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Dr. Michael J. O'Neill

Associate Professor of Philosophy
Office: Siena Hall 108
Tel.: 401-865-1426
Office Hours (Fall 2012):
Tuesdays, 1-2:30pm
Wednesdays, 12:30-2pm


Associate Professor of Philosophy Chair, Department of Philosophy

Post-Baccalaureate Fellowships and Scholarships Coordinator

Academic Background

The Catholic University of America

Doctor of Philosophy, 2004, With Distinction

Master of Arts, 1998, Magna Cum Laude

Fordham University

Bachelor of Arts, 1992

Sample Courses Taught at Providence College

Social and Political Philosophy

Philosophy of Art

Contemporary Philosophy


Teaching Philosophy

The classical Greeks had the original and perhaps best model for practicing philosophy. Their method, after Socrates, was fundamentally dialectical. They conducted their investigations of the task of living in a community of friends committed to the pursuit of truth. The classroom should model this community. It should be friendly, encouraging, rigorous (even exacting), familiar, hospitable and wrapped (whenever possible) in a sense of the aesthetic. The hospitality of the classroom is essential if students are to be encouraged to take chances, to question aggressively and to enjoy the process.

All of my courses share the following goals: To model the pursuit of truth in the Socratic tradition -- that is, as a means to self-understanding; to transmit some basic knowledge of the western philosophical canon; and to allow students the space to critically examine the concepts and philosophical problems presented in class. At the end of the day, teachers have the unusual goal of making themselves obsolete. We are midwives who help give birth to liberally minded, liberally educated adults. If those adults have become "lifelong learners" and critical thinkers, then we have done our jobs and they have no more need of us. My goal is to help produce students whose critical skills are augmented by knowledge of the western intellectual tradition -- its strengths and its deficiencies -- and to encourage them to continue to reflect on their nature and purpose as human beings.

Research & Interests

Areas of Specialization with Current Research Interests

Philosophy of History -- especially the thought of R.G. Collingwood and Alasdair MacIntyre

Political Philosophy -- especially the philosophical foundations of political community; earlier twentieth century defenses of liberal democracy against fascist critiques; and history of political philosophy

Contemporary Philosophy (20th Century)- - especially British Idealism; and the "New Historicism"

Areas of Competence


Ancient and Modern Epistemology

Notable Academic Appointments and Awards

Committee on Aid to Faculty Research (CAFR) Grant, Providence College, Summer 2007 until end of Summer 2009: “Collingwood, the Will and Continental Philosophy”

Davis Technology Grant, Providence College, Summer 2005 until end of Spring 2006: “Using Technology to Foster Interdisciplinary Thinking in DWC”

Conference Secretary, International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry 5th Annual Conference, Providence College, July 28-31, 2011.  “MacIntyre as Critic and Educator.”

Publication Highlights

“The Concrete Universal in Collingwood’s Moral Philosophy”, Collingwood and British Idealism Studies, Vol. 16, no. 1-2 (2010): 25-67.

“A Peculiar ‘Faith’: On R.G. Collingwood’s Use of St. Anselm’s Argument”, The St. Anselm Journal, Vol. 3, no. 2 (Spring 2006): 32-47.

“On Collingwood’s Theory of Time.” In The Philosophy of History. Edited by Alexander MacFie. Palgrave-Macmillan Publishing Co., 2006, 83-102.

Selected Scholarly Presentations and Activities

Response to Bruce Ballard’s “MacIntyre on Moral Error as a Source of Intellectual Error.” Presented at the ACPA Conference, ISME Satellite Session, St. Louis, MO. (10/28/2011)

"Issues with MacIntyre's Tradition Constituted Enquiry". Paper Presented at the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry Satellite Session of the ACPA, Baltimore, Maryland. (11/5/2010)

"MacIntyre's God, Philosophy, Universities". Panel Discussion: Presented in absentia International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry Annual Meeting, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania. (7/31/2010)

"'An 'Argumentative Ally': Collingwood, MacIntyre and the New Historicism". Paper Presented at the Collingwood Society Conference, Monash University Conference Center, Prato, Italy. (7/20/2010)

"Defending Liberalism: Collingwood, Schmitt, and the Problem of History." Paper Presented at the John Stuart Mill Memorial Conference, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois. (4/24/10)

"Viewing 20th Century Politics through the Lens of The Prince: Machiavelli on Virtue and Armed Prophets." Paper Presented at the Providence College Faculty on the Road Series, New York. New York Athletic Club, New York, NY. (3/13/09)

"Why Does the 'Good' Need a History?" Paper Presented at the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry Annual Meeting, University College Dublin, Ireland. (3/9/09)

"An Argumentative Ally: MacIntyre and Collingwood on Defining the Good". Paper Presented at the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry Annual Meeting, St. Meinrad College, Indiana. (8/1/2008)

"The Ugly American, or, Why Nietzsche Hates Democracy." Paper Presented at the Phi Sigma Tau Induction Ceremony, Providence College, (4/19/07).

"Does Collingwood Know What Time It Is? A Question from Heidegger about Self-Understanding." Paper Presented as a Keynote Seminar at the Institute for Historical Research. University College London, England. (11/17/2005)

"The Role of Resignation of the Will in Collingwood's Moral Philosophy." Paper Presented at the Collingwood Society Conference, Monk Coniston, England. (7/6/2005)

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