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What we know for sure: Bristol researcher scoops top philosophy prize

Dr Jason Konek

Dr Jason Konek, winner of the 2015 Young Epistemologist Prize

18 February 2015

Dr Jason Konek, a research assistant in the Department of Philosophy on the European Research Council project ‘Epistemic Utility Theory’, has won the 2015 Young Epistemologist Prize.

The award is one of the highest distinctions available to early-career researchers in this branch of philosophy, which concerns the nature and scope of knowledge.

The prize is awarded every two years by the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, one of the oldest higher education institutions in the US, and consistently listed as one of the top two Anglophone philosophy departments. Awarded biennially, and now in its 11th year, the award is presented for the best essay by an early-career researcher in any area of epistemology.

This year, and for the second time in the history of the award, the prize was awarded jointly – to Dr Konek and to Dr Clayton Littlejohn of King’s College London. Dr Konek’s prize-winning essay, entitled ‘Epistemic conservativity and imprecise credence’, investigates the reasons we have for responding to sparse, unspecific evidence (for example, the sort of evidence we have about the state of the economy 10 years from now) by adopting similarly weak, unspecific opinions (for example, it’s not entirely unlikely that the UK will see relatively slow, but steady growth in that time span).

The winners each receive $1,000 and will present their papers at the Rutgers Epistemology Conference in May. The papers will also be published in one of the leading general philosophy journals, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Past winners of the Young Epistemologist Prize include eminent philosophers Allan Hazlett, Sarah Moss, Sinan Dogramaci, Jennifer Lackey, Jonathan Schaffer and Jonathan Weisberg. 

Professor Richard Pettigrew, Head of the Department of Philosophy, said: ‘This is a tremendous achievement by Jason. His paper is an outstanding example of the great benefits that are gained by applying formal mathematical techniques to important philosophical questions. The Young Epistemologist Prize is extremely prestigious, boasting an exceptional list of past winners. This recognises Jason's very significant contribution to an important debate.’

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