June 19, 2014 at 10:45am
Jackson Lewis ’13

Dr. Robert Money“Philosophy is everywhere if you just pay attention to it,” says Dr. Robert Money, professor of philosophy. “If I’m watching a movie, looking at magazine headlines, hearing a news story, a joke or a rock lyric: It doesn’t matter. I can find it.”

Money has been watching for it since he was a child. He recalls watching his father, a Baptist minister, weed the grass, wondering why that was necessary. “We got into this back and forth asking why he had to do that — why God would put weeds in the grass and why he was eliminating something God had put there — questions like that,” Money says.

That conversation foreshadowed a love of philosophical tension that would be cultivated during his undergraduate years studying political science at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., where he met Dr. Jim Edwards. “He was the best professor I’ve ever had,” Money says. “I took a course he taught my junior year called, ‘Law, Justice and the State,’ and it was the bomb! I couldn’t think about anything else.”

Aspiring philosophy instructors must have the philosophy ”disease,” as Money puts it — that constant need to seek the truth in all things — in order to legitimize pursuing this line of work. Money’s disease was strong enough to land him a tenure-tracked job at Millikin in 1999.

In the classroom, Money keeps his cards close to the vest, careful not to reveal his own opinions on the philosophical and moral issues discussed in class. “I don’t want anything to contaminate the student from being able to speak his or her mind,” Money says. Instead, Money role-plays, taking the view of Socrates one day and John Stuart Mill the next.

Six years into his time at Millikin, Money found a few students who were similarly infected with the philosophy bug on the newly created Millikin Moot Court. In their first year, Millikin students took both first and second place and outstanding student justice awards at the Modern Illinois Government (MIG) simulation, where schools from across Illinois compete, arguing different sides of past real-world court cases. Millikin has taken first place in seven consecutive years of competition, including this spring.

Money eventually turned the team into a class, “Appellate Legal Reasoning.” “It’s a lot of role-playing,” Money says. “They are attorneys in front of a court. I’m the judge. I’m interrupting and asking questions. We imitate the rules at the competition.”

This attention to detail is much needed, building up to a four-day competition. “It’s a lot of work,” Money says. “You argue once in the morning on one side of the case, and you know you’re going to come back that afternoon on the opposite side of the case. You scout other teams, hear other arguments and expound on your own.”

In the opinion of Kevin Stocks ’13, first-place winner at the 2011 MIG along with David Anderson ’11, Money’s prep work makes all the difference. “Year after year, top to bottom, every Millikin team is prepared to compete with anybody,” Stocks says. “In the past three years, only three teams from other schools have advanced to the semi-finals. We go into the competition armed with the tools to win, and Dr. Money deserves all the credit in the world for that.”€

Money attributes the team’s success to their dedication to practice and inherent skill. “Just like in football, you’ve got to recruit good players to win games. You have to recruit good students to win moot court.”

Above all, Money aims to have fun with his Millikin position. Though philosophy is everywhere, he enjoys seeing it in the minds of his students the most. “It’s a great bonus to really enjoy what you do for your job,” he says. “I hardly distinguish between my job, work and fun.” It seems Money is afflicted with the philosophy “disease” and in serious condition.

Jackson Lewis ”13 was a writing intern for the alumni and development office for two years. Originally from Dallas, he currently lives and works in Chicago.

Magazine Issue: