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 are closed for this cycle. Please check back soon for the next competition.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. 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.
Jonathan Simon, NYU. Title: Experiencing Left and Right in a Non-Orientable World (PDF)
Congratulations to Jonathan Simon, Postdoctoral Associate in the Philosophy Department at NYU, and Research Fellow at NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness for winning the 2018 Sanders Prize in the Philosophy of Mind. The abstract is below.
Abstract: Consider the totality of your phenomenal experience right now — your total experience. Is there a total experience which is phenomenally different from yours, but which differs only by a mirror symmetry, the way that a picture of a left hand differs from a picture of right hand, or is there no phenomenal difference between a total experience and its mirror-reversal? If you think that there is a phenomenal distinction between an experience and its mirror reversal (a position Chalmers dubs `e-categoricalism’) then you may find it intuitive that your mirror twin — someone who is a molecule-for-molecule mirror reflection of you — in general has a different experience than you. After all, if you are looking at your left hand, she is looking at her right hand. Lee (2006) argues, however, that your mirror twin must be your phenomenal twin, if relationalism about space is correct. Paired with e-categorialism this has puzzling consequences. Here, I begin by challenging Lee. I argue that even given relationalism about space, your mirror twin can fail to be your phenomenal twin. But this result is limited. It only applies where you and your mirror twin both live in a universe with an orientable topology. If your universe has a non-orientable topology (in the sense in which Möbius strips and Klein bottles have non-orientable topologies) then your mirror twin must be your phenomenal twin after all. Moreover, this moral applies even to those who reject relationalism about space. The upshot is that everyone, non-relationalists included, must either abandon e-categoricalism, or choose between puzzling consequences along the lines Lee outlines, the most promising of which may be property dualism.
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.
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.
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.
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.