought.

He then spent the next three years working as a Research Officer at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), together with Prof. Alan K. L. Chan, the Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. There, Jonathan was in charge of directing the production of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Confucian Philosophy, and helped to organise several interdisciplinary workshops and conferences for the university.

Known for his ability to clearly explain complex philosophical issues to the general public, and to link it to real world issues, Jonathan was invited to speak at the 2015 Smarter World Summit, jointly organised by the Financial Times and the Institute of Asian Consumer Insight (ACI), to a large group of senior industry leaders from the technology and finance sector, on the philosophical issues related to emerging technologies. It was such a great success that he was invited to speak again in 2016, at the Asian Business Summit, jointly organised by Channel News Asia and the Institute of Asian Consumer Insight, on philosophical issues related to the digital revolution. He has also been invited to teach philosophy to several prominent secondary schools across Singapore.

He is back in NUS to pursue a Masters of Arts in Philosophy. His Masters dissertation is focused on investigating how the concept of li (ritual propriety) in Confucian thought might help to address (and improve) certain conceptual problems within the concept of redistributive justice.

Areas of Interest: Classical Chinese philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Technology, Ethics.

Eugene YAO

B.A. (Honours) NUS; BA International Liberal Studies, Waseda.


Eugene's main research interests are in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, metaphysics, and epistemology. Other interests include philosophy of language, philosophy of science, logic, buddhist philosophy, and ethics.