Perl & Sliwa Win Sanders Metaethics Prizes

The Marc Sanders Foundation named two winners of its 2023 Prize in Metaethics: Caleb Perl (Australian Catholic University) and Paulina Sliwa (University of Vienna).

Paulina Sliwa and Caleb Perl

Caleb Perl was awarded the prize for his “Normativity as Reactive Shield“:

This paper develops a construal of normativity that descends from Mill’s classic account of moral wrongs as what ought to be sanctioned. Its core aim is to generalize Mill’s account to avoid objectionable circularity, by taking normative judgments to play a distinctive role in our social lives. It suggests, roughly, that a fact’s normativity consists in its constitutively governing certain sanctions. The paper argues that the resulting construal of normativity is on a par with more familiar Humean or Kantian construals. Establishing parity helps us ask which metaethical questions should be central.

Paulina Sliwa was awarded the prize for her “Changing Minds and Hearts“:

The received wisdom about moral testimony is that it can change beliefs but not feelings. We may come to believe—even know—that a given course of action is right or wrong. But we won’t feel it. Relying on moral testimony hence makes us emotionally alienated from our moral judgments.

This paper challenges this view. It does so by examining the phenomenon of hermeneutical advice: this is moral testimony that aims at helping an agent to make sense of her moral situation. Hermeneutical advice transmits moral perspectives on a situation.Perspectives are not propositions. Rather, a perspective is a way of thinking about a subject matter. To have a perspective on a subject matter is to have a set of cognitive and affective dispositions: to notice, to remember, to see as morally or explanatorily salient, to tune in with some features affectively, to see similarities and differences, to apply certain concepts (rather than others). To adopt a new moral perspective is, in part, to change what one is affectively attuned to. Hermeneutical advice is a form of moral testimony: when we adopt a new moral perspective based on a testimonial exchange, we are deferring to our interlocutor’s epistemic authority. Thus moral testimony can transmit affective attunement. Hermeneutical advice has the power to change both minds and hearts.

According to the prize announcement, the committee—Mark Schroeder (USC), Christine Tiefensee (Frankfurt) and John Brunero (Nebraska)—“unanimously found both papers to be creative, well-conceived, well-crafted, insightful, and a delight to read.”

The prize is $5000 and publication of the winning essays in Oxford Studies in Metaethics, volume 20.

You can learn more about the prize and see a list of its previous winners here.


Beyond the Ivory Tower. Workshop for academics on writing short pieces for wide audiences on big questions. Taking place October 18th to 19th. Application deadline July 30th. Funding provided.
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Clayton Littlejohn
Clayton Littlejohn
1 year ago

Well done, Caleb and Paulina! (Haven’t had a chance to read Paulina’s paper, but I had the chance to look at a draft of Caleb’s a month or two ago and it’s truly excellent.)

don’t mourn, organize!
1 year ago

Congrats to both! (P.S. — Justin, you have Caleb’s name right above the pictures, but immediately below you call him “Jacob.”)

John Paul James
1 year ago

These are interesting; the results of Cultural Phenomena. I’m sure that the lights are on within the communal studies of its stewards, yet I find it lavishing and without regards to truth particularly. Public scrutiny in Judgement and Sufficing to defend such honor seems objectionable. Not to offer an argument, yet extensional for debate. Congratulations on the in-depth study and awards.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Paul James