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04 September 2023

Philosophy student secures place in 3 Minute Thesis National Semi-Finals

Sean Maroney, a MPhilStud student in the Department of Philosophy is positioned among the top 12 contestants in the UK.

Sean Maroney

Sean Maroney was put forward for the National Semi-Finals of the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition after winning the King’s 3MT competition in March with Empathy’s Role in Knowing Our Own Emotions

Three Minute Thesis challenges doctoral candidates to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes.

3MT is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia. Its success has led to the establishment of local and national competitions in several countries.

Although Sean Maroney wasn't among the top 6 selected for the National Final, his exceptional performance was a significant accomplishment.

Sean shares his experience:

"My research is about empathy and self-knowledge — how by empathising with other we can learn more about our own mental states, especially our emotions. I returned to university in 2020 after working for a few years in a primary school for Aboriginal Australian children in my hometown, Sydney. We encourage empathy in frontline workers, in education, and in children, and we say that it’s good, but we don’t understand how this works. My current focus is on clarifying early accounts of empathy, for example Edith Stein’s 1917 account in her doctoral thesis On the Problem of Empathy.

The competition was challenging and rewarding. Distilling higher research which can be full of jargon and technically specific language into a three minute presentation communicable to an intelligent lay audience required time and helped me to really nail down exactly what was most important about my research, and the motivations behind it. Progressing beyond King’s into the National competition was great fun, especially working with the talented team at CDS to record the entry professionally.

My future plans are still at King’s for now. I am currently looking for further funding to support my upgrade from MPhilStud to PhD; I really want to remain at King’s for this, so am seeking any and all opportunities! Beyond that, I’m looking to submit some work to a few journals next year, developing my teaching skills as a GTA, and continue working with the charity Philosophy in Prison to deliver valuable education outside of the often cloistered red-brick and sandstone academies."

Sean is currently researching the conceptual foundations of empathy. Being able to emphatize is one of the most basic abilities we have. Just think of everyday interactions with your peers, political debate, moral blame …. It is really important to arrive at a better philosophical understanding of this ability and its exercise. This is exciting work and Sean mines the philosophical tradition with very good results. Many congratulations to him for his success in the competition.

Sean's supervisor, Professor Mark Textor