Current Competition Details
Note: Submissions are due by September 15th, 2018.
We are pleased to announce that there will be two prizes available this year, one for an unpublished essay, and one for an essay published within a year of the deadline. The deadline for both is 15 September 2018. The award for each prize is $4,500. In addition, the top three unpublished essays will be passed to the Editorial Director and a Senior Editor at Aeon and will be considered carefully for publication. Any essay which is not accepted for publication will be given a written report from the senior editor about its strengths and weaknesses, with suggestions for alternative publication venues. No more than one essay per author will be considered across the two prizes.
To be eligible for the prize for a published essay, please submit a copy of your essay, together with publication details, to firstname.lastname@example.org. An article counts as ‘published’ so long as it is published between the date of 16 September 2017 and the deadline for the award, 15 September 2018. An article featured on a personal website does not count as published. However, an article on a public website may count as published; decisions will be made on a case by case basis; feel free to include any qualifying information in the body of the submission email. Long-form submissions will be preferred, but articles of any length will be considered. There is no restriction to any area of philosophy. Unlike other Marc Sanders Prizes, this prize is not restricted to junior candidates.
Please submit your unpublished essays, anonymized for blind review, to email@example.com. For this prize, we will only consider long-form essays (minimum 2,500 words, maximum 7,000) with significant philosophical content or method by authors with significant philosophical training. The most important condition is that essays should be written to engage the general reader. There is no restriction to any area of philosophy. For this prize, there is no restriction to junior candidates. Philosophers at any career stage are encouraged to submit. Previously published essays will not be considered for this prize.
The Award Committee is Chaired by Susan Wolf (UNC Chapel Hill). The committee will also include Ken Taylor (Stanford University and Philosophy Talk), and Barry Maguire (Stanford University).
Please submit your blinded entry to firstname.lastname@example.org
by 15 September 2018. Please include the essay title in the subject line. Receipt of submissions will be acknowledged by email. Refereeing will be blind; authors should omit all remarks and references that might disclose their identities.
Any inquiries should be sent to Barry Maguire at email@example.com
Martin Smith, University of Edinburgh
Title: “Why Throwing 92 Heads in a Row is Not Surprising” (PDF)
Congratulations to Martin Smith, the 2016 winner of the inaugural Sanders Prize in Public Philosophy for his paper “Why Throwing 92 Heads in a Row is Not Surprising”. The selection committee was chaired by Susan Wolf (UNC Chapel Hill), with Patricia O’Toole (Columbia University), Thomas Hofweber (UNC Chapel Hill), and Barry Maguire, (UNC Chapel Hill). There were 64 essays submitted for the prize competition.
Martin is a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, specializing in epistemology, logic, and philosophy of law. His paper will be published in Philosophers’ Imprint.
Abstract: Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” opens with a puzzling scene in which the title characters are betting on coin throws and observe a seemingly astonishing run of 92 heads in a row. Guildenstern grows uneasy and proposes a number of unsettling explanations for what is occurring. Then, in a sudden change of heart, he appears to suggest that there is nothing surprising about what they are witnessing, and nothing that needs any explanation. He says ‘…each individual coin spun individually is as likely to come down heads as tails and therefore should cause no surprise each time it does.’ In this article I argue that Guildenstern is right – there is nothing surprising about throwing 92 heads in a row. I go on to consider the relationship between surprise, probability and belief.
An honorable mention goes to Regina Rini (NYU), the runner-up for the prize. Her paper, titled ‘“How Should A Robot Be?”, was published in Aeon.
Both Smith and Rini’s essays will be cross-posted in Salon and The Point.