Theological Dogma and Philosophical Innovation
in Medieval Philosophy

Special Editor: Susan Brower-Toland

Submission Deadline Extended: July 1 August 1, 2021

Prize: $3,000

Call for Papers

Res Philosophica invites papers on the topic of “Theological Dogma and Philosophical Innovation in Medieval Philosophy” for the 2021 Res Philosophica Essay Prize. The author of the winning paper will receive a prize of $3,000 and publication in the special issue of the journal on the same topic. Unless otherwise requested, submissions for the prize will be automatically considered for publication in the journal's special issue. Accepted papers will be published alongside invited papers by Giorgio Pini and Christina Van Dyke.


Philosophy during the medieval period is deeply influenced and significantly shaped by the religious and theological commitments that define not only the outlook of its individual practitioners, but also the institutional and cultural context within which medieval philosophy develops. Philosophical theorizing during this period is often and explicitly in service of theological ends. And even when philosophers are not explicitly concerned with matters theological, philosophical speculation is nevertheless inevitably constrained by theological boundaries. After all, an adequate, systematic account of any aspect of reality must accommodate relevant theological data.

It would be easy, in light of this, to suppose the theological commitments and constraints that characterize philosophy during this period had a largely stultifying effect on its development. But such an assumption, would significantly miss the mark. In point of fact, mapping the theological contours of the medieval philosophical landscape required a great deal of ingenuity and originality from philosophers engaged in the project. Indeed, it is the attempt to philosophically articulate (or accommodate) the theological cases that prompts some of the most interesting and important philosophical innovations to emerge during the period. For instance, philosophical reflection on the doctrine of the Trinity motivates new ways of theorizing about the nature of relations, especially, relations of identity and distinction. The doctrine of the Eucharist stimulates debate on a host of issues in metaphysics: for example, questions about the nature of accidents, and about the nature of spatial location (in particular, questions about the possibility of co- and multiple-location of material objects). Again, debates about nature of the Beatific Vision stimulates speculation on a number of issues in philosophical psychology including issues surrounding the nature of happiness, and the nature of conscious experience. The list goes on.

Res Phil invites submissions addressing and providing new insights into the relationship between theological dogma and philosophical innovation in medieval philosophy. We encourage papers that explore:
  • Ways in which philosophers incorporate theological data in philosophical theorizing: are the supernatural cases treated as exceptional, or do such cases drive the theory?

  • Specific instances in which theological considerations drive some advance in a philosophical debate by, say, motivating new theories, new distinctions, or new objections and counterexamples to standard theories.

  • Religious texts, theological doctrines that serve as context for developing or debating purely philosophical ideas, distinctions, or theories.

These are just a sample of the sorts of issue that submissions might address. Papers that address other topics in the neighborhood are welcome including submission that explore this theme in women, Islamic, or Jewish thinkers.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions will be triple anonymously reviewed: authors do not know the identity of the referees; referees do not know the identity of the authors; and editors do not know the identity of the authors. Please format your submission so that it is suitable for anonymous review. (Instructions are available here.)

We do not normally publish papers longer than 12,000 words long (including footnotes). We prefer initial submissions in PDF format, but will also accept LaTeX and Microsoft Word documents. For accepted papers, we prefer Word, but accept LaTeX documents as well.

Please use the online submission form for submitting your essay, available