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WINNER OF THE WILFRID SELLARS ESSAY PRIZE

 

The judges for the 2013 Wilfrid Sellars Essay Prize are pleased to announce that the winner for this year’s competition is Owen Ware, author of “Self-Love and Self-Conceit in Kant’s Moral Psychology.”

 

Owen joined the Department of Philosophy at Temple University as an Assistant Professor in 2011, after holding a post-doctoral fellowship through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He completed his graduate studies at the University of Toronto in 2010, writing a dissertation under the direction of Paul Franks titled Kant, Skepticism, and Moral Sensibility. Some of his recent publications include: “The Duty of Self-Knowledge,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2009), “Fichte’s Voluntarism,” European Journal of Philosophy (2010), “Self-Consciousness and Personal Identity” (with Don Ainslie), Routledge Companion to Eighteenth Century Philosophy (forthcoming), and “Kant on Moral Sensibility and Moral Motivation,” Journal of the History of Philosophy (forthcoming).

 

In the awarded essay, Owen addresses Kant’s seemingly pessimistic view of human nature. In addition to loving ourselves in an egoistic manner, Kant thinks we are prone to inflate the importance of our needs and inclinations, what he calls “self-conceit” in the second Critique. Surprisingly, however, Kant says little to explain how self-conceit emerges in human life, and his few scattered remarks on the issue are quite puzzling. Owen seeks to fill these gaps by considering a parallel to what Kant calls “transcendental illusion” in the first Critique. He explains why self-conceit is different from what Rousseau calls “amour-propre” and from what Kant calls, in later works, “radical evil.” On the reading Owen defends, self-conceit emerges not from our needs and inclinations, but from the way we must rationally pursue their satisfaction.

 

Owen’s paper is available in the members-only section of our website.

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