AAP Media Prize

The Australasian Association of Philosophy (AAP) offers an annual prize of $500 for the best philosophical piece(s) published by a professional philosopher in the popular media in Australasia during the previous calendar year. First awarded in 1999, the prize is offered to encourage and promote philosophical discussion in the popular media.

Criteria of Evaluation

There are two main criteria for the award of this prize:

1. The ability of the piece(s) to engage the interest of the general public in philosophy or some philosophical issue. 

2. The quality of the piece particularly the extent to which it reflects or is enriched by the nominee's specialist background in philosophy.

Consideration is also given to: 

3. The size of the audience reached.

Eligibility

The prize is open to professional philosophers who are, or who have been, actively engaged in philosophy in an Australasian higher education and/or research institute. ‘Professional philosopher’ includes Research Higher Degree students. It does not include those whose principal job is in the media; there is a separate prize for such persons, the AAP Media Professionals' Award.

Popular Media includes print and online publications as well as radio broadcasts, television broadcasts and film. Entries must be published or go to air in the year (calendar) previous to the prize award. No person may win the prize more than once.

Applications

Entries/nominations for piece(s) published in 2015 must be received by the Executive Officer no later than 29th February 2016

Entries should be received in electronic copy and include:
  • A completed nomination form , including a short statement against the judging criteria (no more than 500 words); and,
  • An electronic copy of the piece(s) (word doc, pdf, mpeg, or other format as appropriate)
Entries consisting of a lengthy portfolio of items should submit the best one or two and list the remainder. 
Nominations may be made ion behalf of others and should include the same material as per all entries.



The AAP Media Prize is sponsored by Taylor and Francis, the publishers of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.




Recipients of AAP Media Prize


2015


  
Dr Henry Martyn Lloyd
Henry Martyn Lloyd receives the 2015 AAP Media Prize for two pieces on free speech - an online article on The Drum (“Brandis misses the finer points of free speech”) and an interview with Ian Newton from Radio Adelaide. The print article is an excellent example of how to draw on a specialist background in philosophy to effectively intervene in public debate. Focusing on Attorney General George Brandis' appeal to John Stuart Mill in debates about Australia’s racial discrimination laws and climate change, Lloyd goes back to the original source to explain the details of Mill’s own argument, and in doing so helps to distinguish the philosophy from the political spin. The piece exemplifies clear, sustained philosophical argument. The pieces are engaging, both in style and because the issues are important. The judging panel also notes that the radio article was widely shared and 'liked' on social media, and there were 746 comments (125 printed pages) on the written article within the 24 hours during which it was open to comments. These comments stand as strong evidence of how when good philosophy is made accessible to a wide audience it can inspire genuine reflection and informed debate.

 
2014  Dr Patrick Stokes
Deakin University for several articles: “Burying Thatcher: why celebrating death is still wrong” (The Conversation, 17th April 2013); “Do you really exist online” (New Philosopher, 2013, Issue 2); and “Just who do you think you are? The splendid mess of personal identity” (New Philosopher, 2013, Issue 1).

The field of entries for the prize included several strong contenders. In reaching a decision, the panel noted that Stokes’ articles are models of accessible philosophical writing, striking a fine balance between public accessibility and philosophical analysis. The writing is excellent, and Stokes never presumes that readers will find philosophy inherently interesting; rather he shows how philosophical reflection can help illuminate issues that are the subject of public debate.

In “Burying Thatcher: why celebrating death is still wrong”, for example, Stokes succinctly identifies a number of moral issues at play in the emotionally and politically charged public discourse surrounding Thatcher’s death. Distinguishing between the commonplace that we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, and the related idea that we shouldn’t celebrate the death of another human being, he subjects both these commonplaces to an illuminating analysis. Drawing together ideas from different philosophical traditions, he develops a nuanced argument that while it is sometimes legitimate to speak ill of the dead – for example to make critical judgments about Thatcher’s life as a whole – it is never acceptable to celebrate the death of another human being. The article shows how good philosophy can lift the tone and improve the quality of public debate by bringing reasoned argument into the discussion of a polarizing topic.

Although the decision of the judging panel was based on the three nominated pieces, we also note that Stokes is a regular contributor to The Conversation and New Philosopher, and has made numerous appearances on radio programs including ABC Radio National’s Life Matters and The Philosopher’s Zone; Local ABC Radio; BBC Radio 3; and community radio station 3RRR in Melbourne. It is thus fitting to acknowledge his commitment to public philosophy, as well as the high quality of his contributions.



2013 Dr Damon Young
Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne

Awarded to Damon Young for his work in a range of media outlets on a broad variety of topics such as faith and freedom, the work of David Hume and the idea of a meaningful life.  His work, which is highly accessible and yet still intellectually sophisticated, has been published in mainstream print media such as the
Sydney Morning Herald and the Financial Review (which have a very wide readership) and he has appeared regularly on ABC Radio.  He has also argued passionately in these works for the continuing relevance of philosophy to both large-scale problems of public life and an individual person’s search for understanding.  (The clarity and insightfulness of his writing provides an argument in itself of the benefits of a philosophical education.)  The topics he explores are themselves of great interest to the general public and Damon is able to demonstrate the significance of the philosophical tradition to such discussions, and in so doing promotes philosophy in the community.

2012
Dr Paul Biegler
Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University. The Prize is awarded for his timely discussion of climate change scepticism in a widely read article in the Sydney Morning Herald (20/12/11) and for an interview on Life Matters on Radio National (7/9/11) that explored the ethical treatment of depression. The print article is elegantly written and in the radio interview Biegler persuasively argues his case. On both occasions, Biegler uses recent philosophical literature to shed light on topics of great public interest and in so doing he demonstrates the relevance of a philosophical education and of philosophical research to matters of contemporary significance.

 2011 Associate Professor Peter Slezak
School of History and Philosophy at the University of New South Wales for the pivotal role that he played in the production of the Compass program, The Trials of Galileo, which appeared on the ABC in May 2010.
In this program the trial of Galileo at the hands of the Roman Catholic Inquisition is re-examined.  Nearly 400 years after the original trial, the program brought together leadings scientists, scholars, barristers, politicians and churchmen to assess whether Galileo was correctly treated. This was an important television event that explored important philosophical themes about the relationship between religion and science. The program demonstrated a keen sense of how issues in the philosophy of science might be brought to life for a general audience.

 2010 Dr Caroline West
University of Sydney, as the winner of the 2010 AAP Media prize for a piece 'Work four hours, then rest' which appeared as the lead opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on 4 August 2009, and also in the Brisbane Courier-Mail and National Times. It led to more than 11 follow-up radio interviews. including ABC702 Sydney (Breakfast Program with Adam Spencer); ABC Newcastle (Drive program); ABC Tasmania; and ABC Melbourne (Drive Program).

  Caroline also delivered a public lecture at the 2009 Sydney Writers Festival, which was recorded and broadcast on ABC Radio National, The Philosopher's Zone, as 'The Happiness Machine' on 30 May, 2009. In addition, Caroline published 2 further opinion pieces in 2009:
 2009 Associate Professor John Armstrong
School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry, University of Melbourne and Philosopher in Residence at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, for a series of articles that appeared in The Age and the Australian on what is art and the function of the humanities. Articles nominated include:
 2008 Dr Geoffrey Levey
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of New South Wales, for his essay 'A healthy dose of multiculturalism', published in Australian Financial Review, 27 April 2007.

 2007 Dr Jeremy Moss
for a series of columns, 'The Ethicist', which appeared in The Sunday Age in 2006. 'The Ethicist' presents philosophical thinking to a wide audience on a regular basis, discussing issues of the day, with an explicitly philosophical focus. Moss has also written a number of articles on ethics in education for teachers magazines aimed at Victorian secondary schools.

2006 Simon Clarke
University of Canterbury for a series of newspaper columns entitled 'Clear Thinking' that appeared in the Christchurch Press.

2005 Kim Atkins
for her article 'Matters of personal preference', The Australian Financial Review.

2004 Stan Van Hooft
for his Late Night Live interview with Phillip Adams on Socratic Dialogue. Listen to, or view the transcript, of some of Stan's more recent radio interviews on What is Morality? and Cosmopolitanism. Both interviews took place on Alan Saunders' ABC Radio National Program, The Philosophers Zone.

2003 Tim Dare.

2002 John Sutton
for his weekly radio program Ghost in the Machine. John has also been interviewed on various topics, including Dreams on ABC Radio National Program Life Matters and Animal Spirits: The Mind in History on ABC Radio National Program All in the Mind.
 
 2001 In 2001 the AAP Media Prize was not awarded.

2000 Tamas Pataki
for his article 'Narcissism Incarnate', The Australian's Review of Books, August 1999.

 1999 Chandran Kukathas
for his lecture, 'Tolerating the Intolerable', delivered at the Senate Department's Occasional Lecture Series on 24th June 1998 in Parliament House. The lecture was broadcast on ABC Radio National program Life Matters, and is published in Papers on Parliament, 1999.



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