Mirja Perez de Calleja, a philosophy doctoral student at Florida State University, has won the Philosophical Explorations Essay Prize for 2014, a competition that is open to both students and junior faculty members working in the philosophy of mind and action.
Perez de Calleja’s essay, “,” delves into determinism, where all events are ultimately determined by causes external to the will, and indeterminism, where some events are not determined by their causes.
Specifically, she argues that if the world is indeterministic, people have less control over their behavior than if it is deterministic because an action that is not determined by its causes — including its mental causes — is chancy and hence, insofar as chancy, beyond personal control.
“I argue that indeterminism introduces no chanciness or luck in how we act, because our chancy and lucky actions aren’t less chancy or lucky if the world is deterministic,” she said.
A three-person jury unanimously chose Perez de Calleja’s essay as the winner, calling it “a clearly argued and convincing paper with a substantive thesis.” As the winning essay, it is featured as the opening article of the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal (Vol. 17, No. 2).
Perez de Calleja, 30, first became fascinated with philosophy while reading Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” as a high school student in her native Spain. Years later, she earned her first doctorate in philosophy cum laude from the University of Girona in 2013.
“I never thought I’d win this prize. It was a great surprise when I was notified,” she said. “I’m really happy, especially because my paper will have more readers than it would have had if it hadn’t won, and because of the positive impact the prize is likely to have on my career.”
Piers Rawling, professor and chairman of the department, praised Perez de Calleja as “an impressive philosophy Ph.D. student.”
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