Winners of Sanders Prize in Metaethics Announced

The Marc Sanders Foundation has named the authors of two papers the winners of its 2019 Metaethics Prize.

The winners are:

Daniel Wodak (currently at Virginia Tech, but soon to be at the University of Pennsylvania)


Luca Incurvati and Julian J. Schlöder (both at the University of Amsterdam).

Daniel Wodak, Luca Incurvati, and Julian J. Schlöder

Dr. Wodak won for his paper,”Approving on the Basis of Moral and Aesthetic Testimony.” Here’s the abstract:

If a reliable testifier tells you that a painting is beautiful or that an agent’s act is right, do you thereby have a reason to approve of the painting or the action? Many insist that you don’t: there’s no reason to approve on the basis of normative testimony. I argue that once we correct for a common methodological mistake in how people reach this conclusion, normative testimony must give us some reason for attitudes like approval. I then argue that we can build up from this result to challenge a variety of common solutions to the puzzle posed by normative testimony.

Dr. Incurvati and Dr. Schlöder won for their paper, “Inferential Expressivism and the Negation Problem“. Here’s its abstract:

We develop a novel solution to the negation version of the Frege-Geach problem by taking up recent insights from the bilateral programme in logic. Bilateralists derive the meaning of negation from a primitive B-type inconsistency involving the attitudes of assent and dissent. Some may demand an explanation of this inconsistency in simpler terms, but we argue that bilateralism’s assumptions are no less explanatory than those of A-type semantics that only require a single primitive attitude, but must stipulate inconsistency elsewhere. Based on these insights, we develop a version of B-type expressivism called inferential expressivism. This is a novel semantic framework that characterises meanings by inferential roles that define which attitudes one can infer from the use of terms. We apply this framework to normative vocabulary, thereby solving the Frege-Geach problem generally and comprehensively. Our account moreover includes a semantics for epistemic modals, thereby also explaining normative terms under epistemic modals.

Tristram McPherson (Ohio State) received an honorable mention for his paper “Deliberate Authority and Representational Determinacy.”

The Metaethics Prize is $5000 and publication of the winning essays in Oxford Studies in Metaethics. The recipients of the award will be expected to present their papers at the next annual Wisconsin Metaethics Workshop (MadMeta). Previous winners are listed here. The Metaethics Prize is one of several philosophy prizes awarded by the Marc Sanders Foundation.

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