WASHINGTON, DC – Renowned philosophy scholars Ernest Sosa and Stephen Stich, both Board of Governors Professors of Philosophy at Rutgers University, have won the 2016 Dr. Martin R. Lebowitz and Eve Lewellis Lebowitz Prizes for Philosophical Achievement and Contribution.
A top honor recognizing outstanding achievement in the field, the prizes are awarded annually by the Phi Beta Kappa Society in conjunction with the American Philosophical Association (APA). Each winner will receive an award of $26,500.
Lebowitz Prize winners must be two philosophers who hold contrasting views on a chosen topic of current interest in philosophy. They present their views and engage in rich dialogue at an annual Lebowitz Symposium and at a public lecture.
The Lebowitz Symposium by Sosa and Stich will focus on the topic of intuition in philosophical methodology, a subject about which both prizewinners have published extensively. The symposium will be held at the APA’s Pacific Division meeting April 12-15, 2017, in Seattle, with a public talk sponsored by The Phi Beta Kappa Society at a later date.
“This is a very great honor in two respects,” said Sosa. “It is wonderful to be recognized for your contributions, but it also is an honor to be invited to collaborate with a colleague who holds a contrasting view, to engage in point-counterpoint discussion.”
Stich says he was “surprised and gratified to win so prestigious a prize” and to share it with Sosa, a colleague of many decades. “He and I have been amicably debating this topic for some time.”
The subject of intuition is one of vigorous discussion among philosophers today. Broadly defined, intuitions are spontaneous judgments or beliefs that are among important sources of evidence that philosophers historically use in developing and testing their theories.
In recent years, an “experimental philosophy” movement has arisen that is using social science methodology to test the universality of some intuitions commonly relied on by philosophers. This evidence suggests that intuitions are influenced by irrelevant factors like ethnicity and gender.
“This then poses a major challenge for an important methodology that philosophers have used since Plato,” says Stich, who is an experimental philosopher.
Both philosophers agree that intuitions are used as evidence for and against philosophical theories, but disagree on whether experimental philosophers have succeeded in demonstrating the intuitions are subject to irrelevant influences, says Stich.
“Sosa has argued that the experiments allegedly showing this are flawed or inconclusive,” he says, adding, “He raises clear challenges to the work that are important to debate. It’s a very productive dialogue.”
Sosa says his Lebowitz lecture will go beyond his critique of experimental philosophy to offer a positive account of philosophical methodology.
Sosa is a leading epistemologist and among the most influential philosophers of the last half-century. He is author of numerous articles and books, including Judgment and Agency (Oxford University Press 2015). He edits the journals Nous and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Sosa (PBK, University of Miami) taught at Brown University from 1964 to 2007 and became Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University in 2008. He earned his B.A. from the University of Miami and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.
Sosa has received numerous grants and fellowships. He was Locke lecturer at Oxford University, and Carus lecturer at the American Philosophical Association. He won the Rescher Prize from the University of Pittsburgh, and the Quinn Prize from the American Philosophical Association, where he was president of its Eastern Division, and Chair of its Board of Officers. He was elected in 2001 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Stephen Stich (PBK, University of Pennsylvania) is a celebrated philosopher and cognitive scientist who is widely known for his work in the philosophy of language, epistemology, the philosophy of mind and moral psychology. He was part of a major interdisciplinary research project of the Arts & Humanities Research Council in the UK, Culture and the Mind, which investigated the philosophical consequences of the impact of culture on the mind.
Stich has received awards, grants and fellowships from institutions around the world, including American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Institut Jean Nicod, Paris; Australian National University; National Endowment for the Humanities; Woodrow Wilson Foundation; National Science Foundation; and American Council of Learned Societies.
Stich is director of the Research Group on Evolution & Higher Cognition at Rutgers University and was an honorary professor of philosophy at University of Sheffield, England. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.
The Lebowitz Prizes were established in 2012 by a generous bequest from Eve Lewellis Lebowitz in honor of her late husband, Martin R. Lebowitz, a distinguished philosophical critic. Past symposium topics have included: “Social Epistemology,” “Grounding in Metaphysics,” and “Expanding Justice, Including Disability.”
Deadline for nominations/applications for the 2017 Lebowitz Prize is November 1, 2016. To apply, contact Laura Hartnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the American Philosophical Association
Founded in 1900, the American Philosophical Association promotes the discipline and profession of philosophy, both within the academy and in the public arena. The APA supports the professional development of philosophers at all levels and works to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the value of philosophical inquiry.
About The Phi Beta Kappa Society
Founded on Dec. 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at 286 colleges and universities in the United States, almost 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court Justices and more than 130 Nobel Laureates. The mission of The Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence. For more information, visit www.pbk.org.