Thomas Wilk

Thomas M. Wilk, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Media Expertise:
  • Arts & Culture
  • Social Justice


  • PhD, Philosophy (2019)
    Johns Hopkins University (MD)
  • MA, Philosophy (2012)
    Johns Hopkins University (MD)
  • MA, Philosophy (2009)
    George Mason University (VA)
  • BA, Philosophy & Economics (2005)
    Gettysburg College (PA)

About Me

In my courses at Widener, I'm committed to teaching philosophical subjects in ways that students can connect to their own lives. Philosophical exploration should be rigorous, but it should also be relevant, exciting, joyful, and, sometimes, deeply uncomfortable. I help students to challenge some of their deepest assumptions about what is good or right or valuable and about how the physical and social world they inhabit is organized, and I aim to provide them with the tools they'll need to reconstruct a rational worldview.

Whether I'm teaching nursing students, business students, or students in the humanities, I connect careful philosophical reflection with current events and topics relevant to students' professional futures.

Research Interests

My primary research focuses on moral language and its practical significance. What do we use it to do? Why would we have a discursive practice with this function? And how does its function shed light on the norms that structure the practice? This was the topic of my dissertation, which I'm now working to turn into my first book.

I also work on our practices of holding one another accountable to shared moral norms. I'm interested in what kind of standing one has to have in order to successfully hold someone to the oughts that bind them and the social practices that either support or undermine this standing. My present project aims to understand how the fragmentation of thick community relations instigated by the rise of social media, the decline in civic organizations and organized religion, and changing economic realities has made it more difficult for us to hold one another accountable. 

I'm also interested in jokes, and, in particular, how jokes can be used to ease communication about difficult subjects.



In on the Joke: A (Mildly) Contractarian Ethics of Joking, with Steven Gimbel, De Gruyter (Forthcoming).

Peer-reviewed Publications:

  • “Conspiracy Theories, Echo Chambers, and Communal Epistemic Trust,” Azimuth: International Journal of Philosophy,” (Forthcoming).
  •  “A Kernel of Truth: Outlining an Epistemology of Jokes,” The Philosophy of Humor Yearbook, 2023, 4(1): 227-246.
  •  “Proportion and the Personality of Humor,” The Philosophy of Humor Yearbook, 2021, 2(1): 147-148.
  •  “I Said Something Wrong: Transworld Obligation in Yesterday” with Steven Gimbel, Film-Philosophy, 2021, 25(2): 151-164.
  • Wilk, T. (2017) “Trust, Communities, and the Standing to Hold Accountable," Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 27 (2 Supplement): 1-22.
  • Wilk, T. (2017) “Inferences, Experiences, and the Myth of the Given: A Reply to Champagne,” Logos and Episteme: An International Journal of Epistemology 8 (1): 155-162.
  • Wilk, T. (2017) “The Right Way to Win Over Posterity,” Hamilton and Philosophy (Open Court) eds. Aaron Rabinowitz and Robert Arp

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

  • American Philosophical Association
  • American Association of Philosophy Teachers
  • Richard Rorty Society
  • Wilfrid Sellars Society
  • Lighthearted Philosophers Society


  • Outstanding Mason Core Course: Bioethics, George Mason University (2018, 2019)
  • Dean’s Teaching Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University (2015-2018)
  • David Sachs Dissertation Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University (2016-2017)
  • Hodson Fellowship in the Humanities, Johns Hopkins University (2013-2014)

In the Media


  • Philosophy Faculty Selected for Summer Philosophy Institute

    Thomas Wilk, assistant teaching professor of philosophy, has been selected from a competitive pool of applicants to take part in the Council of Independent College’s (CIC) New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institute in July 2023. 

    This program, funded by The Mellon Foundation, is designed for philosophy faculty to attend, collaborate, and bring new knowledge and skills back to their classrooms. As part of the institute, attending faculty will also receive a grant to support new curricular activities at their own institutions.

    Dr. Wilk is most interested in learning how to grow philosophy at Widener to make it more interdisciplinary as he sees great potential for collaboration between philosophy and many other programs. 

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