Philosophy of Religion

photo of Jonathan KvanvigThe Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion is administered by Jonathan Kvanvig. Jonathan Kvanvig is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University-St. Louis and editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.

Note: There will be no Philosophy of Religion Prize for 2017. The competition will take place again in 2018 under the guidelines below.

Current Competition Details

The Marc Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion is a biennial essay competition open to scholars who are within fifteen (15) years of receiving a Ph.D. or students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program. Independent scholars may also be eligible and should direct inquiries to Jonathan Kvanvig, editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, at jkvanvig@nullwustl.edu.

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

Submitted essays must present original research in philosophy of religion. Essays should be between 7,500 and 15,000 words. Since winning essays will appear in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, submissions must not be under review elsewhere. To be eligible for this year’s prize, submissions must be received, electronically, by August 31st, 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 of members of the Editorial Board of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion and will be announced by late-October.

Inquiries should be directed to Jonathan Kvanvig at jkvanvig@nullwustl.edu.

Prize Winners

2016 Winner

photo of Kenneth L. PearceKenneth L. Pearce, Trinity College Dublin
Title: “Foundational Grounding and the Argument from Contingency” (PDF)

Congratulations to Kenneth L. Pearce, the 2016 winner of the Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion for his paper “Foundational Grounding and the Argument from Contingency”.  Kenneth is Ussher Assistant Professor in Berkeley Studies at Trinity College Dublin. His paper will be published in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.

Abstract: The argument from contingency for the existence of God is best understood as a request for an explanation of the total sequence of causes and effects in the universe (‘History’ for short). Many puzzles about how there could be such an explanation arise from the assumption that God is being introduced as one more cause prepended to the sequence of causes that (allegedly) needed explaining. In response to this difficulty, I defend three theses. First, I argue that, if the argument from contingency is to succeed, the explanation of History in terms of God must not be a causal explanation. Second, I argue that a particular hypothesis about God’s relation to History – that God is what I call the foundational ground of History – is intelligible and explanatory. Third and finally, I argue that the explanatory advantages of this hypothesis cannot be had within the confines of naturalism.

2014 Winner

photo of Ross D. InmanRoss D. Inman, St Louis University
Title: Omnipresence and the Location of the Immaterial (PDF)

The winner of the Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion for 2014 is Ross Inman with his paper titled,  “Omnipresence and the Location of the Immaterial.” Ross is a postdoctoral fellow at St Louis University. His paper, along with those of other finalists, will be published in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.

Judges for the competition were Jon Kvanvig, distinguished professor of philosophy at Baylor University, together with Daniel Howard-Snyder, professor of philosophy at Western Washington University, and Bradley Monton, professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado.

2013 Winner

photo of Jonathan JacobsJonathan Jacobs, St Louis University
Title: “The Ineffable, Inconceivable, and Incomprehensible God: Fundamentality and Apophatic Theology” (PDF)

This year, there were 49 entries for the 2013 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion, the largest number of entries ever for the contest. Together with Jon Kvanvig, distinguished professor of philosophy at Baylor University, the judges for the contest were Daniel Howard-Snyder, professor of philosophy at Western Washington University, and Bradley Monton, professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. The vote was unanimous in favor of Jonathan Jacobs for his paper “The Ineffable, Inconceivable, and Incomprehensible God: Fundamentality and Apophatic Theology.”

2011 Winner

photo of Ted PostonTed Poston, University of South Alabama
Title: “Social Evil” (PDF)

In just it’s second year, the Sanders Prize for Philosophy of Religion received a significant number of high-quality entries. The winning essay was “Social Evil” by Ted Poston of the University of South Alabama, whose submission will be included in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.

2010 Winner

photo of Dennis WhitcombDennis Whitcomb, Western Washington University
Title: “Grounding and Omniscience” (PDF)

The judges of the 2010 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion considered a total of 46 entries and selected seven for the final round of their deliberations. Of those seven, four were recommended for publication in the forthcoming volume of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, testifying to the strength of the essays submitted. The winning essay was “Grounding and Omniscience” by Dennis Whitcomb of Western Washington University.