Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Announcing the winner of the Philosophy Through Fiction contest

Friday, 28 April 2017

Philosophy with Fiction

Dr Helen De Cruz, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford Brookes, organised a short story competition for the American Philosophical Association with the aim of encouraging philosophers to use fiction to explore philosophical ideas.

Philosophical fiction allows writers to explore ideas that cannot be easily dealt with in the format of a journal article or monograph. Some philosophical ideas are better expressed in a story than in a traditional essay, as works by Iris Murdoch and Jean Paul Sartre suggest.

704 writers submitted stories that covered many genres of fiction and included one or more philosophical idea. A dedicated team of readers atSci PhiJournal checked the stories for quality, and a panel of judges – Eric Schwitzgebel, Meghan Sullivan, and Mark Silcox – considered the remaining stories. 

The winner of the Philosophy Through Fiction prize is Lisa Schoenberg, Professor of Philosophy at Cheyney University, Pennsylvania for her story Adjoiners. This well-paced, immersive story considers the question of whether you can commit a crime against yourself.

The judges chose to give an honourable mention to Morality Tale by John Holbo, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. This story asks what it would mean for something we would normally consider morally terrible to be good, and what this implies for stories that recount these situations.

Both stories will be published in the June issue of Sci Phi Journal, with the winner receiving a $500 prize. The organisers plan to publish an edited volume of stories submitted.

The competition was funded by the American Philosophical Association’s Berry Fund for Public Philosophy. Dr De Cruz would like to thank the American Philosophical Association for “the grant that made this possible, and we thank everyone who has participated in this competition, and the judges”.