2018 Res Philosophica Essay Prize

Reasons and Rationality

Prize Winner: Jack Woods
Abstract (Show/Hide)
Philosophical arguments usually are and nearly always should be abductive. Across many areas, philosophers are starting to recognize that often the best we can do in theorizing some phenomena is put forward our best overall account of it, warts and all. This is especially true in areas like logic, aesthetics, mathematics, and morality where the data to be explained are often based in our stubborn intuitions. While this methodological shift is welcome, it's not without problems. Abductive arguments involve significant theoretical resources which themselves can be part of what's being disputed. This means that we will sometimes find otherwise good arguments suggesting their own grounds are problematic. In particular, sometimes revising our beliefs on the basis of an argument can undermine the very justification we used in that argument. This feature, which I'll call self-effacingness, occurs most dramatically in arguments against our standing views on the subject matters mentioned above: logic, mathematics, aesthetics, and morality. This is because these subject matters all play a role in how we reason abductively. This isn't an idle fact; we can resist some challenges to our standing beliefs about these subject matters exactly because the challenges are self-effacing. The self-effacing character of certain arguments is thus both a benefit and a limitation of the abductive turn and deserves serious attention. I aim to give it the attention it deserves.

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Jack Woods is a University Academic Fellow in Mathematical Philosophy at the University of Leeds. He works in the philosophy of logic, language, and metaethics. He also has interests in ancient philosophy. Recent work has focused on a defense of a conventional approach to normativity, especially the normativity of logic.

Original Call For Papers (Show/Hide)

Reasons and Rationality

Res Philosophica is pleased to announce that it is collaborating with the Saint Louis Annual Conference on Reasons and Rationality (SLACRR) to produce a special issue of the journal on Reasons and Rationality. The special issue will include a paper by the keynote speaker, Mark van Roojen.

Deadline and Dates

• Conference Abstract Submissions: January 15, 2018
• SLACRR Conference: May 20-22, 2018
• Journal Submissions: August 31, 2018

Prize for Best Paper: $3,000


SLACRR is co-organized by philosophers from University of Missouri-St Louis, Washington University, and Saint Louis University. Conference and abstract-submission information can be found here.

Papers accepted for presentation at SLACRR will be eligible to be considered for publication in the special issue of the journal. Papers accepted by the journal will be eligible for the prize for best paper.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions will be triple anonymously reviewed. (First, authors do not know the identity of the referees, second, referees do not know the identity of the authors, and third, 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 (including footnotes).

We prefer submissions in pdf format, though we will accept Microsoft Word documents. Papers may be submitted in any standard style, but authors of accepted papers will be required to edit their papers according to the journal’s style, which follows The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition). Style instructions are available here.

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