Armand Babakhanian is from Simi Valley, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Biola University in 2022. His current areas of interest are philosophy of action, free will, metaphysics, and the history of philosophy. In this interview, we learn more about his research projects and his experience in the program thus far.
What has been most memorable about your experience in the MA program thus far?
The most memorable thing about my experience in the MA program thus far has been the experience of working with faculty and students. The GSU philosophy faculty are all extremely supportive and are all great philosophers. They show a genuine interest in discussions with students and have helped me grow an incredible amount since starting the program. Engaging with them in the classroom and during office hours has been a fantastic learning experience. The students in the program are all very bright, and their eagerness to discuss philosophy has been immensely helpful in thinking through philosophical ideas and arguments. It’s encouraging to be around a supportive cohort of classmates like them!
What are some of your favorite classes? Favorite lectures/topics?
If I had to pick two classes that are my favorite so far, I would choose Dr. Juan Piñeros Glasscock’s class on “Knowledge and Its Limits” and Dr. Eddy Nahmias’s Seminar on Free Will. In Professor Juan’s class, we covered many new topics in epistemology, and I got to learn more about the Knowledge-First program. I also learned more about action theory and the metaphysics of intentional action. Professor Nahmias’s class was another favorite class, because Professor Nahmias invests a lot of valuable time into providing feedback to students to help us improve, and I acquired new interests in the metaphysics of dispositions and positive retributivism. My favorite topics covered in these classes were the nature of intentional action in Professor Juan’s class and the metaphysics of free will in Professor Nahmias’s class.
Have you gone to or participated in any conferences?
I’ve participated in a couple of conferences so far, and I have a couple more coming up in the Summer. In the Fall Semester, I participated in a local conference called the “Georgia State University Graduate Conference for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity.” I presented a paper on technology addiction titled, “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding the Growth of Technology Addiction”. I also presented a brief paper at the “Conference on Science and Christianity”. The paper was also on technology addiction and is titled “Theological Resources for Technological Addiction: How the Church May Respond to the Growth of Technology Addiction.” Both papers discussed some of the causes of technology addiction and suggested some modest ways of responding to it. Over the summer, I plan to present a paper at the “Fifth International Conference on Philosophy and Meaning in Life”. The paper is titled, “A Thomistic View of Choiceworthy Immortality”. I plan to argue that a Thomistic view of immortal life meets the three conditions of choice-worthiness put forth by John Martin Fischer. I also plan to present a paper at the “Australia & New Zealand Association of Theological Studies Annual Conference”. My paper is entitled “A Defense of the Critical Dialogue Model of Faith and Reason: Philosophy with Theology”. My paper defends the “critical dialogue model” of faith and reason and argues that faith and reason can fruitfully complement one another.
What projects are you working on/ what projects did you work on this year?
This past year, I worked on two papers for journals. I published my paper “Thomist Libertarianism is Committed to Mysterianism” in New Blackfriars. The thesis of my paper is that recent accounts of Thomist libertarianism are committed to Peter van Inwagen’s mysterianism, because they lack the adequate resources to respond to van Inwagen’s “Replay Argument”. I also submitted my paper “Church Responses and Theological Resources for Technological Addiction” to the ISCAST: Christian Perspectives on Science and Technology journal. In the paper, I develop an earlier conference presentation and argue that the Church possesses some resources to help prevent technology addictions. I am currently waiting to hear back from them.
What advice would you give to prospective students thinking about a degree in Philosophy?
I would advise prospective students who are thinking about a degree in Philosophy to consider how much they enjoy doing philosophy. Philosophy can be a fun experience and is extremely rewarding! However, it is also difficult and challenging. If you really enjoy philosophy and have a passion for it, then perhaps you should consider pursuing a degree in philosophy. The difficulties and challenges may not feel as heavy if you really love the discipline. On the other hand, if you take philosophy to be more of a fun hobby and not a passion, then perhaps you should consider how much you really care about philosophy and whether you ought to pursue a degree. Philosophy can be challenging, and it may be a bad choice to put your time and heart into it if you’re not going to love it!
What are your plans after GSU?
After GSU, I hope to matriculate into a Ph.D. program of philosophy. Eventually, I hope to teach at Moorpark Community College in California where I took my first philosophy class.
What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of school?
Some of my hobbies outside of school are jiu-jitsu and weightlifting. I also enjoy learning about theology, and history, and watching mixed martial arts with my friends.