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September 27, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

It pleases me to write a letter recommending Patrick McCarty for a teaching position in your
department. He is an exceptionally erudite scholar and gifted teacher whose passion for philosophy and
literature is greater than any other person I can recall having met in my thirty years as a university

Patrick is without doubt an extraordinary talent. He entered our program back in 1990, and then struck
out on his own philosophical journey, compiling a rather brilliant career (a documentary, college
teaching stint, a book published) before ending back on our doorstep. In many ways he has already
proven himself to be an accomplished teacher and writer.

I got to know Patrick when he enrolled in my Fall 2007 graduate seminar on Habermas's philosophy of
law. Although both Habermas and legal philosophy are rather far removed from his central concerns,
Patrick’s performance in that seminar was exemplary, ranking him among the top two of eleven
students. I don't know if Patrick had had much prior familiarity with any of this material. However, he
threw himself wholeheartedly into the course, supplementing the course readings with his own
independent research on Habermas and the law. He would often send me 3- or 4-page emails
summarizing his thoughts and requesting feedback from me. These exchanges were quite fruitful and
enjoyable for both of us. His two “short” presentations for the class were actually long commentaries,
as was his final paper, and in every instance they displayed excellent use of the primary texts
supplemented by impressive reference to the secondary literature, and raised important critical points.
They also showed a remarkable literary quality. If I had any complaint about them, it concerned their
ambitious scope. Be that as it may, the result was uniformly impressive. (The same could be said of
Patrick’s MA thesis on Kierkegaard, which was a very ambitious and original thesis that especially
impressed me with the depth of its scholarship.)

The next semester Patrick enrolled in a directed reading course with me on Derrida and Habermas and,
as before, I was quite impressed with his close readings of the texts. Patrick’s final paper was
remarkable in its even-handed treatment of these thinkers and their very different views on language.
Around this time Patrick petitioned to enter our PhD program and was admitted – no mean feat given
that we admit about four or five people into our program among the 160 who apply. Patrick is now
working on a dissertation with one of our two endowed chair holders, Adriaan Peperzak. This, too, is
not an inconsiderable accomplishment. Peperzak is highly selective in choosing the people whose
dissertations he will direct. It is widely conceded in our department that his students are the pick of the
crop, having the broadest knowledge of history of philosophy and the best overall preparation in
secondary language training.

Patrick is a very mature scholar who came close to finishing a PhD in English at Loyola before
“catching the philosophy bug,” as he likes to put it. I have engaged him in many conversations and
have been very impressed with his incredible erudition and keen intelligence. He is, furthermore, a very
charming person whose passion for philosophy is simply without equal. Needless to say, the program
that manages to procure him steady employment will be fortunate indeed.


David Ingram
Professor of Philosophy