Political Philosophy

photo of Peter VallentyneThe Sanders Prize in Political Philosophy is administered by Peter Vallentyne (Florence G. Kline Chair in Philosophy at the University of Missouri), in conjunction with David Sobel and Steven Wall, the other two editors of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy.

Note: Submissions closed April 1st, 2017. There will be no Political Philosophy Prize for 2018. The competition will take place again in 2019 under the guidelines below.

Current Competition Details

The Marc Sanders Prize in Political Philosophy is an essay competition open to scholars who, at the time of submission deadline, are within fifteen (15) years of receiving a Ph.D. or are students currently enrolled in a graduate program. Independent scholars may also be eligible and should direct inquiries to the Editors of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, c/o Peter Vallentyne (vallentynep@nullmissouri.edu). Those who have previously won this award (in Political Philosophy) and invited papers to the annual Workshop in Political Philosophy are not eligible.

The award for the prize-winning essay is $10,000, and winning essays will be published in Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. A condition of the award is that the author (1) present the paper at the following annual Workshop for Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, and (2) commit to having the paper published in the associated Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy and to not publishing elsewhere prior to that publication. More information about the workshop can be found at oxforstudiespoliticalphilosophy.org.

Submitted essays must present original research on central issues in political or social philosophy, such as moral issues relating to the state or the justification of force, authority, obligation, justice, freedom, rights, exploitation, oppression, etc. Essays should be between 7,500 and 12,000 words. Coauthored papers are eligible, but only if all authors are eligible. Up to two papers by a given author will be considered, as long as the author is not sole author of both. (For example, for a given person, a single-authored paper and a co-authored paper will be considered, but two single-authored papers will not both be considered.) Papers should be uploaded after logging in at oxfordstudiespoliticalphilosophy.org. Because refereeing will be blind, authors should omit all remarks and references that might disclose their identities. The winner will be determined by the three editors of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy.

Prize Winners

2016 Winner

photo of Alex ZakarasAlex Zakaras, University of Vermont, has won the 2016 Sanders Prize in Political Philosophy for his paper “Complicity and Coercion: Towards an Ethics of Political Participation.”  Zakaras is Associate Professor at The University of Vermont, specializing in political philosophy and the history of political thought.

This year there were over 45 essays submitted for the prize competition.

Zakaras will be presenting his award-winning paper, “Complicity and Coercion: Towards an Ethics of Political Participation,” at the 4th Annual Workshop for Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy that will take place in Barcelona, Spain, June 1-3, 2016 (The full schedule for the conference will be available at the conference Web page.) The paper will also be published in Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy.

Abstract: This essay has three parts. First, I develop a causal account of individual complicity in collective injustice. Second, drawing on this account, I argue that citizens are often complicit in their government’s injustices, even when they do nothing more than obey the law, pay taxes, and lead ordinary, private lives. Though this claim has become relatively commonplace in the recent theoretical literature on global justice, it is seldom justified adequately. I maintain that citizens can be complicit despite the fact that their participation in collective injustice is typically coerced, and I consider the conditions under which state coercion might exonerate them. Third, I suggest that citizens’ complicity gives rise—especially in democratic polities—to an obligation to participate responsibly in politics.

An honorable mention goes to Thomas Sinclair (University of Oxford), the runner-up for the prize. His paper was titled “The Power of Public Positions: Official Roles in Kantian Legitimacy.”

2015 Winner

photo of Keith HyamsKeith Hyams has won the inaugural Sanders Prize in Political Philosophy. Hyams is Associate Professor of Political Theory and Interdisciplinary Ethics in the department of Politics and International Studies at The University of Warwick, where he teaches political theory and works with the Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group.

This year there were over 75 essays submitted for the prize competition.

Hyams will be presenting his award-winning paper, “On the Contribution of Ex Ante Equality to Ex Post Fairness,” at the Workshop for Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy that will take place at Syracuse University September 18th-20th, 2015 (The full schedule for the conference will be available at the conference Web page.) The conference is free and open to the public. The paper will also be published in Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy.