Essay Prize Philosophy

The Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind is administered by David Sosa, the Temple Centennial Professor in the Humanities and Chair, Department of Philosophy, at the University of Texas at Austin.

Note:Submissions due by August 30th, 2018.

Current Competition Details

The Marc Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind is an annual essay competition open to scholars who are within fifteen (15) years of receiving a Ph.D. and students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program. Independent scholars may also be eligible and should direct inquiries to David Sosa, editor of Analytic Philosophy, at david_sosa@nullaustin.utexas.edu.

The award for the prize-winning essay is $10,000. Winning essays will be published in Analytic Philosophy.

Submitted essays must present original research in philosophy of mind. Essays should be between 7,500 and 15,000 words. Since winning essays will appear in Analytic Philosophy submissions must not be under review elsewhere. To be eligible for this year’s prize, submissions must be received, electronically, by August 30th, 2018. Refereeing will be blind; authors should omit remarks and references that might disclose their identities. Receipt of submissions will be acknowledged by e-mail. The winner will be determined by a committee appointed by the editor of Analytic Philosophy and will be announced by late October.

Entries should be submitted to “Editorial assistant, Analytic Philosophy” at

analyticphilosophyjournal@gmail.com.

Prize Winners

2017 Winners

Berislav Marusic, Brandeis University (L)
John Schwenkler, Florida State University (R)
Title: Intending is Believing: A Defense of Strong Cognitivism (PDF)

The editorial board of Analytic Philosophy has selected Berislav Marusic and John Schwenkler for their essay “Intending is Believing” as the winner of the 2017 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind. John Schwenkler (photo by FSU/Bruce Palmer)is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University . Berislav Marusic (photo by Michael Lovett) is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University, and also recipient of the 2016 Sanders APA Book Prize.

Abstract: We argue that intentions are beliefs—beliefs that are held in light of, and made rational by, practical reasoning. To intend to do something is neither more nor less than to believe, on the basis of one’s practical reasoning, that one will do it. The identification of the mental state of intention with the mental state of belief is what we call strong cognitivism about intentions.

2015 Winner

John Morrison, Barnard College, Columbia University
Title: “Perceptual Confidence” (PDF)

The editorial board of Analytic Philosophy has selected John Morrison as the winner of the 2015 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind for his essay “Perceptual Confidence.” John Morrison is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. He holds a PhD from NYU and works in the areas of philosophy of mind and history of modern philosophy.

Abstract: Perceptual Confidence is the view that perceptual experiences assign degrees of confidence. After introducing, clarifying, and motivating Perceptual Confidence, I catalogue some of its more interesting consequences, such as the way it blurs the distinction between veridical and illusory experiences, a distinction that is sometimes said to carry a lot of metaphysical weight. I also explain how Perceptual Confidence fills a hole in our best scientific theories of perception and why it implies that experiences don’t have objective accuracy conditions.

2014 Winner

Maria Lasonen-Aarnio, University of Michigan
Title: “I’m Onto Something!” Learning about the world by learning what I think about it. (PDF)

The editorial board of Analytic Philosophy has selected Maria Lasonen-Aarnio as the winner of the 2014 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind for her essay “‘I’m Onto Something!’ Learning about the world by learning what I think about It.” Maria Lasonen-Aarnio is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. She holds a DPhil from Oxford University.

Abstract:There has been a lot of discussion about whether a subject has a special sort of access to her own mental states, different in important ways from her access to the states of others. But assuming that subjects can genuinely find out about their own minds, is the kind of import of acquiring self-knowledge different in some interesting, principled way from the import of finding out about the mental states of others? Consider, in particular, the import of finding out about the doxastic states of others who share your evidence. It has been a very popular view of late that evidence about the opinions of others can provide both evidence about one’s evidence, and evidence about first-order matters that the evidence bears on. So, for instance, learning that a friend who shares my evidence is very confident that p can give me evidence that my evidence supports p, and evidence that p is true. But assuming that my own states are not perfectly luminous to me, could learning what I think about a matter have the same kind of evidential import? For instance, could learning that I am confident that p give me more evidence about whether p? It is very tempting to think that evidence about my own doxastic states is inert in a way that evidence about the states of others is not. I argue that this is wrong: there is no principled difference between the evidential import of these two kinds of evidence. Asking what I think about a matter can be a perfectly legitimate way of gaining more evidence about it.

2013 Winner

Carla Merino-Rajme, NYU
Title: “A Quantum Theory of Felt Duration”

The editorial board of Analytic Philosophy has selected Carla Merino-Rajme as the winner of the 2013 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind for her essay “A Quantum Theory of Felt Duration”. The paper was praised by the judges as “interesting and clever,” “well written,” “really well done,” and “impressive.” Here’s a passage from its conclusion:

What is it like to experience the duration of an event? According to the theory developed, the short answer is this. For a long-lived event, it is to form an impression of how many quanta are involved in experiencing it from beginning to end. For a short-lived event, it is how much of the duration of its surrounding quantum it strikes us as taking up. In both cases, experienced quanta provide the subjective unit of our experience of duration. Thus, experienced quanta are the analogues of qualia like seen color, seen shape, felt texture, and heard sound for the case of the perception of duration. The passing of time has a feel to it, but it is not a novel color or shape or texture or sound. It is the passing of experienced units, and our temporal experience provides us with an impression of the count of these units or quanta.

Carla Merino-Rajme is currently an assistant professor/Bersoff fellow at New York University. Her research focuses primarily in philosophy of mind and metaphysics. She recently received a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University, where she wrote a dissertation on the experience of time. She also holds an MA in philosophy of science from UNAM. Starting in the fall of 2014, she will join the philosophy department at Arizona State University as an assistant professor.

Philosophy Essay Prize

The winner of the Prize will receive £2,500 with his or her essay being published in Philosophy and identified as the essay prize winner.

2018 Topic:  Philosophy and International Relations

Arguably, philosophers have been thinking about issues regarding the status and relations between nations for as long as they have been thinking about nations themselves. With the development of colonisation and empires in the 16th and 17th centuries, however, serious consideration began to be given to the philosophy of relations between peoples, and this was further intensified with the rise of the nation state in Europe in the 19th century and the competition and wars between ‘great powers’ . Entries for this competition may address such general issues as the nature of nations, states and international and multi-state entities, and the basis for normative relations between them (e.g. ‘realism’ vs ‘moralism’, and ‘nationalism’ vs ‘cosmopolitanism’). More specific and practical issues might also be taken up; such as the basis for international aid; immigration and refugees; wars of self-defence vs wars of humanitarian intervention; international terrorism; globalisation of finance, trade and services; and environmentalism and global threats, etc.

In assessing entries priority will be given to originality, clarity of expression, breadth of interest, and potential for advancing discussion. All entries will be deemed to be submissions to Philosophy and more than one may be published. In exceptional circumstances the prize may be awarded jointly in which case the financial component will be divided, but the aim is to select a single prize-winner.

Entries should be prepared in line with standard Philosophy guidelines for submission (see http://royalinstitutephilosophy.org/publications/philosophy-information-for-authors/). They should be submitted electronically in Word, with PRIZE ESSAY in the subject heading, to assistant@royalinstitutephilosophy.org.

The closing date for receipt of entries is 1st October 2018. 

Entries will be considered by a committee of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, and the winner announced by the end 2018.  The winning entry will be published in Philosophyin April 2019.

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