AJP Best Paper Award

From 2007, the AAP, in connection with Taylor and Francis (Routledge Imprint), awards an annual prize for the best paper published in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy (AJP) in the previous year.

The winning essay is published on the AJP online web page 

To contribute a paper to the AJP and thus be eligible for the award, please refer to the submissions instructions of the Journal.

2017 Volume 95

Jennifer M. Morton

“Reasoning under Scarcity”

Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 95(3): 543-559


Jennifer M. Morton’s “Reasoning under Scarcity” offers a sophisticated, empirically informed defense of a surprising thesis about norms of practical rationality: under conditions of extreme scarcity, patterns of reasoning that consistently undermine an agent’s long-term goals can be rational. For instance, an agent stuck in a debt trap because she privileges her short-term interests could nonetheless be reasoning exactly as she ought to reason. This surprising normative position has broad-reaching implications for public policy debates, shifting blame and responsibility from individuals in extreme poverty to policy-makers in conditions of relative affluence. In making the case for this position, Morton challenges the dominant view in action theory that rational requirements governing means/end reasoning (if there are any) are universal and context-independent. Morton follows in the footsteps of psychologists like Gerd Gigerenzer, who have argued that human reasoning does not conform to ideal rational choice theory and that our heuristics should be evaluated as rational insofar as they make a reasonable trade-off between cognitive efficiency and accuracy. But Morton does not see privileging of short-term interests as just a quick and dirty heuristic that imperfectly meets the agent’s goals. Instead, Morton draws on recent developments in the empirical literature to argue that we face a trade-off in our capacity to reason efficiently about short-term goals versus long-term planning: under conditions of extreme scarcity we are better at evaluating short-term choices, but worse at balancing them short-term versus long-term interests. Given this cognitive constraint, Morton argues that in conditions of extreme scarcity, where a bad choice could be disastrous, it is rational to form a habit of privileging short-term methods. Crucial to this argument is the idea that habits, intentions, or policies can ground rational requirements that may diverge from what we have most overall reason to do. The paper is written in a lively and accessible way and filled with compelling examples from everyday life. Morton’s paper stands out as a particularly successful instance of public philosophy: it successfully brings both nuanced philosophical understanding and empirical research to bear on issues of broad public interest in a way that that will spark the interest of philosophers, policy makers, and the general public alike.

2016 Volume 94

Brian T. Miller

“How to be a Bayesian Dogmatist”

AJP, 94.4 (2016): 766-780.

Epistemologists have often thought that there is an underlying conflict between Bayesianism, an influential theory of consistency for partial belief states, and Dogmatism a popular fallibilist theory of how to respond appropriately to experience in a way that sidelines skepticism.  Instead of calling for a reevaluation of these views, Brian T. Miller’s “How to be a Bayesian Dogmatist” offers a sophisticated yet surprisingly accessible reconciliation that leaves readers with a far better understanding of Bayesianism and a deeper appreciation of its relevance to debates in epistemology.​​

 Volume 93


Boris Hennig

‘Instance Is the Converse of Aspect’ 

AJP 93/1 (March 2015). 

Boris Hennig's paper "Instance Is the Converse of Aspect" tackles the venerable problem of what it is for an individual to instantiate a property, investigating what Hennig calls "aspect theories" of instantiation, according to which particulars instantiate universals in virtue of their sharing "aspects" with the universals. His starting point is Donald Baxter's aspect theory, but before long the paper dives into the history of philosophy, consulting Aristotle, Porphyry, William of Champeaux, and several other medieval and contemporary philosophers in pursuit of the best possible implementation of the aspect approach. This implementation, a version of medieval indifferentism, is briefly sketched in the final pages. The paper treats the ancient and mediaeval philosophers as interlocutors rather than as objects of historical study, offering in the course of its breakneck journey through the centuries a compelling case for the synergy of historical scholarship and philosophical reasoning. The command of the material is virtuosic and the approach deeply rewarding. Though it does not attempt to defend the aspect approach against its rivals, the paper makes a significant contribution to the theory of instantiation by finding and developing the aspect approach's best strategy for philosophical success.

Volume 92  Roy Sorensen

'Parsimony for Empty Space'
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2014, Vol. 92, Issue 2, pp. 215–30.

Volume 91  Alex Barber

'Science's Immunity to Moral Refutation'
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2013, Vol. 91, Issue 4, pp. 633–53.

 Volume 90 Matthew Ratcliffe

‘What is touch?’ 
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2012, Vol. 90, Issue 3, pp. 413–32.

Volume 89
Josh Parsons

‘Assessment-contextual indexicals’

Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2011, Vol. 89, Issue 1, pp. 1–17.

Volume 88 Jeff Speaks

'Epistemic Two-Dimensionalism and the Epistemic Argument'

Australasian Journal of Philosophy
, 2010, Vol 88, Issue 1, pp. 59-78.

Volume 87 William G. Lycan

'Giving Dualism its Due'
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2009, Vol 87, Issue 4, pp. 551-563.

 Volume 86 Stephen Finlay

'The Error in the Error Theory'
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2008, Vol 86, Issue 3, pp. 347-69.

 Volume 85 Jonathan Schaffer

'From Nihilism to Monism'
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2007, Vol 85, Issue 2, pp. 175-91.

Volume 84 John Heil

'The Legacy of Linguisticism'
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2006, Vol 84, Issue 2, pp. 233-44.

The AJP Best Paper Award is sponsored by Taylor and Francis, the publishers of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

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