Skip to content

Libertarianism Philosophy Essay Prize

Current Competition Details

Note:Submissions are due by September 15th, 2018.

The Conditions:
We invite submissions of unpublished essays (minimum 3,000 words, maximum 8,000) with significant philosophical content or method by authors with significant philosophical training.

There is no restriction to any area of philosophy. Unlike other Marc Sanders Prizes there is no restriction to junior candidates. Philosophers at any career stage are encouraged to submit. No more than one submission per person. Previously published essays will not be considered.

The most important condition is that essays should be written to engage the general reader.

The winner of the Marc Sanders Award for Public Philosophy will receive $4,500. The winning essay will be published in Philosophers’ Imprint. Philosophers’ Imprint is a free online journal specializing in major original contributions to philosophy. The runner up (and perhaps even two runners up) will be published in Aeon (subject to their editorial conditions).

The Award Committee is Chaired by Susan Wolf (UNC Chapel Hill). The committee will also include Ken Taylor (Stanford University and Philosophy Talk), Barry Maguire (Stanford University), David Velleman (NYU and Editor of Philosophers’ Imprint), and Brigid Hains (Editorial Director, Aeon Magazine).

Please submit your blinded entry to
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

Prize Winners

2016 Winner

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.

BSHP Annual Graduate Student Essay Prize

About the Graduate Student Essay Prize

The BSHP Graduate Student Essay Prize of £1000 is awarded annually to the writer of an essay that makes a significant contribution to the history of philosophy. In exceptional cases, more than one essay may be jointly awarded the Prize, and the prize money divided between them. The competition is open to postgraduate students who are in full- or part-time education for at least six months in the year prior to the deadline for submission. Where the winning entry is deemed of sufficient quality and significance, it may also be considered for publication in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy. The winner is chosen by a subcommittee of the BSHP Management Committee, which may request opinion from external experts on the entries. The Prize winner is announced at the BSHP annual spring conference.

How to Enter the Competition

  • Entry is open to students of any nationality registered at any university in any country, studying any subject. Entrants do not need to be members of the BSHP.
  • Essays may be on any aspect of the history of philosophy.
  • Essays that have been published or accepted for publication will not be considered. Essays that have been submitted to journals, but not yet accepted for publication, will be considered.
  • Entries should be in English, and should not exceed 10,000 words in length (including footnotes, bibliography, and abstract).
  • Each entry must be accompanied by an abstract of around 300 words. Entries that are too long or without an abstract will not be considered.
  • Each entry should be prepared for blind refereeing: there should be no reference to the author, either by name or department. Any references to the author’s own work, for example, should be given in such a form as not to identify the author.
  • Entries must be made through the submissions portal for the British Journal for the History of Philosophy: . In your covering letter, state that your entry is a submission for the Graduate Student Essay Prize and provide your name, institution, address, and statement of your postgraduate student status (including details of the university where you are registered and the name(s) of your supervisor(s).
  • Please note that a submission to the essay prize does not constitute or entail a submission to the journal.

Submissions for the 2017 Prize will be accepted until 31 December 2017. If you have any questions, please contact Beth Lord: Please do not submit your essay to this email address.

Recent Society News

For more news, click here.