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Andrew Wilcox Wins Prize for Best Undergraduate Paper

October 27, 2023

Andrew Wilcox

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to announce that Andrew Wilcox, BA Honours in Philosophy and Minor in Professional Writing student, is the winner of the 2022-23 inaugural Annual Prize for Best Undergraduate Paper for his essay titled "Christian Augustus Crusius and Immanuel Kant on the Principle of Determining Reason: Free First Actions and Antecedently Determining Causes."

Abstract: The principle of sufficient reason (PSR) claims that everything that exists has a reason for why it exists. Christian August Crusius (1743), unhappy with the state of the PSR, reframes its scope. Crusius insists that, unlike the PSR, his new principle of determining reason (PDR) does not apply to free first actions, or actions from free will, since this entails determinism and produces a contradiction. Further, free first actions do not have an antecedent, or prior, determining cause. Immanuel Kant (1755) approves of Crusius’ reformulation of the PSR as the PDR but rejects the claim that free first actions do not require an antecedently determining cause. This essay discusses how Kant can hold the view, via the system of physical influx, that freely-willed actions have a prior determining cause and not imply determinism concerning actions from free will.

The nominating professor Dr. Nabeel Hamid writes:

The paper is impressive in its sustained examination of a perennial philosophical problem while at the same time excavating unfamiliar historical territory. I believe it sets a high standard for advanced undergraduate essays in the history of philosophy.

The Annual Prize for Best Undergraduate Paper is a new merit based student award. It is supported by the Vladimir Zeman Award Fund, established in honour of Professor Emeritus Vladimir Zeman’s longstanding and highly regarded contributions to teaching students in the Department of Philosophy.

Congratulations, Andrew!

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