Congratulations to Isabella Carlsson (2018 Graduate) and Samantha Hirshland (Third Year) for winning this years 2018 Philosophy and Religion Essay Contest!
• Isabella’s Essay: The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives within a Bayesian Framework
Isabella Carlsson investigated the problem of unconceived alternatives within a Bayesian framework. In her analysis she explores whether or not the Bayesian framework can be used to capture the antirealists’ problem of unconceived alternatives with Shimony’s catchall hypothesis. Through her definition of antirealists as those who believe that we can never know the true theory of a phenomenon, they cannot lower the probability they assign to the catchall once they conceive of new hypotheses and this would lead to the belief that the true hypothesis is unconceived and that more scientific investigation only leads to more uncertainty. This is inconsistent with the Bayesian framework that requires probabilities for degrees of belief and cannot be applied to the problem of unconceived alternatives.
• Samantha’s Essay: The Evidential Basis and Moral Implications (or lack thereof) of Social Models of Disability
Sammy Hirshland examined the evidential basis and moral implications of social models of disability. She starts her paper with a history of the problem and assumptions made regarding ethical implications of distinguishing between natural and social inequities on some theories in political philosophy. She continues her analysis with discussion of the theoretical evidence that assert that disability is a social phenomenon, a position debated by disability scholars and bioethicists; and concludes with an application of the theoretical evidence for a social model of disability that dictates whether society should cure or accommodate certain traits.