The University of Massachusetts Amherst


The Philosophy Department awards two Essay Prizes: the Jonathan Edwards Prize—for a paper by an undergraduate philosophy major—and the Herbert Heidelberger Prize—for a paper by a graduate student. In addition to these two prizes, the Department awards the John Robison Prize for excellence in teaching by a graduate student. See below for more details about each of the prizes, as well as a list of past awardees.

The Jonathan Edwards Essay Prize

At the end of each academic year, the Philosophy Department awards the Jonathan Edwards prize for the best essay by an undergraduate philosophy major, among those nominated by philosophy department instructors. If you have an essay you would like considered, contact your instructor about nominating it. 

2019 Issa Sayegh, “The Nature of Properly Basic Belief and a Defense of Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology”
2018 Zoey Payne, “Evidence and Agency: The Collapse of the Sartrean Response”
Atticus Meche, “Fodor and Innate Concepts”
2017 Zoey Payne, “Emotion and Literature”
2016 Haley Schilling, “Born This Way: The Search for the Cause of Same-Sex Attraction”
Haley Schilling, “Belief Forming Processes are Rationally Permissive”
2014 Nicholas Vallone, “Kant and the Problem of Other Minds”
2013 Joseph Gamache, “C S Lewis and the Argument Against Naturalism”
2012 Benny Mattis, “Meaning Like we Mean It”
2010 Michael Demo, “Cartesian Trialism and mind-Body Interactionism”
Nicholas Helpa, “Are Moral Reasons Practical?”
Robert Muckle, “Properties, Propositions, and Weak Gloabal Supervenience as a Dependence Relation”
2008 Annalee Locke, “Agency and Action”
2007 Timothy Prisk, “Aristotle on Friendship”
2006 Timothy Prisk, “Shifting the Begriffsschrift: Rescontructing Frege‘s Logicism in Relevant Logic”
Byron Wallace, “Responses to the “Fine-Tuning Argument”
2005 Paul Dubois, “In Defense of Exaggeration”
Jeremy Browne, “St Augustine, The Problem of Evil, and William Shakespeare”
2004 Christopher Nason, “Russellian Responses to Kripkean Objections to the Theory of Definite Descriptions”
Paul Dubois, “Anselm‘s Devil”
Jesse Kuchin, “Eminent Containment in Descartes‘ Theory of Causation”
Keira Manikoff, “Mind-Body Interation, Descartes‘ Causal Principles, and the Third Substance Theory”
2003 Thomas Kushin, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument of Al-Ghazali”
Krista Meyer, “Augustine‘s Account of Signification”

The Herbert Heidelberger Prize

Herbert Heidelberger was an important member of the department from 1967 to 1982, when he died of cancer. Professor Heidelberger was an inspiring teacher and influential philosopher and colleague who played an important role in contributing to the early quality and reputation of the department.

The Heidelberger Prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding starred papers during an academic year. Its main value is the recognition it confers upon a paper as an outstanding piece of philosophical writing.

Members of the reading committee for a starred paper may nominate it for the prize, as long as it received a grade of PASS. The full faculty considers nominated papers from both semesters, and a unanimous vote is required for awarding the prize.

The prize and associated monetary award may be shared, or not awarded at all. No student may win the prize more than once.

2019 Chaeyoung Paek, “Collectively Making Things: Problems for Evnine’s Neo-Aristotelianism”
2018 David Turon, “A New Probability-Raisers of Processes Account of Causation”
2017 Justis Koon, “Options Must be External”
Ryan Olsen, “Moving Through Time:The Stoics on the Division Between Past and Future”
2016 Patrick Grafton-Cardwell, “A Solution to the Enigma of Categories
2015 Cameron Gibbs, “Hume’s Dictum”
John Robison, “Skepticism about Skepticism about Moral Responsibility”
2014 Pengbo Liu, “Higher-Order Thought and Higher-Order Misrepresentation”
Tricia Magalotti, “On The Prospects for a Social Defense of Armchair Methods”
2013 Robert Gruber, “A Desertist Solution to a Puzzle about Justice”
2012 Julietta Rose, “In Bad Company: Fodor’s Informational Semantics and Euthyphro’s Fallacy”
2011 Casey Knight, “Primitive Grounding and Reduced Fundamentality”
2010 Matthew Gifford, “Skepticism and Elegance”
2009 Heidi Buetow, “Relativism and Ignorant Assessors”
Kristian Olsen, “The Imagination Model of Dreaming:  Not the Complete Solution to Dreaming Skepticism”
2008 Kristoffer Ahlstrom, “What Descartes Didn’t Know”
2007 Ed Ferrier, “Priority Monism”
Alex Sarch, “What‘s Wrong with Megalopsychia?”
2006 Jeff Dunn, “The Obscure Act of Perception”
2005 Meghan Masto, “On Williamson on Evidence and Justification”
Kirk Michaelian, “(Aristotle on) What Oedipus did at the Crossroads”
2004 Brad Chynoweth, “Descartes’ Resolution of the Dreaming Doubt”
2003 Stephan Torre, “Identity, Time, and Change in Hume’s Treatise”
2002 Brandt Van der Gaast, “Supervenience vs. Recombination”
Jason Raibley, “An Examination of Perfectionism”
2001 Kris McDaniel, “Tropes and Ordinary Physical Objects”
Michael Rubin, “Aristotle on Ignorance and Involuntariness”
2000 Marcy Lascano, “Incontinence: Does Aquinas Have It?”
Stephen Masterman, “Are We Free to Change God’s Beliefs?”

The John Robison Prize For Excellence in Teaching

The Robison Prize is awarded to the graduate student(s) who, in the judgment of the Department, made the most valuable contribution to the Department’s undergraduate teaching mission, as a TA or TO, during Spring and Fall of the previous academic year.

2019 Tim Juvshik (TA), Thomas Shea (TO)
2018 Molly O'Rourke-Friel (TA), Wally Wirchnianski (TAs), Cameron Gibbs (TO)
2017 Justis Koon, Ryan Olsen
2016 Bailie Peterson, Andréa Wilson
2015 Tricia Magalotti, John Robison
2014 Josh Di Paolo, Robert Gruber
2013 Luis Oliveira
2012 Miles Tucker
2011 Edward Ferrier, Kristian Olsen
2010 Casey Knight, Josh Moulton
2009 Donovan Cox, Sam Cowling
2008 Heidi Buetow, Dan Doviak
2007 James Johnson
2006 Meghan Masto