The Winners of the 3 Quarks Daily 2010 Philosophy Prize

TOP_Quark_2010_New Philosophy-Strange-wake PhilCharm2010

Akeel Bilgrami has picked the three winners:

  1. Top Quark, $1000: Justin Erik Halldor Smith: More on Non-Western Philosophy (the Very Idea)
  2. Strange Quark, $300: Tomkow: The Retributive Theory of Property
  3. Charm Quark, $200: Brian Leiter's Nietzsche Blog: Katsafanas on “Nietzsche's Philosophical Psychology”

Here is what Professor Bilgrami had to say about them:

Blogs are not easy to assess for a prize.

For one thing, unlike the standard journal article, the length of blogs is quite variable as is evident among the finalists for the 3 Quarks Daily prize for philosophical blogs. The short blogs are at a disadvantage because they are bound –prima facie– to be more limited in ambition and in patient development of an argument. This was true for most of the shorter blogs I was sent –and I found myself wishing that the authors had allowed themselves more words.

For another, blogs are often embedded in larger contexts of writing because they are often responses to earlier postings. This is fine for the devoted reader who has been following the entire thread of postings. But for someone wheeled in as a judge for a prize, the most embedded of blogs are willy-nilly given as self-standing. Of course, if one is alert, one can surmise the larger context sufficiently to get a sense of the blog’s chief points and purpose. Still, it puts those blogs, which are more deeply embedded in earlier discussions at a disadvantage when compared with blogs which are first off and therefore manifestly self-standing.

Following instructions, I’ve selected three blogs.

The third prize goes to the blog on the Nietzsche discussion site. It had a number of interesting points to make and it may well have been placed higher if I had had a chance to read the earlier posting to which it was a response. As it happens, since I didn’t, I was left with a blinded appreciation of the overall dialectic on the issues at stake, but nevertheless appreciated some of the philosophical points that could be distilled despite missing the full sense of the background to the discussion.

The second prize goes to the longish self-standing discussion of property rights. The essay is smart, it is written with verve and high spirits, even as it makes its several historical and analytical claims concisely. I would have thought that what it says of property rights could not possibly extend to some rights that are not part of the standard liberal repertory of rights, even though the author begins with a discussion of a retributive theory of rights, in general.

The first prize goes to the essay on Western and non-Western philosophy. Despite one of the responses to it which makes a claim to exceptions, I think, the essay gives a more or less accurate description of the assumptions underlying the angle we have tended to take on non-Western philosophy and it makes a telling criticism against those assumptions. It is a good example of how one can learn about our own limitations by taking a critical look at how we tend to view others. It, like the previous blog I mentioned, is also very engagingly written and, I daresay, (despite one or two moments of hyperbole), it is measurably more believable.

My congratulations to the winners.

Congratulations also from 3QD to the winners (I will send the prize money later today–and remember, you must claim the money within one month from today–just send me an email). And feel free to leave your acceptance speech as a comment here! And thanks to everyone who participated. Thanks also, of course, to Akeel Bilgrami for doing the final judging.

The three prize logos at the top of this post were designed, respectively, by Carla Goller, Sughra Raza, and me. I hope the winners will display them with pride on their own blogs!

Details about the prize here.